today to join FOR's 2009 delegations to Iran:
Scheduled for Feb./March; May; Late Summer
Following the success of Fellowship of Reconciliation's first four friendship and solidarity delegations to Iran in December 2005, May 2006, March 2007, and May 2007, FOR launched in Fall 2007 the second phase of our Iran initiative, a project seeking alternatives to the current political standoff between the United States and Iranian governments.
FOR is sending a series of peace missions to Iran to build people-to-people relationships between the people of the United States and the people of Iran, and to develop a community of grassroots civilian diplomats in North America. These delegations allow a diverse and representative group of Western peace activists to see firsthand the realities of life in today's Iran. At the same time, they provide the opportunity for a wide range of ordinary Iranians to encounter citizens of the United States as we really are, beyond the stereotypes that define many views of the West. [Reports, photos, and actions by members of our most recent delegations in December 2007 (#5), February-March 2008 (#6), April-May 2008 (#7, with support from the Lee & Gund Foundation), and November-December 2008 (#8) are posted on FOR's blog, FORpeace.net.]
Your participation will provide you with the opportunity to experience the rich and ancient history of Persian culture and art, meet with members of Iranian civil society, and get a feel for the current climate in Iran. And it will allow Iranians to get to know you. Moreover, fewer than 500 U.S. citizens are traveling to Iran per year at this time. You have a unique opportunity to be one of this small and important community of visitors.
The Fellowship of Reconciliation has a distinguished history of successful "behind the scenes" friendship and solidarity delegations to regions in political conflict. The organization coordinated multiple trips to the former U.S.S.R. during the Cold War and to Vietnam during the 1960s; to Central America in the 1980s and Palestine/Israel during recent years; and it currently manages regular delegations to Colombia, the most militarized nation in Latin America. We are proud to offer this rare opportunity for leaders of U.S. civil society to meet leaders and citizens of Iran.
Following its first seven successful delegations to Iran, FOR has now scheduled grassroots civilian diplomacy delegations to Iran through 2009, each of which will normally spend 12 days in Iran -- as part of the preparations for the trip, delegates may be required to attend a day-long orientation in New York before departure:
Participants will visit Tehran (the contemporary capital), Qom (the world center of Shi'i theology), Esfehan (the legendary capital of medieval Persia), and Shiraz (the jewel of classical Islamic culture as well as the seat of Iran's ancient pre-Islamic civilization). The delegations will begin and end in the New York City area.
We strongly urge all interested individuals, particularly those active in education or community work, to apply for this exceptional opportunity. Our objective is to send delegations that reflect all segments of the United States in all its ethnic, religious, and social diversity. This will not only ensure that delegates explore Iranian issues that are relevant to a broad spectrum of home audiences, but will also enable the delegations to portray themselves truthfully as representative of U.S. civil society.
To participate, or for further information, contact FOR's Iran Program by e-mail at iran [at] forusa.org or by telephone at 845-358-4601 ext. 27. You may download the application and e-mail it to us. Upon receipt of your application and its supporting documents, FOR will consider it within each selection process. Due to limited availability of seats for the trips, a higher demand for participation than available spaces, as well as organizational agreements with our sponsors, we are obliged to select only the most qualified candidates. Successful applicants will be contacted with further information about travel to Iran and the visa application process.
The delegation cost is $4,000.00. This includes visa expenses, orientation costs, international airfare, full room and board, domestic transportation in Iran, basic tips and gratuities, and an English-speaking tour guide. The delegates are responsible for their domestic travel inside the U.S. (from their hometown to New York and vice versa). [FOR has adjusted the fee in 2008 based on increases in the cost of airfare, lodging, and related expenses, and FOR reserves the right to make future adjustments based on unforeseen financial changes.]
As a pacifist-rooted organization committed to nonviolent social change, the Fellowship of Reconciliation is constantly working for global peace with justice, and for reconciliation. One way to accomplish this goal is by facilitating direct dialogue and promoting people-to-people diplomacy among citizens of countries whose governments are in conflict.
FOR's Iran program allows U.S. delegates and their Iranian hosts to learn firsthand about one another. It also offers all of us an opportunity to come up with ways to de-escalate larger-scale tensions. Participants reach out to fellow human beings from the "other side" and find techniques to build trust between their two nations. People of the United States and people of Iran are able to exchange ideas on the creation and maintenance of a democratic and independent society.
We seek for these continuing delegations to assist citizens of two countries to form a deeper understanding of the roots of their governments' conflict. Ultimately, we hope they will generate new processes for ending animosity without resorting to violence.
... Payvand News - 02/18/09 ... --