By Darya Minovi, Staff Writer, Iranian Alliances Across Borders (IAAB)
Washington, D.C., November 14, 2011 -- The weekend began with a series of those dreaded icebreakers that you can’t help but end up loving. On November 4, 2011, over 74 college students from 42 institutions across the United States began trickling into the hotel in Washington, D.C. while everyone became acquainted with one another. Whether it was old or new faces, everyone was immediately comfortable and eager for the weekend ahead, brought together by the common goal to make a difference in Iranian American communities and to promote leadership in future generations.
Saturday kicked off at the University of California Washington Center with a variety of interactive workshops that thrived on the eager participation of the students, leading to engaging discussions that touched upon cultural, ethical and political issues that are important to the Iranian American community. The students also had the privilege of hearing presentations from speakers including Behrad Mahdi, a graduate of the Harvard Business School and Harvard Kennedy School, Carl Takei from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and Thenjiwe McHarris from Amnesty International.
One of the key events of the weekend involved a group of the participants volunteering to propose a statement as a response to the newly controversial “Cowboys vs. IRANIANS” poster in Katy, Texas. The group of students took time to write the statement together and then presented it to the Summit, working with the entire group to create a statement that was agreed upon as a collective representation.
" Being given the chance to write a proposal in regards to the bigoted poster targeting Iranians in the U.S. was very powerful to me,” said Parisa Pirooz, from George Mason University, who was apart of the core committee that drafted the statement. “I was thrilled to see that others around me found it just as important to collect our voices and speak against ignorance towards our community as a whole.”
The statement was released soon after the final draft was approved and serves as a representative response that demonstrates the dedication of the Student Summit participants to putting ignorance towards racial minorities to rest. Pirooz continues, “I thank IAAB for giving us the opportunity to express our voice and stand up for Iranians all over the U.S.”
The weekend ended with a sense of pride and accomplishment in the air as the participants slowly began to dissipate, returning to their respective institutions across the United States. With a web of new connections made across state lines, the inescapable need to make a difference in the Iranian American community continues to lie within the eager and unique participants of IAAB’s Student Summit.
"IAAB has successfully enriched the lives of Summit participants. Projects like the Summit are exactly what our community needs to unite and blossom in the United States,” said Jayhon Ghassemzadeh,a participant from the University of Connecticut.
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 www.iranianalliances.org.
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