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Camp Ayandeh, Day 4: A Look Into the Iranian History Workshop

By Arian Jadbabaie, Iranian Alliances Across Borders (IAAB)

Nobles, clergy, intellectuals, Jews, Armenians, market men, and other factions sat down today in Camp Ayandeh and worked out a Constitution of Iran. No, we haven't made a time machine at Camp Ayandeh-instead, we have an Iranian History Workshop that can help us figure out what Iran's past was like. Run by three counselors, the workshop focused on a less commonly covered portion of Iranian History-the Constitutional Revolution of 1906.

Campers creating their own Iranian Constitution

Speaking from my own perspective for a bit, I didn't learn about the Constitutional Revolution in history class, nor did my parents really talk about it the way they mentioned the Revolution of 1979. Camp Ayandeh was the first time I was really introduced to the fact that Iran had a revolution in the early 1900s. For some of the campers, that may not be true, but for other ones, workshops and experiences like these are truly new sources of knowledge.

The workshop started with a presentation setting the scene and explaining the setting of the time, to give the campers and understanding of what the world and Iran was like in 1906. But after a little bit of time, campers and red shirts were split into eight groups, and in each group members were given a faction in 1906 Iran to represent. Almost like a Model United Nations conference, campers represented Lutis, Nobles, Bazaaris/Merchants, Clergy/Ulema, Intellegencia/Intellectuals, Women, Jews, and Armenians, all attempting to come together and write an Iranian Constitution. Discussions were lively and spirited. Later in a debriefing session, campers mentioned that it was cool to view a situation from a different perspective and try to represent ideas they did not necessarily agree with. They noticed that at some point, philosophies would begin to clash, and debates would just became both sides reciting their own beliefs at each other over and over. To get around this, campers realized that they had to compromise-to gain everyone's support and mold the constitution in their favor, factions would have to negotiate various parts of the constitution. For example, the clergy wanted to create an Islamic state where Islam brought together Iranians from across the country, while the Jews wanted freedom to practice their own religion while having the same rights as Muslims. And so, both of these groups would then have to attempt to compromise to reach a middle ground they could both agree on.

At the end of the activity, campers presented the constitutions they made in their own groups. Finally, the facilitators then showed them how the constitution worked out in real life, so that campers could compare what they had achieved to what had actually happened.


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