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Tina Pak: From Tehran to Camp Ayandeh


Source: Iranian Alliances Across Borders (IAAB)

Tina Pak

For five years, IAAB's Camp Ayandeh has brought together Iranian American youth from different walks of life, playing host to both first and second generation Iranian Americans. Camp Ayandeh 2010, however, was unique in that 15-year-old first time camper Tina Pak had moved from Iran to the U.S. just three days before arriving at Notre Dame de Namur University for the first day of camp.


The Pak family decided to move from Tehran to the United States in order to create stronger relationships with their relatives who live here. Tina's cousin, Nima Sadri, had already participated in IAAB's Camp Ayandeh twice before he suggested that she attend as well.

"The Camp Ayandeh community has become my second family." Nima says. "Each year I've made new friends, grown as an individual, gained leadership skills, and have learned how to work well with others. Camp Ayandeh has been an instrumental part of respecting and appreciating my Iranian-American identity." 

Despite hearing of Nima's positive experiences, Tina was hesitant about her first year at camp. "I was nervous that I wouldn't become friends with anybody because of the differences between American teenage culture and Iranian teenage culture," Tina explains. "But in the airport on the way to camp, I became friends with many other campers."

After such a warm welcome, Tina's experience at camp far exceeded any of her expectations: "The counselors were so kind and grew very close to everyone. It felt like we had all been friends for years."

Tina's favorite camp activities were the annual Ta'arof Tournament, wherein camper put their ta'arof skils to the test, and the surprise exclusive performance from underground Iranian rock band, Yellow Dogs. Tina, whose passions include playing the piano, could relate well with band, particularly since the musicians had also recently left Iran. Tina also enjoyed the camp "Jam Sessions" in which campers and staffers alike showcased their musical talents, and Tina impressed everyone with her skills on the piano.

The impact that camp had upon Tina did not resonate until the night of the Camp Ayandeh Talent Show. "On the last day, everyone was crying," Tina reflects. "I never expected that I would be crying too -I didn't even cry when we moved from Iran to the U.S.!" 

While she knows that she will miss her friends, her piano class, andthe people and  busy streets of Tehran, Tina looks forward to being accepted into American culture, and working hard in school. Her introduction to IAAB and her time spent at Camp Ayandeh turned out to be a unique and transforming welcome to America. "I learned that I don't always need to hold back or be shy -I am now confident whenever I speak. Thank you, Camp Ayandeh!"

To hear a live interview with Tina, and learn about this year's camp, please visit the Camp Ayandeh 2010 blog

About Iranian Alliances Across Borders (IAAB) - IAAB is a 501(c)(3) non-partisan, non-profit volunteer organization with a young, dedicated staff spread across the United States, Europe and Iran.  The mission of the organization is to address issues of the Iranian diaspora community while raising awareness of the Iranian community, promoting leadership, and connecting Iranians across borders. For more information about IAAB, please visit

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