ISSUE 01 | NOV/DEC 2011
PREMIER ISSUE A Sit Down with Houston’s Mayor Annise Parker
An Exclusive with NPR Senior Producer Davar Ardalan
An Interview with Juilliard Professor Dr. Behzad Ranjbaran / 72 Hours in Cartagena / Garlic Bread for the Holidays? Mom’s Corner by Zohreh Ghahremani
‘Going Down South for the Winter’ Project Runway’s Chloe Dao $11
Director Sara Zandieh on ‘Party USA’ Make Me Persian! by Brian H. Appleton
contents on the cover photograph Volodymyr Kudryavtsev
make up Olga Seifert
photography contributors Andres Rodrigues, Elena Kouptsova-Vasic, Bruce Rolff, Konrad Bak, Vladimir Melnik, Kiselev Andrey Valerevich, Yuri Arcurs, Elizabeth Engle, Michele Piacquadio, Patrick Miko, Karen Roach, Hans Slegers, Mike Tolstoy, George Mayer, Stephen Coburn, Orlando Rosu, Udo Kroener, Alexey Kuznetsov, Sandra Stoiber
Make me Persian! 9 Learn how.
the fat away. 10 Freeze Downtime not required.
How does it really work?
Thanksgiving Turkey by master chef Najmieh Batmanglij.
Corner 24 Mom’s The place to chill and talk about
American Women’s 26 Iranian Leadership Conference
Your perfume horoscope!
with 12 Interview Dr. Ranjbaran
Prized composer and Juilliard professor discusses his music and the source of his inspirations.
Sara Zandieh 16 Award winning Director on her new movie 'Party USA' starring Maz Jobrani.
Money Basics 18 How to feel more secure with
Can you pass the garlic bread please?
your perfume says 11 What about you?
Dinner 22 Holiday A tasty alternative to
A simple solution to more peaceful holiday dinners.
our cultural and generational differences…and similarities.
The very many pathways to success.
28 Melt A love story with a twist... Genital Circumcision 31 Female A practice to be tolerated or abolished? Soltani 34 Nima A Master weaver on Persian carpets. the Bedroom to 36 From the Boardroom
Lace, lace, and more lace!
Pursuit of the 38 InPerfect Brow
Yes. Men do it too!
for Opportunity 39 Looking in all the Wrong Places
World 58 AHowNew a 15 year old wants to
Oil and Gas 81 Taking by Storm!
The Great American Brain Drain.
with 40 Interview Houston’s Mayor
Annise Parker talks about reaching out to sub-communities within our multi-cultural society.
Lack of Preparation Could 42 ALand You in the Hot Seat
Your first interview with corporate America.
of a Good 45 Secrets Persian Woman
Authenticity or bad behavior?
hours in Cartagena! 46 72 We are taking you on a trip! with 52 Interview Davar Ardalan
NPR Senior Producer on raising a family while building a successful career.
55 Love the skin you’re in!
The Skin Care Pocket Book
change the world with her poetry.
Space 60 AWhatDesigned one interior designer does
to create a space.
Talepasand 61 Taravat Feast your eyes on paintings
An interview with Houston’s own trailblazer, Fereshteh “Faye” Sorurbakhsh
Vote or Not to Vote? 83 To Why don’t we see the urgency to
participate in the elections?
by an award winning Iranian- American artist.
Unplugged 64 Happiness It’s exactly what it sounds like! a Deep Breath 70 Take Massage and breath for better health. "Going Down South 71 for the Winter"
Project Runway winner Chloe Dao's fashion
Miss Torres to 79 From Mrs Taghechian!
The art of being married to an Iranian!
Sudy Samandari SudySamandari@ZanMagazine.com
managing editor Dr. Baharak Sedigh BaharakSedigh@ZanMagazine.com
A M A G A Z I N E D E D I C AT E D T O M O D E R N I R A N I A N A M E R I C A N W O M E N
Sarrah Zadeh SarrahZadeh@ZanMagazine.com
– Oliver Wendell Holmes
Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.
editor in chief
design director Laura Dickson LauraDickson@ZanMagazine.com
photographer Tiffany Cintron TiffanyCintron@ZanMagazine.com
executive director Mojgan Samandari MojganSamandari@ZanMagazine.com
marketing executive Fati Fatehi FatiFatehi@ZanMagazine.com
business editor Bobby Jackson BobbyJackson@ZanMagazine.com
senior writer Zohreh Ghahremani contributing writers Khatereh Soltani Babette Taghechian
advisory board Jamshid Boroujerdi Mariam Khosravani Mehri Jazayeri
legal advisor Shadi Jam
contributing correspondents Bay Area—Nazy Fatehi-Amidi Toronto—Baharak Azkia Dallas—Mahnaz Vijeh
Zan Magazine and its editors reserve the right to edit all submitted material for publication such as articles, advertisement, or any other related material. All items submitted to Zan Magazine are edited to fit the style and/or concept of the publication. This publication may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, without the express prior written permission of the Publisher. Printed in the USA.
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Nice to meet you My dear reader, Hello! Let me begin by saying how excited I am to be here with you. This journey has been in the making for a very long time; however, my awareness of it is a lot more recent! Bear with me as I tell you the whole story. First I would like to dedicate this magazine to the memory of my beloved late father, Abdollah Samandarizadeh. He started “Golchin Publication” twenty years ago in Houston, and singlehandedly managed to publish 121 issues. He was the happiest person alive and I contribute most of that inner contentment to his love of his magazine and to his ability to serve the Iranian-American community. He put his heart and soul into his beloved Golchin and in return, Glochin became his vehicle to staying alive. My cherished father passed away on December 19, 2009 and as we spread his ashes in the river and said goodbye to him, Golchin was also put to rest alongside its creator. As far as I was concerned, there never was the question of “following in his footsteps” despite all the encouragement I was receiving. What, with my own busy life, running a business and raising a family, etc……. So what was this inkling of regret (not guilt, he would never allow guilt) in my heart? This is when the universe rearranged itself to help me figure it all out! I started getting more involved with the Iranian-American community to pick up where my father had left off. He loved Iran and Iranians and now it was time for me to pay my dues! Meanwhile I had begun my own “soul searching,” and though I was blessed with a beautiful family and a thriving business, there was something missing! Something bigger than myself—a purpose. I was restless and totally on edge. Something big was happening but my analytical mind could not grasp it. Things began to turn around after my joining the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA) and working in the Houston chapter. The realization of a movement, a shift, in the Iranian-American community shook me. I had been so busy proving myself within my mainstream American society, that I had unintentionally ignored my core and the love and pride for my Iranian culture. Astonishingly, I noticed I was not alone. For the last 30 years many of us have been franticly building up our busy lives, attempting to “fit in” in our new home, with little time left for anything else. It felt like I was coming out of a haze, waking up from a long dream!
I attended “Pathway to success 2011,” the Iranian-American Women‘s Leadership Conference in Irvine, California in support of a dear friend! Suddenly, I found myself among 600 accomplished, dynamic, and down to earth women. Having opened myself up to this new perspective, I was all of a sudden in the company of the most wonderful people imaginable. Oh, these dynamic women just took my breath away! I finally let myself get submerged in this pool of sweet serenity. I had never in my life been more proud to be a woman AND to be an Iranian! At this point, opening up to and gravitating towards our amazing community became inevitable. As a result my sense that “something is coming” got stronger, more powerful ……until……. I went to bed one night after a very long day of soul searching to fall into this journey of tangled but vivid dreams and conscious thinking. I saw my father’s passage through the maze of creating his magazine, I felt his excitement, and his joy. I traveled with him through years of putting his heart and soul into his “PURPOSE” in life. It was like watching a suspenseful movie. Even in my dream the anticipation was killing me, as if instinctively I knew the conclusion was going to be shocking and utterly unexpected. So with butterflies in my stomach, I kept on watching for hours. Was it really hours? And there it came; like a bolt of thunder! A huge light bulb went off in my head and I jumped out of bed, tears running down my face, barely able to catch my breath, and I just bowled! I had seen it so clearly in my dream— was it a dream? It had always been there. Right in front of my eyes. But I had not been ready to receive it, and now, I had finally seen my purpose.
enlighten, and entertain. We will always embrace the truth, strive to celebrate our glorious culture, and yet we will strive to acknowledge and break through cultural barriers. To the young generation of Iranian Americans—our pride and joy—we promise to create and maintain a safe and positive space for freedom of self- expression. In this new era we are reaching out to our young readers, offering our devotion in promoting their growth, recognition, and success. Please join us on this enchanted journey, and let's create "our own destiny" in this new modern multi-cultural world!
Cheers to life and to you, Sudy
SUDY SAMANDARI editor in chief
So here it is dear reader, right in your hands! With the help and support of my dear family, and the superb women (and a few men!) of my visionary team, Zan Magazine has set out to explore the world of “out of this world” IranianAmerican women. We are committed to serving our community openly and whole-heartedly and we aspire to inspire,
MAKE ME PERSIAN! written by Brian H. Appleton Since Mr. Bolton and others seems determined to invade Iran for the oil under the Iranians’ feet I think it is only fair, sanctions not withstanding, that Iran should invade America with Pistachios, Jasmine, Cardamom tea, Carpets, Backgammon, Rumi , Tasbi and Shirini! I want to see Faloodeh and Yakht Dar Behesht in every frozen yogurt and ice cream shop. I want to see Toot, Bamieh and Sohan in every pastry store. I want to see the shells of empty pumpkin seeds strewn all over the floor of the movie theatres instead of candy bar wrappers.
I want Iranian Americans to gain seats in both the House and Senate; I want an Iranian for President. I want Iranian mayors in every major city and at least a dozen governors. One in Beverly Hills is a good start. I want to see Dom Balon and Maghz in every butcher shop and Jigar at every barbeque. I want to see lamb roasting on every spit. I want to see Gaz and Noghl in every candy store. I want to see Nun-e-Barbari at every bakery along with Taftoon, Sangak and Lavash. I want to see Pakdis and Chateau Sardasht and Vodka Sagi in every liquor store. I want to see Beluga Caviar and sturgeon and white fish in every fish market. I want to see fresh Gerdu being sold in the streets of New York City. I want the restaurant menus to be filled with polos and Kash-e-Badenjoon and Fessenjoon. I want to see Beh preserves and eggplant Torshi in every 7/11. I want Kharbozeh in every produce section in every supermarket across this vast nation and on the carts of street vendors on every corner. I want to see donkeys everywhere. I want to see dromedaries and bactrians instead of horses. I want to see Haji Firooz dancing in every alley. I want to see the Daf being taught in every music class. I want to see Khanegah Sufi houses in every neighborhood full of people doing Sama. I want to see every American celebrate Nowruz, Chahar Shanbe Souri and Seezda Bidar and the Haft Seen in every household. Getting Nowruz recognized on the UN Calendar is a start. I want every child to hear Mullah Nassrudin stories. I want Persian proverbs to be mandatory reading in schools. I want fortune tellers to use the Divan. I want children to be able to recite by heart Omar Khayyam, Sa’adi, Hafez, Attar, Rumi, Ferdowsi, al Ghazalli. I want to see Persian carpets in every home. I want to see a Hoz in every Bagh. I want to see Joobs with snow fed water coursing through all the streets of every town. I want to see fat-tailed sheep. I want to see tulips and crocuses pushing up through the snow in spring. What’s been left behind is not forgotten in the wind. I will not settle for shopping malls and Big Macs. Give me the Bazaar and Kufte Tabrizi. Give me worry beads instead of valium. Give me turquoise, give me carnelian, give me Backgammon, give me belly dancing and Bandari, give me life, liberty, happiness and the pursuit of Taroff! Make me Persian. If they want our oil then they have to take our culture too....
Brian H. Appleton was born in Tokyo, Japan in 1950. He grew up in Greece and lived in Italy from 1955 to 1966 in Tirrenia and Livorno, and in a boarding school in Rome where he made his first and longest friendship with an Iranian boy named Touss. They are still friends to this day. Brian spent 5 years from 1974 to 1979 working in Tehran. Brian H. Appleton is the author of Tales from the Zirzameen.
Freeze the fat away. Downtime not required. written by Amanda Parrish
CoolSculpting® is FDA cleared for noninvasive reduction of fat. It requires no surgery, anesthesia, or downtime.
There are many things on our plate ranging in importance. What should I cook
for dinner tonight? Am I raising my children right? With all of these concerns, how we look in our jeans shouldn’t be one of them. One of the latest and most fabulous advances in technology for fat layer reduction is CoolSculpting®. Developed by Zeltiq, CoolSculpting® uses cryolipolysis to freeze fat, actually killing the cells. Since it is only an hour long treatment, it is easy to squeeze between carpools and sports practice! Ideal candidates for this treatment are individuals with healthy lifestyles who have localized diet and exercise resistant bulges like “love handles” or “belly pouch.” What should you expect? First I recommend arriving in comfortable clothes. You can expect your provider to take your weight, measurements, Body Mass Index (BMI), and photographs of the desired treatment area. The area is then marked (much like liposuction) and a cool gel pad is applied to the skin to protect it during the treatment. The applicator is placed on top, and then the actual treatment will begin. At first you will feel it suction your skin as it draws the tissue to be treated between two cold panels. The cooling sensation is only within the first 10 minutes, and as the spot becomes numb any discomfort dissipates. Treatment lasts 60 minutes, during this time you are sitting or lying down comfortably and you can read magazines, chat on the phone, or maybe even catch a few zzz’s.
After completing the treatment, the applicator is released, revealing the skin as a “frozen stick of butter.” It is then massaged vigorously for about 2 minutes until it goes back to normal. Since the treatment is non-invasive, regular daily activities such as exercise and work can be resumed immediately. Some tenderness, numbness or minor bruising could be experienced but is usually temporary. In the next two to four months the crystallized fat cells will break down and will be naturally flushed from the body, and voila! You—with a slimmer appearance! CoolSculpting® is FDA cleared for non-invasive reduction of fat. It requires no surgery, anesthesia, or downtime. Reduction of the fat bulge can be up to 20% after just one treatment and is meant for areas such as tummy pouches, muffin tops, and inner thighs.. etc. Best of all, the results are easily maintained with a healthy lifestyle! This treatment is affordable, clinically proven to be effective, and fairly painless allowing you to have your cake and eat it too! So, if you are ready to find out if you are a candidate, have a consultation done with a certified CoolSculpting® provider to make sure you meet the qualifications. More information can be found at www.coolsculpting.com.
WHAT YOUR PERFUME SAYS ABOUT you
Have you ever been curious about the different perfume scents you choose?
Have you ever outgrown some scents as they began to change because your body chemistry started to react differently with each note of the fragrance throughout the years? Well, let’s see what your favorite scents say about you and how you are feeling at the time!
written by MEHRZAD ZAMANPOUR
Highly confident, you enjoy being the center of attention.
You are outgoing and energetic— and flirt is your middle name.
You are a dreamer who craves romance and mystery.
You bring a spirit of adventure to everything you do.
You are glamorous and always put-together.
You are a take-charge gal, and people around you depend on your knack for planning.
SELECTED FOR KPBS’S ONE BOOK, ONE SAN DIEGO 2012
Dr. Behzad Ranjbaran M USI CI A N
Behzad Ranjbaran, the recipient of the Rudolf Nissim Award for his Violin Concerto, was born in 1955 in Tehran, Iran. In 1974 he moved to the U.S. to attend Indiana University, receiving his doctorate in composition from The Juilliard School, where he currently serves on the faculty. His formal musical education started early when he entered the Tehran Music Conservatory at age nine. Ranjbaran’s music has been performed by soloists, Renée Fleming, Joshua Bell, Jean-Yves Thibaudet, Yo-Yo Ma among others, and by such noted orchestras as The Philadelphia Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony, Seattle Symphony, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Toronto Symphony, and Buffalo Philharmonic, conducted by Robert Spano, Charles Dutoit, Gerard Schwarz, JoAnn Falletta, Marin Alsop, and Peter Oundjian, among others. The New Jersey Council on the Arts named him a distinguished artist. His recordings include the Persian Trilogy on the Delos label by the London Symphony Orchestra, conducted by JoAnn Falletta. An orchestral cycle, comprising the works Seven Passages, Seemorgh, and The Blood of Seyavash, taking inspiration from ancient Persian legends, as recounted in the 11th century epic poem Shahnameh. Dr. Ranjbaran talks to Zan about his inspirations, his memories, his works, and his upcoming projects.
ZAN: Where do you get your inspiration from? The inspiration comes from different sources and it is often related directly to the type of work I compose. For example, in my recent choral piece “We Are One,” I used the Persian text of “Bani Adam,” the famous poem by the 12th century Persian poet Sa’di, for its profound and powerful message. “Bani Adam” is one of the most well known poems in Persian literature. It illustrates the bond of humanity and the importance of empathy for others:
“Human beings are all members of one family Created with one common essence and soul If any of us suffers or bears pain We all know and share the suffering together.” I chose “We Are One” as the title to underline the commonality of human beings and opted to use the Persian text despite the potential challenges of western choirs singing in Persian. To my delight, Irani-
Another work inspired by Persian subjects is “Fountains of Fin” for flute, violin, and cello. It is a eulogy for Amir Kabir, the great 19th century Vezir, who was slain in the bath of the Garden of Fin. Two other works are “Shiraz” and “Isfahan,” each a celebration of two of my favorite cities. Finally, there is “Open Secret,” based on the text of Rumi. However, there are many other works, which were not inspired by Persian subjects. “Awakening” for string orchestra was commissioned by a South Korean festival on the subject of war and peace. In one of my most memorable concerts, Sejong Soloists premiered it in the “Demilitarized Zone” between North and South Korea in a huge peace festival. In “Awakening” I explored the horror of war and the fundamental desire of mankind to live in peace. You have said in other interviews that your masterpiece “Persian Trilogy” recorded by the London Symphony Orchestra holds a special place in your heart, how so? Yes, “Persian Trilogy” has a special place in my output, perhaps for its connection to Persian legends and my attraction to Shahnameh (the Book of Kings) dating back to my childhood. The Trilogy was inspired by three stories of Shahnameh: “Seemorgh,” “Seven Passages” (Haft Khan Rostam), and The Blood of Seyavash. They were composed during an eleven-year period (1989-2000). Shahnameh as a national epic poem has inspired generations of poets, painters, storytellers (naghals) and many more. But surprisingly, the Iranian classical music has mostly favored works by the lyrical and mystical poets like Hafiz, Rumi and others. For me the attraction to Shahnameh has been two fold: As a composer I find these stories as rich and dramatic sources of inspiration. They are well suited for symphony orchestra with its vast pallete of instrumental color and immense power to portray wide range of dramatic scenes. My second attraction was a personal connection dating back to my early years growing up in Tehran when I developed a deep interest towards Shahnameh. When I was 10 years old, my mother won a contest in Tehran. The prize was a copy of Shahnameh. It was a 9x14 inch volume, 640 pages long, and sported a magnificent picture of its main hero, Rostam, in battle with the White Demon (Div Sepid) on the cover. I would soon learn that that cover was in fact a depiction of the dramatic story entitled “The Seven Trials of Rostam.” My first look at the dramatic and bloody scene sent chills down my spine. Seeing the mighty Rostam, with his wise and determined face, overcoming the hideous White Demon, captured my imagination and had me transfixed forever. The last piece in the trilogy “Seven Passages,” is inspired by this episode.
ans, attending a recent performance of “We Are One” performed by “Musica Sacra” in New York, understood the text entirely, attesting to the extraordinary ability of the choristers singing in Farsi.
Soon after seeing this book, I began to read a simplified version of Shahnameh for youngsters (the original poem is 60, 000 verses long). I was particularly fascinated by the story of Seemorgh (Phoenix). As a child in Tehran, I was very impressed with Mount Alborz, the mountain in which Seemorgh supposedly lived. I used to gaze at the mountains, thinking that she actually lived there. Watching the mountains during a sunrise and sunset with their white peaks full of snow was truly fascinating. These vivid memories were also my inspiration when composing “Seemorgh.” Please tell us about your early musical training at the Tehran Music Conservatory and when you decided to become a composer. I entered the Tehran Music Conservatory to study violin at age 9. We had academics in the morning and music in the afternoon six days a week. By the second year, I developed a great interest in composition and wrote very easy pieces to be played by my friends. Unfortunately, composition lessons were not offered for young students in the conservatory and my formal training only began when I came to the US. During my mid teenage years in Iran I was completely devoted to practicing violin as much as 7-8 hours a day. I would practice from very early morning to late night in a very small room in the basement of the conservatory. My practice room was a tiny broken bathroom, which, after receiving permission, I cleaned up, and added acoustical panels, some pictures and a big mirror to make the room look larger. The panels also improved the acoustics of the “room”. I practiced in that windowless small basement cell every day for several years. The devotion and the discipline of that period ingrained in me a strong passion for music, which reverberates to this day. Your beautiful “Songs of Eternity” on the Ruba’iyat of Omar Khayyam was performed by soprano Renée Fleming. Can you tell us about the piece and how that project came to be? When the time came to compose a work for soprano and orchestra for my friend Renée Fleming, I chose nine ruba’is by Khayyam for the text. I opted to use the more precise translation of Peter Avery over the much freer translation by Edward Fitzgerald. Khayyam has a particular view about life, which is distinct among the Persian poets, and perhaps in the world. The concept of “live in the moment” is certainly much attributed to Khayyam. As a teenager, I was often puzzled by his poetry and didn’t care much for his philosophy. At the time I was mostly focused on political and social change under the Shah’s regime and found Khayyam’s philosophy passive. However, over the years I developed a greater appreciation for his views and now I relate to many of his ruba’is. “Songs of Eternity” explores the
What role does music play in the Iranian-American culture? The Iranian-American communities mostly favor pop or Iranian Classical music; the traditions they are most familiar with. In addition to these two, there are growing numbers of families who have developed a greater interest in classical music mostly through their children taking music lessons. I am happy to see a whole group of young musicians who perform at a high artistic level. It is encouraging to see how enthusiastically the Iranian-American communities attend concerts featuring these musicians or music composed by Iranian composers once they learn about them. I could mention two events with a tremendous support by the Persian communities.
From left to right: Gerard Schwarz, Renée Fleming, and Dr. Behzad Ranjbaran— September 14, 2002—Renee Fleming premiered "Songs Of Eternity" with Seattle Symphony, Gerard Schwarz conducting. "Songs of Eternity" is a song cycle for soprano and orchestra based on the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.Khayyam. (Courtesy of Seattle Symphony)
purpose of, in Khayyam’s word, this “coming and going” in life as well as his view of happiness and living in the moment. The piece ends with a refrain of “Seek out these, life once gone can not be sought again.” Your passion seems to be in preserving and showcasing ancient Persian epic poems and legends, yet you are considered to be a master of Western music, how do you blend these two sides together? Can you also tell us about your use of Persian instruments? I often draw inspiration from Persian subjects and incorporate elements of Persian music in my compositions. I find blending and fusing different elements as a natural process in composing, which has existed for centuries. Even the music of Bach, as cohesive as it sounds, is a mixture of Germanic polyphony blended with elements of French and Italian music. Regarding the use of Persian instruments, I prefer to emulate the character of their sound with the western instruments instead of using them in a symphony orchestra. I often draw inspiration from the sound of Ney, Kamancheh, Deraz Ney, and Santur in my works, but find it problematic to use these instruments in a symphony orchestra. For one thing, it is difficult to find highly trained Persian musicians who could play comfortably in a symphony orchestra. However in my Piano Concerto I used DAF (a framed Persian percussion instrument) to enhance the festive character of the piece. But that is a rarity in my works.
The first event was in 2008 when the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, conducted by JoAnn Falletta, performed my “Persian Trilogy” (80 minutes long) on the occasion of the millennium completion of Shahnameh. The concert which was part of the 40th anniversary of the International Society of Iranian Studies (ISIS) was attended by more than two thousands Iranians in the Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto. This multimedia performance was also noteworthy for it was the first of its kind to integrate Naghali (storytelling) of Shahnameh, projection of the Persian miniatures on large screen, with a large symphony orchestra. The second event was in March 2011, on the occasion of Nowruz, the Oakland East Bay Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Michael Morgan, performed an evening of music by mostly Iranian composers including my “Seemorgh.” This concert also featured Beethoven’s Triple Concerto performed by three Iranian-American soloists: Arash Amini, cello, Cyrus Beroukhim, violin, and Tara Kamangar, piano. About 3,000 people, mostly Iranians from the Bay area, attended this sold-out concert. Putting you on the spot a bit; being a professor at Juilliard, how do you handle a student who has the passion but not the talent, what do you tell him/her? Or a non-student who wants your opinion about their musical talent? I encourage people of all ages to play an instrument to experience the sheer joy of making music as one of the most fulfilling and engaging artistic
activities. However, to pursue music as a career requires a much higher degree of training and talent. The Juilliard School regularly attracts some of the best talents in the world and even these students have difficulty finding suitable jobs. I must add that art is not the only field being affected by the recent economic turmoil.
and others who show multiple talents. There are Renaissance men like Leonardo da Vinci and Omar Khayyam who had prominence for their artistry as well as their scientific contributions. In music there are multifaceted composers like Gustav Mahler and Leonard Bernstein who were also celebrated as conductors as well.
Do you have many Iranian-American students? Do you
Since a young age my life has been preoccupied with music and I enjoy composing and teaching immensely and can’t imagine life without it. I consider it a privilege to be able to continue both and don’t know how I would feel without them. Surely, I would feel a great loss if they were removed from my life.
have any advice for young Iranian-American musicians? Over the years we have had several Iranian-American students at Juilliard School. Apart from Arash Amini and Cyrus Beroukhim who graduated from Juilliard several years ago, I could also mention my own son, Armand Ranjbaran (a wonderful composer and a recent Juilliard graduate) and Sara Daneshpour, who was the only pianist representing the United States in the prestigious Tchaikovsky Piano Competition (2011) in St. Petersburg. There are many others around the country. I would like to see more collaboration among the young Iranian-American musicians, hopefully creating a national concert series to recognize and highlight their work among the Persian community. These are talented and accomplished young musicians. What do you tell to Iranian-American parents who do not support their children’s aspirations to follow a career in music instead of becoming a lawyer or a dentist? Ah, that is a tough question! It has never been easy to be an artist in any period and in any country. It is often safer to study in fields with more secure job opportunities. Moreover, we live in uncertain time and young musicians should be even more versatile than before. It is not uncommon these days for a music student to pursue a double major in college. It gives them more career options if music didn’t work out the way they envisioned. Of course that is true in any field when people change their profession for a variety of reasons. What regrets, if any, do you have when looking back across your career? Life is not perfect and we have to live with what we have. I am content with my past and errors, knowing well if there were a chance given to avert earlier mistakes, I would make new ones! It is the nature of life that there is no perfection and we take the good and bad together.
Do you have any rituals before you start composing a new piece? I often spend much time thinking and planning the overall shape of a new piece sketching many details before writing the actual work. Some works require much planning like my “Songs of Eternity” which was mentioned earlier. I spent many weeks reading the Ruba’iyat of Omar Khayyam repeatedly in order to select 9 couplets suitable for my project. Rubai is a closed-end miniature art form, which expresses one or more ideas in only two verses. It should be complete standing on it is own. In this project my challenge was to find couplets that would be arranged in 3 interrelated songs (each song comprising of 3 ruba’is) with certain conceptual progression, forming a beginning, middle and an end. I only began composing the music when the organization of the couplets was finalized. Another example of pre-compositional planning was in writing “Mithra” for orchestra, on a commission by three orchestras in Northern California. Before composing the piece, I began reading extensively on the Persian mythology of Mithra. Only after much research (often sources with contradictory opinions) I began to form a vision about the character of the piece, highlighting three elements of the mythology: Mithra as an individual, Mithra as the protector of the good forces in the battle against evil, and Mithra as the god of love, obligation, and affection. In addition to these, there are musical stages related to the pre-compositional planning involving the organization of the music that requires much technical detail.
I once read an advice from a well-known poet to an amateur poet. He told him that if like oxygen he cannot
And f inally, what are you working on currently?
live without writing poetry then he should pursue it, but
What is next?
if he can live without it then he should chose another
I just completed editing the “Enchanted Garden” for piano quintet inspired by the poetry of Hafez and the “Garden of Eram” in Shiraz. I am also sketching and composing several works including an orchestral piece.
career. Do you feel the same way about music? Is it something you cannot (like oxygen) live without? That is more of a 19th century European romantic view of an artist. Generally speaking, there exist all kinds of artists with different degree of immersion depending on their circumstances and time period. Some artists are completely devoted to only one field
Sara Zandieh FIL M M A K ER
Sara Zandieh is an Iranian-American filmmaker based in New York. She recently completed her M.F.A from Columbia University’s School of Arts. In 2009, she was awarded a Fulbright Grant for filmmaking in Istanbul where she wrote and directed the short film Yabanci (Foreigner). In 2010, she was selected to participate in a directing workshop at the French National Film School, La Fémis, where she wrote, directed, and edited the comedic short film, Deadline. Her film, The Pool Party premiered at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival where it received special jury mention, won Best Student Short at Cinequest Film Festival, and played at film festivals worldwide including the Abu Dhabi Film Festival, Birds Eye View Film Festival, and Palm Springs International ShortFest. Sara is currently finishing up a new short film, Party USA, starring Maz Jobrani. She is also developing two feature screenplays.
ZAN: How did you get involved with f ilmmaking? I’ve always been interested in people’s stories. I approached storytelling first through journalism. I worked as a freelance video-jounralist for three years before deciding that film was the medium that I wanted to be working in. When I moved to New York, I produced a story about Iranian filmmaker, Amir Naderi, and he recruited me to help on one of his projects. He also encouraged me to start my own work and I did. I wrote two screenplays and started a short film before deciding to go to film school. When I told him that I’m going to go to film school he was disappointed because he doesn’t believe in learning art through an institution but everyone has their own way. Going to Columbia and learning the craft was a great experience. It was an interesting experience to work for him, I think he’s an important artist. That experience really marked me and led me to become a filmmaker.
Maz Jobrani in his starring role in ‘Party USA’
How does being Iranian and American affect your work? I feel pretty hypheniated actually. Both cultures really influence me as a person and filmmaker. While I was raised mostly in the US, I am such a huge fan of Iranian cinema. Some of my favorite films are from Iran: The Cow, The Runner, Close-up, The Taste of Cherry to name a few. The recent work of Asghar Farhadi has also been really exciting to follow. So cinema is one of the parts of Iranian culture that I love and admire and find easy to connect to. Having said that, I grew up on American movies and cinema so that inevitably shaped my development.
and younger cousins to see Harry Potter. My concern with Hollywood is when it starts to define culture. I think the American film culture is so much more than “entertainment”. What’s next for you? I’m working on completing my latest short film, Party USA, which is currently in post-production. It’s about a recent Iranian immigrant, Reza, who has moved his family to the LA suburbs. The film chronicles a trip to a suburban mall where Reza tries to show his 5 year-old son a good time. Things take an unexpected turn after he loses his car in the parking lot.
I also oscillate between using professional and non-professional actors (common with Iranian filmmakers). I never intentionally decide to use non-professional actors but they always manage to creep in. On my last film, I had an actor cancel last minute for the role of the grandfather so I had to ask my 88 year old great-aunt to come fill in. We picked her up from her senior citizen center and she really came through. She said that she was always mistaken for Sophia Loren in her youth and was grateful to finally be discovered at 88!
It’s a satire on the immigrant experience and the feeling of displacement. Maz Jobrani plays the lead. He is an incredible comedian and brings so much heart and humor to the main character.
I also find the paradoxes in Iranian and American cinema really interesting like how there are more female directors in Iran than in the US. Most people wouldn’t assume that given the political landscape of Iran and the restrictions on women but I’d say Hollywood can be even tougher on women. Very amusing to find these incongruities.
Absolutely. They are often confronting similar challenges and it inspires me to see how they deal with it all. I’d extend that comment to any first generation artist that is struggling to reconcile where they come from and where they live.
I’m also working on the feature length version of the short and another screenplay about at an Indian-American wedding. Are you inspired by other Iranian-American women from your generation? How so?
Do you prefer Hollywood or Indie f ilms? I definitely appreciate American independent films more but I am definitely not of the mindset that everything out of Hollywood is bad. I think Hollywood films have a certain place in cinema. I actually enjoy going to the movies with my family
BASICS written by Rouzheen Arianpour
Money - the most taboo yet ubiquitous subject amongst Iranian-
Americans. As a young professional entering into the workforce at a time when the retirement age is escalating, it seems like my generation will have to work until an age when our bones will be too brittle to really enjoy our dream house or that dream vacation. Furthermore, personal challenges like death and divorce are painful and emotionally draining in their own way without having to deal with the financial ramifications that can additionally occur. So, make life a little easier on yourself and plan ahead!
Expect the Unexpected We are the offspring of the “50% of marriages end in divorce” generation. Recently, my mother asked me why so many of my friends and I break-up and make-up with the same person. We just need to be sure. Maybe we understand the consequences of young impulsive love. So, be practical and be aware of the consequences of divorce. For example, Texas is a community property state, meaning property earned during the marriage and everything acquired with those earnings is generally divided equally between the spouses. Some states also take into consideration separate property which a spouse would be entitled to keep; however, Texas is not that kind of state. The key to a successful financial divorce is to ensure decisions are made without anger and are not the result of emotional impulses. Many couples turn to divorce mediation using a neutral third party which saves in attorney fees. Since I am not an attorney, I cannot provide a fail-safe plan as to how to manage and protect your money. I can, however, suggest a way that might alleviate the notorious consequences that arise after a divorce. Since Texas is a common property state and everything is subject to being split in the middle, an arrangement to set up a separate, joint account when you marry might be a possible solution within the divorce hearings. From this joint account both spouses can contribute a certain percentage of their income and the money can be used for items that will be community property such as home mortgage payments, car payments, insurance premiums, groceries and home bills. Assuming each spouse had an account prior to the marriage, I would suggest that the individuals keep those accounts and use that money to purchase their separate property. When I marry, I hope to be with him until we are both old and grey, but I just don’t anticipate him having to pay for my periodic Anthropologie splurges. With this separate account, you may have some room for negotiation in the event of a divorce.
Be Smart In all of my research and experience with the recession, I have managed to a find a consistent mantra spoken by all the experts: Don’t live beyond your means and set goals. It is a simple philosophy and easily applicable to anyone at every financial status. If your expenses outweigh your income, you are living beyond your means. Financial experts suggest that maintaining a savings equal to 3 to 6 months of your pay is the best situation to be in to protect yourself from unexpected expenses. If you find yourself with little to no savings, then it is time to begin setting a goal. Although it sounds trite, setting a financial goal is just as crucial to a child saving up for a video game as it is for Warren Buffet’s next corporate takeover. Begin with one month’s pay and gradually expand your goal.
It’s never too late to plan for your future and protect yourself from the unexpected. of if you are unable to earn your income. Investing early not only provides assurance that you will be financially stable if you are unable to work, but also certain term and group life insurance policies can be your saving grace before you clear out your savings and 401k for an unexpected expense. Depending on your situation, and of course your policy, your life insurance benefits can be used for medical payments or your children’s college funds. Ensure that part of your paycheck is being invested in a 401(k) or individual retirement account (IRA). Roth IRAs are the most tax beneficial because the eventual withdrawal will not be taxable, and you will most likely be in a higher tax bracket when it comes time to withdraw from that account. Exchange traded funds (ETFs) are popular investments these days. ETFs are similar to mutual funds except the ETF only consists of stocks whereas mutual funds include stocks, bonds, and other securities. There are a variety of investments available that entirely depend on your desired risk exposure. Regardless of your level of risk aversion, make sure that you diversify your portfolio. Depending on your financial status, the previous suggestions should be done before, concurrently, or after the purchase of insurance policies. These suggestions are important and beneficial, but the steps on your financial ladder depend entirely on your comfort and income level.
Tomorrow Your financial situation can change in a heartbeat or over a decade. Although there are multiple options available, don’t get overwhelmed. Protect yourself and set your goals in a simple manner. There are several helpful websites that can help you manage your financial goals such as Mint.com. If you feel that is too advanced, just open up a simple excel spreadsheet and track your expenses. It’s never too late to plan for your future and protect yourself from the unexpected. Rouzheen Arianpour is a Senior Auditor at Ernst & Young in Houston.
Once you have developed your savings, consider protecting yourself – your most lucrative asset. Investing in disability and life insurance early in your career ensures that you will be taken care
model Nasim Arab
photography Tiffany cintron
Can you pass the garlic bread please? A simple solution to more peaceful holiday dinners
Holiday dinners can be tricky affairs. They bring us together as family and friends, and although most of us derive pleasure from these gatherings, the reality of life is rarely as peachy as most movies and commercials portray! Immediate family members are connected through deeply rooted experiences— some good and some bad. Then spouses, children, extended family and friends get thrown into the mix, and often passed issues, tensions, and a multitude of personality differences come into play—creating a perfect recipe for family-dinner-drama. However, researchers say that garlic bread might be your perfect solution to more drama-free dinners! The Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation conducted a study to measure the effects of the odor and taste of garlic bread on family interactions. They were curious to find out if introducing certain odors and tastes would change the mood and emotional tone around the dinner table. The study included fifty families, family size ranging from two to twelve individuals, with a total of 182 individual participants. All fifty families had two identical spaghetti dinners, one with the garlic bread and one without the bread. Researchers conducted two dinner events to compare, and in general their results indicated that if one wants to improve the mood, tone, and the general experience during dinner, one should serve up a nice, big, warm basket of garlic bread! Interestingly enough, the presence of garlic bread not only reduced the number of negative family interactions but it additionally increased the positive interactions during dinner. In the presence of the garlic bread aroma and taste the average reduction in negative interactions was 22.7% and the increase in positive interactions was 7.4%, with the negative interactions of the “dominant” male showing the most reductions! The older the participants, the more likely that the garlic bread increased pleasant interactions, and those who just liked garlic bread in the first place showed the greatest overall increase in positive interactions. Some of the men and women in the study explained that the garlic bread made the meal feel special, adding to the pleasant mood and positive responses. So, for the holidays this year, add a nice warm basket of garlic bread to the dinner menu and watch the mood elevate around your table! References Hirsch, A. (2001). What flavor is your personality? Discover who you are by looking at what you eat. Sourcesbooks Inc: Naperville, IL., Pg 109-117.
Pomegranate-Infused Turkey Braise A recipe from renowned chef, Najmieh Batmanglij
Making fesenjan using grape and pomegranate molasses is an ancient tradition in Iranian cooking. Here, this delicious concoction reminds me of the famous Mexican sauce known as mole, which uses peppers and chocolate. Fesenjan-e Buqalamu
notes If you don’t want to use a whole turkey, you can buy 6 to 7 pounds of already cut up thighs and breasts. Grind all your spices just before using. I like to use Sadaf pure pomegranate juice and pomegranate molasses for this recipe. All the spices and other ingredients in this recipe are available at Whole Foods or Iranian markets. RECIPE FROM: Food of Life: Ancient Persian and Modern Iranian Cooking and Ceremonies, by Najmieh Batmanglij
1 turkey (6–7 pounds), butterflied (backbone removed)
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Rinse and thoroughly pat dry the turkey.
2. Rub the turkey all over with the dusting mixture.
Mixture of 1 teaspoon sea salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, 1 teaspoon turmeric, and 1 tablespoon flour
sauce 3 tablespoons oil, butter, or ghee* 2 large yellow onions, peeled and finely diced 10 cloves garlic, peeled 1 cup raw walnuts or pistachios 4 cups pomegranate juice 1/4 cup pomegranate molasses 2 tablespoons grape molasses or honey 2 teaspoons sea salt 2 teaspoons red pepper flakes 1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper 1 tablespoon ground cardamom 1 tablespoon ground cumin 1 teaspoon saffron threads ground and dissolved in 2 tablespoons rose water
garnish fresh arils (seeds) of 1 pomegranate 1/4 cup walnut halves
3. In a wide, frying pan heat 3 tablespoons oil over medium heat until very hot and sear the turkey on both sides. Remove from the pan and place in a large, deep baking dish. 4. Place the onion and garlic in the frying pan and sauté until golden brown. Transfer the onion and garlic mixture to a food processor and add the remaining ingredients—but only 1 cup of pomegranate juice. Grind finely until you have a smooth sauce (not grainy). 5. Add the sauce and remaining pomgranate juice to the baking dish. 6. Cover the turkey (if you don’t have a cover use a piece of parchment paper and then aluminum foil on top). Bake in a 350°F (180°C) preheated oven for 3 hours. Uncover and turn the turkey in its sauce. Continue to bake uncovered for 45 minutes or until the turkey falls off the bone easily. Adjust seasoning by adding more salt, pepper, or grape molasses. Cover and keep warm in the oven until ready to serve. Just before serving, garnish with pomegranate seeds and toasted walnuts. 7. Serve with saffron flavored rice. Nush-e Jan! MAKES 6 SERVINGS | PREPARATION TIME: 45 MIN | COOKING TIME: 3 HRS 45 MIN
All Proceeds Go to The Center Serving Persons with Mental Retardation
Crispy, Crunchy, Spicy... Cakes and Cookies with a Heart
Mom’s corner written by Zohreh Ghahremani
Who is the stronger partner, the man or the woman?
That question will never receive a satisfactory answer, especially not where Zan, the Iranian woman is concerned. Regardless of the long way we have come from the sex symbol days, women continue to be labeled “the weaker sex” and “the more delicate” while our men boast about being the strong ones who support us. Young Iranian American women are in a class all their own because they were raised by mothers, who experienced centuries of change in just decades. Less than a century ago, our grandmothers wore black shrouds that covered them head to toe, had no life outside the house, and those who knew the meaning of “choice” were well aware of its limitations. Hard as it may be to believe, these same women were the grandchildren of history’s liberated women such as Shirin, the Persian heroine, who rode her horse alongside men and led the troop on hunting trips. That may explain why, despite the imposed restrictions, women continued to rule over their men. Much like the quote from the movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, while men acted as the “head,” women were the “neck” that controlled their every move! Still, they were left with numerous problems. Having no social freedom, they wouldn’t dream of having a career and there was no limit to the number of children they bore. As if that wasn’t enough, men enjoyed the freedom to take multiple wives. So how did we manage to jump from such a grim state of affairs to getting rid of hejab, and finding our way to the university? A miracle, if you ask me, and good on us for taking a “man’s job” and reaching the point where we watched our daughters become leaders and scholars – not to mention artists, singers, musicians and dancers. How lucky it is to be among a generation that enjoyed free-
dom and were raised by mothers who knew its value! Not only did we have a better place in our society, but for the first time, women were also allowed to have fun – and I don’t mean a gathering to make preserves and smoke hooka! From arts to entertainment and sports such as swimming, skiing and tennis, we had it all. Universities, as well as a few high schools, turned co-ed and more women found employment as engineers, architects, and yes, dentists! Having vivid memories of the previous two generations, it isn’t surprising that some of us feel as if we have lived for centuries. In fact, our upbringing and the remembrance of the past may well be the distinguishing factor in our strong characters. So the question remains: Are women really as fragile as they’ve been portrayed? And if so, how has zan managed to not only survive, but to also overcome the atrocious standards aimed at constraining her? Our history, added to the complexities of the female persona, lead us to a most fascinating subject, one that will require volumes. Mom’s Corner may just be the place we need to address such issues. I’ll brew the
tea and you sit down and talk to me about the many topics on which we hold diverse views. Together we will create a halfway house where we can have some fun with what remains of our differences. I hope we’ll be able to enjoy good humor while probing issues that tend to create the dreaded generational gap. No, we may not agree on Lady Gaga to the point where we’ll buy sixteen-inch-heels or wear smelly outfits of raw meat, but we may understand what you like about her! In return, I’ll try to explain the beauty, indeed the necessity, of Ta’arof and why Mom is always right! So be prepared - and get those feet off my coffee
table - because you’re hereby invited to a series of fun discussions on our cultural differences and moral issues. Zohreh Ghahremani is the author of Sky Of Red Poppies. www.ZoeGhahremani.com. Questions, suggestions and comments are most welcome: ZohrehGhahremani@ZanMagazine.com
women’s conference leaves
“Enlightened, Inspired, and Empowered” attendees Iranian-American Women—trailblazers who have achieved both professional and personal successes—lead workshops and panel discussions for 600 of their peers
As a successful Persian-American woman making an impact
in Orange County and beyond, it was the long-term dream of Mariam Khosravani to organize a women’s conference that would foster connectivity, stimulate creativity, and evoke courage within a group of her peers. That dream came to life on January 30, 2011 as the Coastline Community College Foundation hosted the first-ever Iranian-American Women’s Leadership Conference themed “Pathways to Success.” Having served as the Executive Director of the Coastline Foundation for more than 10 years, Mariam and her team had hosted numerous events ranging from galas to golf tournaments, but none were as excited, well-attended, or personally fulfilling as the Iranian-American Women’s Leadership Conference (known in short as the “IAW”). “From the very start of our planning, we were inundated with interest and calls from women wanting to register to attend. There was immediate momentum,” Mariam remem-
bers. More than 600 women attended the first event. Attendee Alaleh Kamran encouraged the Coastline Foundation to make this event an annual one. “Do not stop what you have begun,” she pleaded. “There is such momentum, such enthusiasm and such love pouring into the conference, that it has to grow.” Because of that momentum and demand for an encore, the Coastline Foundation prepared and hosted the second annual event October 23, 2011 at the Hilton Orange County in Costa Mesa, California, that we will cover in greater detail in our next issue of Zan. Like the initial event, the October conference was designed to be a forum for Iranian-American women to discuss hot topics, network, and find support from peers. “It’s a place for them to talk, to share, to learn, and to grow,” explains Paula Coker, who helps to coordinate the event from the Coastline Foundation office. “It’s an event that empowers IranianAmerican women from Orange County and beyond,” she added.
had to this event,” shared Mariam. “As conference presenters spoke about challenges they had to overcome—and, of course, as our audience related—there were lots of tears.” The Coastline Foundation plan did stock up on Kleenex for the October event! The first IAW Leadership Conference touted speakers like Anousheh Ansari, the first female space tourist; Nazanin Boniadi, a BritishIranian Actress; Firoozeh Dumas, author of “Funny in Farsi” and “Laughing without an accent”; and the Honorable Tamila Ebrahimi Ipema, Judge of the San Diego Superior Court. In addition to interesting panel discussions, the IAW Leadership Conference provides attendees with ample opportunities to eat, shop, talk, and build lasting friendships. For more information please visit www.iawleadership.org or call (714) 241-6154.
“We really were unprepared for the emotional response women
SaSa Designs dares the imagination, Creating and promoting unique art pieces To challenge and amuse. sasadesigns.com
written by Kafah Bachari Manna
I meant to turn right at the last stop but Maman was shaking a box of liquor filled chocolates at my head. “Rostam. You never go empty handed when you ask for a girl’s hand in marriage. Vay.” “Maman, I understand. But Aisha’s parents are religious. You can’t take liquor as a gift.” We were late because I’d spent the better part of an hour convincing my mother to get in the car. It was
mid-summer and I was wearing the only suit I’d ever owned, a black pin stripped wool number that used to belong to my father. I was sweating, as I do, being a big man under a hot sun, causing the hair gel to slide down the side of my face standing there in her doorway. “How can we drive ourselves to this young woman’s house? Tell me? What kind of a dignified family doesn’t expect their bridegroom to come in a chauffeured car?” Maman stood defiantly by the front door, her hair pulled
back, hard, into a severe bun, with her neck covered in all of her best gold.
liquor filled chocolates to her chest. She’d bought the chocolates on her last trip to Paris. She wouldn’t share them with anyone. “For special day only” she’d told my Aunt Mina, her closest sister.
“Maman, just get in the car, we can’t be late.” “Does your wife know you speak to ladies like this?”
“It’s just like the old days when you’d hoard the good saffron and act like you were the reason your dishes tasted better.”
“She isn’t my wife and she never will be if you don’t get in the car.”
“At least I didn’t get turmeric confused with cinnamon.”
I tugged at her gently.
“Ok, but what does that have to do with sharing some chocolate with your little sister?”
“Please, Maman, please.” She moved slowly, grumbling about how, if my father were alive, I’d remember that I had Qajar blood in my veins and I wouldn’t spoil such pedigree by marrying an Arab girl. I circle back and turn left into a modest neighborhood. My mother gasps. The lawns here aren’t well maintained and in some of them there are children’s toys strewn haphazardly in the brown grass. “Your Aisha, she lives here?” “Around here Maman, we still have a few streets to go.” “Lots of Mexicans here, Rostam joon. Lots of Spanish people.” “Maman, please don’t start with that.” “I know Mexican people from restaurant Rostam, they poor, most of them. They very poor people.” “And what is wrong with being poor Maman? You weren’t exactly rich when you got here.” “The trouble with poor people is they hungry. Maybe this Aisha, this Arab girl, looking for a rich boy take care of her?” “No, it isn’t like that.” “And I wasn’t poor when I come here. I was widow. Our family money stuck in Iran.” I make the left past Addison Street and come to Aisha’s parents’ house. There is a brand new BMW parked in front, next to a Range Rover and an Audi—the one Aisha’s dad bought for her from the dealership where I work, where we met, as her graduation gift. The house is the largest and newest on the block. “Vay.” Maman said. I open the car door for Maman and lead her by the elbow to the doorway. Two lion-heads carved into the mahogany wood door roar disapprovingly at us as I ring the doorbell. She holds her
“For special day only,” she said again and looked at me with too much hope. I was past my prime already. I’d dropped out of school by then and had just started working at the car dealership—temporarily, I thought—until I was 6 years in and the guys called me Rusty and I felt like I belonged. “Why no one opens the door?” Maman asks. I send Aisha a text message telling her we are at the door. I ring the doorbell again. “I am very hot Rostam.” The door cracks open a little and Aisha darts out quickly and shuts the door behind her. “Ms. Nimapour, salam aliekoum. Welcome.” She hugs my mother hastily. “Rostam,” she says, “there is a problem. I don’t think we can do this today.” “Excuse me, but this not how you treat guests. Come on Rostam. This family have no class.” Maman pulls my arm. “Wait, Maman, you wait in the car.” I hand her the keys but she just stands there, staring down Aisha. “Aisha, I don’t understand?” She looks down, the way she does when she is thinking. I’d seen it plenty of times before. We’d meet at the coffee shop around the corner from UTMB where she was finishing her last year of medical school. I’d ask her about her studies, just to see her eyes light up as she explained the brilliant way synapses recorded the lessons of human life, mapping themselves in our brains like small worlds unleashed in our skulls. Feeling high on her enthusiasm, I’d ask her to come over to my place for dinner and she’d do the same thing she was doing now, look down into her hands like the question was something she could hold, turn around, and consider. “I’m sorry.” She’d said so many times, and it was the same thing she said now. “I’m sorry Rostam. He says he won’t agree with me marrying someone uneducated.”
“What are you saying? You brought me to your house with my mother to humiliate me?”
“Rostam is smartest boy I know.” “Maman, it’s ok.” “No, it not ok. This girl make us drive ourselves across city to this kind of place to look at tacky house with her stupid father inside like he king. And look at her, plain and dark with veil on her head like she’s scared somebody going to see her greasy hair.”
It wasn’t like that, she said. Her father wanted her to marry a doctor, preferably a surgeon, better yet, an Emperor, and she implied to him that I was planning on going to medical school. He’d believed it, until he realized that Rostam Nimapour was the Rusty from the Audi Dealership who had sold him her car. “So, what happens to us, Aisha?”
“Maman, enough.” “You should go, Rostam.” I take Maman to the car and before I get in I turn to wave goodbye to Aisha, but she’s gone back inside. As I pull out of the driveway, Maman puts a square of chocolate to my mouth. “Open,” she says and I do. I open and the chocolate melts.
It was stupid for me to think it would work between us. It wasn’t enough, just loving each other, I should have thought about how we’d never match up.
I watched as Aisha sat in the corner of the Starbucks on Fannin, twisting the loose ends of her headscarf with her small hands. I was late meeting her, but she couldn’t see me standing outside, looking at her from behind the glass. She shifted her weight, moved her coffee cup, glancing repeatedly at her watch. It occurred to me that standing outside, being outside, was before and once I went inside to talk to Aisha, everything would become after; my life after Aisha was gone. I wanted to believe I would move on, but I had the desperate need for something to hold onto. I walked inside, the refrigerated air was infected with the smell of coffee. Aisha stood up when she saw me. “Rostam, I’m so sorry.” She looked small. Her face just eyes—wide and innocent. I hugged her, held onto her a second too long, and she pried herself from me and sat back down. “What happened Aisha?” “I didn’t think my father would react the way he did.” “Didn’t you prepare him? I thought your family knew we were seeing each other.” She looked up, then at some point behind me. If there was an answer, I’d hoped she could find it, and that it could repair what was suddenly broken. “I—I didn’t exactly tell him everything.”
“Are you planning on selling cars for the rest of your life?” I leaned back in my chair, so far back that the front legs came off the ground, hovering, and maybe for a moment I was balanced on the hind legs in defiance of the laws of physics.
It was stupid for me to think it would work between us. It wasn’t enough, just loving each other, I should have thought about how we’d never match up. Not me to Aisha, not Aisha to my mother, not her father to me. I’d been with other women, enough to have let go of sweet notions like love outside the context of class and race and status. Aisha was different, was new and untarnished, was sheltered enough to believe in good things, in good things being possible. And here, I’d fallen under her spell willingly, knowing it wasn’t magic but impossibilities we were conjuring up and meditating on. “I wasn’t planning on it once, but that was a long time ago.” I took her coffee cup in my hand. Her smudge of pink lipstick was on it and she’d chewed the rim on one side. I took it, kissed her cheek, and walked out of the door. That night, I dreamt that she’d called after me. But in the morning, it was still just me in the room.
FEMALE GENITAL CIRCUMCISION A cultural practice to be tolerated or abolished? written by Sarrah Zadeh
As you read this article, there
is a little girl in Somalia, about seven years of age, who is being held down by her mother and other women in her family, while a ‘medicine’ woman is cutting and removing her external genitals. The little girl, fully conscious, screams and cries until she passes out from shock or until the ritual of welcoming her into womanhood comes to an end.
Female Genital Circumcision (FGC), partial or the total cutting away of the external genitals, is currently being practiced in 28 countries on girls 16 years and younger. FGC has been declared a violation of human right, however, as a global society, is it our obligation to stop such violations or do we need to respect each other’s cultural beliefs and practices? A majority of FGC cases are performed in North
Africa with the highest percentages found in Somalia, Sudan, Egypt, and Mali. There are also reports (smaller in numbers) in Malaysia, Indonesia, Oman, Saudi, Jordan, Yemen, Kurds of Iraq, and individual tribes in Australia and South America. The procedure, itself, is classified into three main types. From type I, Clitoridectomy, considered the “least severe,” where part, or all, of the clitoris is amputated, to Infibulation, the third and most extreme type found in Somalia and Sudan. With Infibulation, the clitoris and labia minor are cut away, and labia major is either removed or sewn together covering the vagina and leaving only a small hole for urine and menstrual fluid. Following the procedure, the child is wrapped up from her legs to her waist to let her scars heal. Type II, Excision, is the removal of clitoris and labia minor. There is also a type IV, seen mostly in Indonesia, where the clitoris is pricked or pierced. FGC is usually conducted under very unsanitary and crude environments by medically untrained
practitioners. Apart from the sheer emotional and bodily pain these girls endure, the physical problems that arise from genital female circumcisions are tremendous, comprising but not limited to hemorrhaging (at times to death), shock, UTI, nerve damage, sterility, infections, AIDS, etc. With all these complications, one must ask: Why are mothers subjecting their daughters to such acts? Female Genital Circumcision is a cultural and social practice, performed for society’s acceptance and also as a rite of passage into womanhood, it does not have a religious origin. In some societies the girl’s family throws her a party, very similar to a quinceañera or a bat mitzvah, where she is celebrated and receives gifts. In societies where FGC is performed, a woman’s virginity is of great value. Having a daughter’s vaginal opening covered will keep her from having premarital intercourse and will guarantee her marriage to a good husband. This ritual is also based on cultural philosophies of modesty and femininity, and the belief that girls are clean and beautiful after the removal of body parts considered unclean. Female Genital Circumcision is an important element in raising a proper daughter and preparing her for adulthood. Bride prices and family honor are other key factors for FGC. For example, in some African tribes, a girl’s younger brother cannot be initiated into being a warrior if his sister is not circumcised. Although FGC is a cultural practice, it is at times related to religion, particularly in Islam. However, nowhere in the Quran does it state a requirement for Female Genital Circumcision. According to religious leaders, the Quran states that one should not modify his/her body, and that the clitoris’ only purpose is to give pleasure between a wife and husband. Nevertheless, there is a quote in the Hadith from the Prophet advising a woman from Medina on how to perform the act. Religious leaders argue that the woman was determined to do the circumcision, and so the Prophet suggested a less painful way to carry out the act. It is important to note that this ritual is practiced within a spectrum of different religions. FGC pre-dates Islam, Christianity, and even Judaism. A Greek papyrus in 163 B.C. mentions Egyptian mummies having type I and type III. In the second century, the Greek Physician, Soranos, wrote a book on Gynecology stating that a large clitoris is a sign of wickedness, and that such women
would have their flesh stimulated. In 1666, a German book on surgery shows illustrations on how to amputate the clitoris, and until the 1860’s Female Genital Circumcision was practiced in England.
One of the most
Today many countries have illegalized Female Genital Circumcision, and NPOs such as United Nations and WHO are implementing programs in hopes of eradicating it. Although numbers have declined as a result of educational programs on the effects of the procedure, FGC is still being strongly practiced due to its immense social influence. In some countries, however, due to the educational programs the unsanitary conditions of the procedures have changed, and some are being done in hospitals with properly trained medical personnel under anesthesia. While in other places, the programs have backfired because people felt that their culture was under attack.
ritual is to change
One of the most effective ways to end this dangerous ritual is to change the way people think, starting with the families of the sons who will one day marry these young girls. Although it is necessary to speak to the parents of the girls, it is simply not enough. The mothers often worry about finding a good husband for their daughters. On the other hand, educating and informing the young men and their families about the complications that could arise from the procedure, such as sterility and child birth difficulties, one could help decrease the desire to marry a girl who has had Female Genital Circumcision. We can offer as much information as possible on the harmful effects of Female Genital Circumcision but until the demand for it is decreased or stopped, these little girls will continue to be “cut” for the sake of virginity, womanhood, and marriage. References www.fgmnetwork.org/intro/fgmintro.php www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs241/en/ www.unicef.org/protection/index_genitalmutilation.html www.topics.nytimes.com/topics/news/health/ diseasesconditionsandhealthtopics/femalegenitalmutilation/index.html www.amnesty.org Half the sky, by Nicolas Kristof and Sheryl Wudunn www.members.tripod.com/~Wolvesdreams/FGM.html www.guttmacher.org/pubs/journals/2313097.html
effective ways to end this dangerous the way people think, starting with the families of the sons who will one day marry these young girls.
TRUE LIFE T H E S TO R Y O F KO R OTO U M D I A R R A
A blood stained table was where Korotoum, a 20-year old woman from Mali, received her education about the common practice of female genital mutilation. That was where two women from her village held her down as, unanesthetized, her clitoris was removed. An ointment applied afterwards stopped the bleeding, but it did not stop the pain. Her wedding night was where Korotoum learned about her husband, a far older individual whom she had never met, and where she began to learn first hand about the sexual mores of segments of Malian society. It was a meeting she had sought to avoid. She had pled with her mother, to no avail, to undo the fruits of her father’s negotiations over a bride price and a wedding date. And when those efforts failed, she fled. She did not get far because her family relentlessly searched for Korotoum at friend’s homes and in her village. After she was captured, Korotoum received severe beatings. She still bears the scars from the beatings. The marriage lived up to Korotoum’s fears. Her husband forced himself on her to consummate their marriage. The night after, when Korotoum resisted again, he brought in two women to hold Korotoum down. The forced contact continued for the first week of their marriage during which Korotoum was confined to a hut and abated only when Korotoum’s husband left to spend time with his two other wives. Three months later, Korotoum’s husband died as a result of an illness. Korotoum then feared “levirate marriage,” a tradition in Mali society that upon the death of her husband, a woman becomes the wife of a surviving brother-in-law. Neither widow nor brother-in-law can resist the obligation. The prospect of another forced marriage was particularly disturbing here because Korotoum knew her late husband’s brother abused his two wives. And she did not want to be subjected to further marital rape. Korotoum formulated a plan to escape. With the help of some relatives in France, she applied for a student visa and fled to the United States.
raise the child, Korotoum refused to return to Mali. She did not want her daughter to be subjected as she had to the accepted practices of mutilation, forced marriage, and rape. Korotoum miscarried during the eighth month of pregnancy. Her family blamed the miscarriage on a failed circumcision. Korotoum’s family informed her that she must return to Mali to receive a second circumcision and to marry her late-husband’s brother. Her family, like other members of her tribe, believed that marital and fertility difficulties are caused by being “uncut” or if the mutilation is not adequately performed. Despite intense pressure from her family, Korotoum resisted. She sought help from the Houston office of the Tahirih Justice Center, a national non-profit organization that specializes in protecting immigrant and refugee women and girls fleeing gender based violence through legal services, education and public policy advocacy. Tahirih, in turn, partnered with Georgianna Braden, an attorney with the prestigious law firm of Winston & Strawn, who filed a petition for asylum on Korotoum’s behalf. Tahirih, Braden, and Korotoum had a difficult burden. They had to prove not only that these events had occurred but, to meet the legal requirements of asylum, they had to show that they were “on account of ” her membership in a particular social group of Malian women fearing female genital mutilation and forced marriage. What the attorneys explained to the Immigration Court was that the torture visited upon Korotoum was typical of those from her tribe. Korotoum’s tribe follows a pattern of patrilineal descent. As such, male elders arrange marriages for their children as a means of making alliances between families and perpetuating each family’s perspective lineage. Female genital mutilation is pervasive in Mali. 96% of women there have experienced some kind of circumcision. Korotoum’s tribe believes that the cutting process purifies a woman and transforms a child into an adult and a female cannot engage in sexual activity or legitimately produce children until circumcised. Her inability to relocate within Mali was also typical. In a society where marriages are arranged for dependents, there is little room for dissent of those being betrothed. Levirate marriage is also a tradition in much of Mali. Although it took almost a year, the Houston Immigration Court granted asylum to Korotoum in July 2011. Korotoum is excited to be able to stay in the United States attending school and working. She looks forward to her future and desires to help others who also want to redefine or resist cultural norms and practices they find abhorrent. For more information about Tahirih Justice Center Please Visit: www.tahirih.org
Shortly after arriving in the United States, Korotoum discovered that she was pregnant with her late husband’s child. Despite the demands of her family and their assurances that her late husband’s family would
a Master Weaver in Arizona Nima Soltani Talks to Zan
ZAN: Can you tell us a bit about you? Where you were born, where you grew up, and where you currently reside. I was born in Isfahan, Iran, and spent the first few years of my life there. When I was 3 years old, my family moved to Overland Park, Kansas, where I grew up. After high school, I enlisted in the United States Marine Corp, which stationed me in Hawaii. I spent one year there in addition to my time in service, and Hawaii greatly influenced me, possibly more than some of the other places I have lived. I currently reside in Scottsdale, Arizona with my fiancée and our two cats!
started weaving. I remember my aunt being upset with me because I used a Turkish instead of Persian knot. After that I pursued my love of weaving and art, and obtained the certification and education to be a Master Weaver. I still love learning about rugs and their rich history. I am constantly educating myself and broadening my horizons. More recently, I have worked with Navajo Master Weavers to learn more about the weaving and care of Navajo rugs.
Great many Iranian-Americans, and many others around the world, own and admire Persian carpets, what are some How did you become a Master Weaver?
of the mistakes many make in their care of these carpets?
What brought you to this craft?
People’s biggest mistake is the belief that all rugs are the same, and thus can all be cleaned by the same process. Even if made by the same Master Weaver, each rug is unique needs special care. For instance, Persian Master Weavers use four different types of dyes, and we use a process that makes the rug age better which certain types of cleaning may reverse by stripping excess dyes from the rug. Or if, for example, you give your expensive silk rugs to an inexperienced person who treats the silk rug as if it is wool, you are risking serious damage to your rug. I only trust my silk rugs with fellow Master Weavers to ensure the highest quality of cleaning. A proper cleaning will not only beautifully clean the rug, but it will also extend the rug’s life span.
I studied at the University of Tehran and the University of Isfahan. I also interned with the Sierafian family in Isfahan, an esteemed Master Weaver family. All collectors love and respect Sierafian rugs. I have also been commissioned [to train restorers and staff ] in museums abroad, including the Museum of Fine Carpets in Tehran, Iran, and the Musée de la Tapisserie de Bayeux in France. From a young age, I wanted to become a Master Weaver. Our family has a tradition of master weavers going back three generations. On a trip to Iran, when I was a child, I saw a loom at my aunt’s house and I was instantly captivated. Without any prior instruction, I just
If someone is interested in becoming a weaver in the US, how does he/she go about it? Anywhere they can learn the craft? Not in the United States, unless I am willing to teach them! They can receive the education in Turkey or Iran. The program is roughly 2-5 years depending on their talent.
Any tricks of the trade about carpet care that you could give us, to keep our carpets cleaner and in good shape? Do not spot-clean stains. This will freeze in the stain and make it harder for me to remove it, and more costly. For spills blot only, do not scrub. The Best thing to do if you do not know what you are doing is nothing. Rotate your rug annually for even wear on the rug. Do not vacuum your rug with the beater bar on. Also, feel free to contact us with any questions, we are happy to provide advice on the proper care of your rugs. All of our contact information can be found at www.passionofpersia.com and if you fill in our online form we always respond within 24 hours.
What are the things you enjoy most about being a Master Weaver? I enjoy the challenges, performing work that no one else in can in this country, such as restoring fine silk Persian rugs. Clients are amazed when I make museum quality repairs to rugs that their local rug stores had said were irreparable. I love being able to clean rugs to perfection, and I love the look on my client’s face when the damaged or soiled rug comes back whole, beautiful, and so soft that it feels like new. I also enjoy the opportunity my business provides to show Americans the positive side of the Persian culture and dispel some of the prejudices people hold. But I love it all. I enjoy every knot I re-weave. I named my business Passion of Persia because rugs are truly my passion.
Tales from the Zirzameen by Brian H. Appleton
It’s relevant! It’s funny! Read it! For more info visit www.zirzameen.com
FROM THE TO THE
BOARDROOM! written by Lilly Ghalichi
Lingerie finds its sexy way into everything these days.
is one of the hottest fashion trends this season. Yes, I said lingerie! Not just for the privacy of the bedroom anymore, a leather and lace revolution has begun.
Lingerie inspired everyday-wear
Once upon a time, only courageous style icons such as Madonna and Cher showcased outfits inspired by their intimates to the World, however, today women of all types are confident and comfortable enough to sport their underwear as outerwear. Coming up in the oddest of places, delicate fabrics and dainty trims traditionally used exclusively for lingerie are now being incorporated by designers into everyday fashions. New for fall, Valentino Peep-Toe Lace Pumps are a price example. Utterly romantic, these high-heels are made entirely of silk-trimmed lace and adorned with a big lace bow at the toe. Moving away from harsh materials such as patent leather, shoe trends are moving towards more sensual and delicate materials such as lace and mesh.
Valentino Peep-Toe Lace Pumps
And, Valentino is one of many designers that have taken bedroom basics across the board, or should I say bridge. Lace-Printed Rubber Rain Boots are also new for this fall from Valentino. The versatility of lingerie inspired pieces is endless, and the new trend can be adapted into almost any style. Class and sophistication, however, is the key to riding the wave of boudoir themed outfits. Add hints of subtle femininity to your look rather than overloading the outfit. For example, a peek-a-boo lace effect from a suit-coat or sheer-thigh highs paired with a t-shirt are both effortless ways to put your best intimates forward. Women once burned their bras for liberation. Who would have guessed that 40 years later the allure behind those burning bras would turn up everywhere in fashion, and burning our pocketbooks instead? Fall into fallâ€™s latest fashion frenzy and lace up in lingerie inspired outerwear. Lilly Ghalichi, founder and designer of Femme Noir Swimgerie.
PURSUIT of the
PERFECT BROW written by Atessa Barazandeh
Men do it too! Grooming eyebrows has become quite com-
mon and popular among Persian men. Iranian police warn barbershops from offering western hairstyles and grooming the eyebrows of male customers. Shops who do not heed the warning are quickly shut down. Several males have described this ban fatal to their appearance! Now men must sneak into salons to get their eyebrows threaded. Why is this trend so important to the Persian men? So their eyebrows no longer connect degueh! One Persian male explains, “I do my eyebrows to look more human of course! And to capitalize on my main asset - my eyes.”
One of the great things that unite us as Persians is hair… hair… and more hair! Classical Persian poetry gives us detailed descriptions of beauty. “Long dark hair, long arched eyebrows, and large almond eyes.” In ancient Persian artwork, women and men both have perfectly shaped eyebrows. I knew grooming eyebrows for men is still popular when my uncle mentioned to me one day, “Tell the lady who does your eye-
brows to take from the bottom- never from the top!” I even found myself asking my uncle after I got my eyebrows done, “Do you like the shape?” His eyebrows look so good I catch myself staring at them sometimes. And funny enough—every doost-dokhtar he gets ends up having amazing eyebrows too! Yes, he takes his girlfriends along with him for a free eyebrow consultation. The salon where I get my eyebrows done could easily be mistaken for a Middle Eastern restaurant from the outside because you see a mix of men and women inside. I usually hear the Persian men say, “Please keep it thick! I want it to look natural!” Other cultures may view this as a faux pas, but it has become a necessity for Persian men to groom and maintain all that hair! Big muscles are a common trend for American men, the perfect tan for Italians, and tailored attire for the Frenchmen—so let the Persian men obsess over their abrue (eyebrows)!
LOOKING for OPPORTUNITY in all THE WRONG PLACES TAKING ANOTHER LOOK AT TECHNOLOGY written by Sagar Desai
On December 1st, 2008, the National Bureau of Economic Research declared that the US was in a recession and further solidified what many Americans had been feeling for months. Banks were failing, unemployment was rising and the general sentiment was negative. Almost 3 years have passed since those tumultuous times and the economy is still shaky and many still question if we can get back to the days of old.
Although it’s difficult to find the silver lining, there are many positive learning experiences that can be taken from this situation. We are at a unique time period in which people are realizing that the status quo is no longer sufficient. Everything is being reassessed from foreign policy to our education system and through this process we can strengthen the areas in which we have become complacent and reevaluate the areas that have been overlooked. Technology is an area that has been undeservedly given a bad rap. Many view it as a career choice just for pocket-protector-wearing “nerds” or “outsourced Indians” and “Eastern Europeans!” This in turn has become a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy and many people “without pocket protectors” have steered away from this industry due to the stereotypes or the fear of having their job shipped overseas. Consequently, many American firms are claiming that there is a lack of qualified workers to take on certain roles. These companies have been pushing for lighter regulation on employees that they acquire through the “H1-B” visa program, which allows companies to hire foreign workers for positions they cannot fill with local talent. So rather than shipping jobs overseas the companies are just bringing the employees here. Despite the expansion of the “H1-B” visa program, the industry is not suffering any shortage of available positions. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the unemployment rate for the overall American economy is around 9%. That is a scary number but it does not tell the full story. Upon further inspection of that number it can be seen that the unemployment rate for computer and math related fields is near 4% - 5% percent which is very close to what most economists agree to be the “natural” un-
employment rate, and there is no sign of decline. The BLS has forecasted that “Management, Scientific, and Technical Consulting” will continue to grow at a rate of 6% annually. If that holds true, there will be an even higher need for qualified applicants.
These trends present an extraordinary opportunity for anyone that would be interested in getting into a technical related field, even more so for women interested in a technical career. STEM (science, tech, engineering, and math) fields have a disproportionately low percentage of women workers and many companies are working hard to promote diversity in the workplace but are having difficulty because very few women graduate with a STEM degree. According to Whitehouse. gov, “…only 26 percent of women with STEM degrees work in STEM jobs. Women with STEM degrees are more likely to work in fields like education or healthcare.” The article went on to say, “… more women attend college than men. More women graduate from college than men. And more women attend post-college programs than men. As women have steadily caught up and surpassed men in several measures of educational attainment over the past several decades, their underrepresentation in STEM fields has nevertheless remained fairly constant.” This shortage will continue to hurt our workforce because, if our strongest students continue to choose non-STEM related fields, we will not have enough qualified people to be used locally and American companies will be forced to find employees from elsewhere. For some, the economic situation may look bleak but those with the appropriate mindset can take advantage of the bright spots that do exist. There are many opportunities available in the tech industry and more people should open themselves up to this rewarding field with unlimited growth potential. Sagar Desai has 7+ years of IT services and consulting experience. He has worked in many industries including Oil and Gas, Telecom, Consumer Products, and Utilities. He recently left a large firm and joined a startup that specializes in Enterprise applications and services.
MAYOR ANNISE PARKER
ZAN: Have you always been interested in politics and
You are a very visible and approachable Mayor, who has
public service? Becoming the Mayor of a major city,
a tendency to reach out to small sub-communities among
like Houston, is a huge undertaking! Where did the
minority groups, such as Iranian-Americans—we’ve seen
inner motivation and belief in yourself come from—to
you in action! What makes you interested in a wider range
know that you could break through the glass ceiling?
of sub-cultures within our mainstream community?
Mayor Annise Parker: Houston is America’s 4th largest city, there are 2.1 million Houstonians. Of American cities of a million in population and up, there have only ever been ten women, so I am proud to be one of those ten—two in Houston. I’ve been interested in politics since I was in college and I began to volunteer for candidates. But I never intended to run for office myself. That was not something that appealed to me; it was not something that I wanted to do. Now the public service aspect, my parents were active community volunteers and I was expected to be an active community volunteer. I started volunteering when I was in high school and continued that and so I came into running for office after 20 years of—getting out of college and having a job in the oil industry—but spending a lot of my free time volunteering in a range of organizations, culminating in being the president of one of the largest civic associations in Houston. And, you know, as a civic association president you work with the city all the time. Someone will need their trash picked up, you need a new stop sign some place, someone is not mowing their grass or the little neighborhood issues and that is what prompted me to finally, after supporting other candidates, to run for office myself because I got frustrated! Change wasn’t happening fast enough. It called out to me! And I became a council member, was term limited out of office, became city comptroller, was term limited out of office and ran for Mayor. I wouldn’t have been ready to run for mayor without those trips through council office and the comptroller’s office, particularly the comptroller’s office. Comptroller is really an 8 to 5 management job, unlike being mayor which is 7 days a week. But learning about municipal finances was particularly helpful in a very difficult economy. And I love my job, and I don’t know any big city Mayor that doesn’t love being a Mayor, you have to be in love with your city, you have to care very passionately about all the things that make up your city.
I truly believe that Houston’s great strength is its amazing diversity. We are one of the most diverse and international cities in the United States. And every language of business that is spoken in the world is spoken somewhere here in Houston and that’s helped fuel our economic vitality. We’ve always been a business and trader commerce city so partly it’s the recognition of where our roots are and partly it’s the practical politics of—in a very diverse city you have to work to make sure that the lines of communication are open, and that frictions and tensions don’t rise among the different sub-communities of the city. And I’m the best person who can bridge those gaps, and I enjoy interacting with our immigrant populations because, I was born here in Houston and my parents were born here in Houston so it’s an accident of birth. But with people who have chosen to come to this city, they have a very different perspective on what makes this city work and what’s important, and I find that it energizes me as well.
Having always been open about yourself and your personal life, what advice do you have for young individuals who feel different—whether it’s because their parents speak a different language or for any other reason— what advice do you have for them on overcoming obstacles and at times covert social barriers? That is a very hard question because I do get asked that a lot. Young people are dependent on their parents and I would never give anyone advice to defy their parents or to do things that are rash. Because there are parents, unfortunately, who become disappointed with their kids and cast them out and I’ve had friends that, that has happened to. My oldest child was thrown out by his parents and he is now 35, but he moved in with my partner and me when he was 16, and so, that is a phenomenon that is difficult to deal with. So, if kids are in that
situation where they truly can’t express their difference whether it’s about being gay, or they want to date somebody of another race, or they are being challenged by the strictures of the religion they were brought up in, that to be patient. That a young person’s job is to learn as much as they can, to build as many skills as they can for the life they are going to have later, and to be patient and to try to hold on to the core of themselves and be true to that. If they are lucky enough to have parents who can engage and support them, then I advise them on how to approach parents about these issues and how to talk about them. As an adult, as a public figure, I’ve been a community activist, I’ve been a role model for the gay community since I was in college and I was a public spokes-person, but I also worked on senior issues as a United Way volunteer, I’ve worked on neighborhood issues as a civic club president, and the most valuable coin you have is your integrity and even if there are people who don’t like certain aspects of my personal life, what I found is that they value my honesty, and that, there is a sense that if I’m honest about all these other things, that I am honest about everything and that’s been extremely helpful in politics. Even people who dislike me or disagree with me—trust me. It helps that I know, of course I am old enough now and it took me a lot of time to get here—and you know you don’t start out there—but I know who I am, I’m comfortable in my skin and I don’t have a chip on my shoulder about people who disagree with me now. Now, that’s not easy when you are 18 or 20 or 21 or 25.
been documented fairly well by one of our university professors here, Stephen Klineberg, at Rice University. We’re largely, I would say, a bi-racial southern city, large Anglo population and African-American population and smattering of folks from around the world, and a certain percentage of Hispanic population. Our Hispanic population is growing very very rapidly, and our international population is sky rocketing as well, particularly our Asian residents. That is changing the flavor of Houston. The non-Hispanic immigrants to Houston tend to be, they are more educated, they come with resources and they have the ability to grow and thrive here. A lot of the Latino or Hispanic immigrants are less educated in their home countries, a lot of the second generation, the kids—their parents are not literate in their own language—and it’s difficult educationally to help those kids catch up and get engaged so they can be productive in the future. So that is a huge challenge in the city that’s changing demographically, and that population continues to grow and that’s the biggest concern, I would think, in our education system, that students are constantly turning in and out of schools. They’re very transient, they move a lot, they have limited English skills when they come and they’re never stable enough to really get captured by the school system. Long term if we don’t solve that problem it is going to begin to have negative economic consequences for us. You will clearly be re-elected because of all that you have accomplished and because you are such a popular f igure with Houstonians.
And also I think it’s important, every child, every young person, has to have somebody in their life that loves them for who they are. Sometime it’s their parents and sometimes not, and to try to find mentors or other family members. Now, my parents loved me I didn’t have a question about that, but I had a maternal grandmother who is the most important person in my life and who absolutely adored me! And it wouldn’t have mattered what I had done—she was going to love me. But she also spent a tremendous amount of time with me, she taught me to read, she taught me to do math before I went to school, all the very close personal things. Every child deserve that, not every child has that, and I encourage young people—if they are not getting that support at home—to try to find an adult mentor who would help them through some of these things. How do you see Houston growing culturally and socially over the next 10 years?
I do have opponents but I am not concerned about re-election. I don’t take re-election for granted; I am campaigning where ever I need to! But we all know…. I hope! In closing, what would surprise people about Annise Parker? <Laughter>…You already know I love my city and I love the job and I am very out in public. Probably that I am a pretty extreme introvert. I’m naturally very shy, which is the hardest thing for me to overcome, for many years, since I was in college. And that my greatest pleasure is when I can go home at the end of the day and just—I’m a homebody! I am also a plant fancier and so I like to go home and either read or play with my plants! And I am not naturally social. I have had to learn how to do it!
Houston is undergoing a demographic transformation, that’s actually
A LACK OF PREPARATION COULD LAND YOU IN THE HOT SEAT! YOUR FIRST INTERVIEW WITH CORPORATE AMERICA written by BOBBY C. JACKSON
IN TODAYâ€™S COMPETITIVE JOB MARKET, finding a job can be a long and challenging process. Getting an interview, in itself, is a tremendous feat considering how many resumes a company will receive for any one open position. Job interviews can go as expected and be a positive experience, or they can go horribly wrong and leave you demoralized for days! In todayâ€™s competitive market, it is imperative to arrive at an interview fully prepared and to give your potential employer all the reasons to hire you, and none to overlook you. The job interview is one of the most stressful things in life and preparing for one requires a great deal of attention in order to increase the chances of a positive outcome. Many factors can impact your job interview, and some are beyond your control. You can, however, control how you prepare for an interview, how you present yourself in an interview, and the quality of your resume.
Preparing for Your Interview Your preparation is as important as your performance during the interview and can greatly impact the outcome before you even arrive at your interview. What exactly constitutes your pre-interview preparation? Pre-interview preparation is you taking the time to learn about the company, their products, their financial health, and their specific culture. How does a company’s culture impact your preparation? Understanding a company’s culture will allow you to refine your knowledge about the company, better prepare for your interview in terms of how to dress, and better prepare you to ask more insightful questions during the interview. Is the company more modern or conservative? Understanding the company from a macro level will help you as much as understanding the specific job you are interested in.
Choosing your outfit When you arrive at a job interview, your appearance makes the first impression without you saying your first word. How you dress is the visual brand your prospective employer sees the moment you arrive. If you are not sure about how to dress for an interview, err on the conservative side. The type of company and the position you want should dictate your attire. Usually a pant suit is perfectly fine. There are very few circumstances when wearing a dress to an interview is appropriate. If you wear a skirt, then consider wearing pantyhose. There has been a movement the last 20 years for companies to be more liberal, i.e., wearing pantyhose is no longer mandatory and neither is wearing suits and ties every day. If you are unsure about the company culture, then you may want to be more conservative. It is still considered more professional to wear pantyhose for an interview. Also, avoid wearing an outfit that reveals too much. Revealing too much skin can send the wrong message and make you appear unprofessional.
Shoes, Jewelry, and General Appearance Sandals or shoes that show all your toes should not be worn to an interview. Also shoes with extremely high heels may not be suitable for more conservative companies. You have the perfect outfit and you are feeling good about your look for the interview. The last thing to consider is what kind of jewelry you will wear. Jewelry should be a subtle enhancement to your outfit, not be a distraction. Avoid large hoop earrings or jewelry that sparkles too much. Avoid wearing a necklace that hangs down to your cleavage. Wearing a ring on every finger or wearing numerous bracelets may not be suitable for a more conservative company. Surprisingly, many people overlook the basics of good general appear-
ance for an interview. Is the polish on your fingernails peeling and chipped? Is your hair nice and neat or do you look like you jumped out of bed? Is your breath fresh? Did you smoke right before the start of the interview? Factors such as your outfit, how you smell, and grooming details can and often do influence the outcome of job interviews.
The Interview The moment has arrived and today is the day you interview with your prospective employer. Now what? First, it is best to arrive 15 minutes early and notify the interviewer that you are in the lobby. I suggest that you call whoever has been your contact at the company ahead of time and ask if there is any pre-employment paperwork that you will need to complete prior to starting your interview. The key is to complete you pre-employment paperwork without interrupting your scheduled interview time. If you arrive earlier than 15 minutes it might send the wrong message or make the interviewer feel obligated to see you earlier than planned. If you do arrive earlier than 15 minutes, then sit in your car, or a nearby coffee shop, and collect your thoughts. A common mistake many people make is to not bring copies of their resume with them. Do not assume your interviewer will have a copy of your resume, thus bring a resume for each interviewer on your schedule, plus five extra copies in case additional interviewers are added to your agenda. If you do not bring copies of your resume, you may be perceived as a person who is not attentive to details, as this can show a lack of preparation on your part. Additionally, another aspect to consider is the listing of your social media sites on your resume. As a general rule, only an email address should be listed on a resume; however, social media does play a major role in today’s job search and market. Listing your social media sites on your resume has the advantage of illustrating your upkeep with modern global advances in communication. The disadvantage could be that the material exposed on your social sites may be too personal to share. Also, the content on your social media sites may be potentially inflammatory, depending on your political, social, religious views, for example. Remember, you want to get hired based on your career experience, therefore, do consider taking the safer approach and avoid listing social media sites on your resume. You can always share that information with your colleagues after you start working with the company you wish to join. When you meet your interviewer, extend your hand and shake hands. Look the interviewer in the eyes and extend a thank you for the opportunity to discuss the position with them. If there are multiple chairs in the interview room and the interviewer does not direct you to a specific chair, ask what seat you should take. Let the interviewer set the pace for the interview and questions. Ask the interviewer if he/she has a copy of your resume. Carry copies of your resume in a portfolio or something similar. Also be sure to have a pen and paper in case you
want to take notes during the interview. Answer questions in a concise and full manner. This may seem basic, but make sure you know every piece of information on your resume and be prepared to expand on any aspect. There is nothing worse than struggling to answer a question about something on your resume. Additionally, the interview is a good place for you to ask questions. You are interviewing the company and your potential boss to see if you want to work there. Ask questions such as how long he/she has worked for the company and/or what is something they would change about the company. There are countless books at your local bookstore to get ideas about what types of questions to ask during your job interviews. Use good posture during the interview. Make sure you are not chewing gum or have a breath mint in your mouth while talking. Always keep in mind that you are trying to make a good impression in hopes of getting the job you are after. When the interview is over, shake the interviewerâ€™s hand and thank them for their time. Ask the interviewer for his/her card and send them a handwritten thank you note. In the modern age, as more people send electronic thank you cards and emails, a handwritten note says that you have made more of an effort to say thank you. Attention to detail is paramount if you want to be competitive in landing a job in todayâ€™s fast-paced global market. Preparation is essential and can be the difference between receiving a job offer and receiving a letter about your resume being kept on file! Your appearance, your arrival time, and the quality of your resume are all factors that can play a role in you getting the job of your dreams. Always remember that preparation and attention to detail are central elements of success. Bobby Jackson has 20+ years of experience in Corporate America and is currently the President of RedRidge Holdings. email: BobbyJackson@ZanMagazine.com
secrets of a
persian woman written by Dr. Ronit Farzam
hen we all enter this world as infants, we only have two rules to live by: survive and thrive. However, as we grow older, we are given countless direct Dos and Don’ts, in addition to many conscious and/or subconscious
messages, which we internalize as rules of life. Everyone wants to be acknowledged, loved, and praised; so we all work hard to receive positive regard from those around us. This is when the secret recipe of becoming a “good” Persian woman is handed down from generation to generation, not just by men in our society, but also by other “good” Persian women. Let’s read the secrets of some “good” and “not so good” Persian women:
Negin: I think my first vivid memory of receiving
subliminal messages from the environment to not assert myself comes from my fourth birthday. I remember how excited I was to open my presents after my birthday party, especially the large box that seemed to contain a huge toy. I chose to open that box first because of its size and the promise of days of fun and enjoyment it held. The toy inside the box was a big airplane, the kind that lights up, moves, and makes noises. I was ecstatic. After I begged for some batteries and attempted to turn the airplane on to finally play with the contents of the box I had stared at the entire party, I was shocked. The plane did not work. It must have been used or broken. The lady who had given me this huge disappointment seemed to be nice and approachable so I decided to share my feelings with her. The next time I saw the lady, I approached her and told her what I had kept in my heart for so long: “I love the airplane you gave me but it doesn’t work. Can you give me an airplane that works?” It was then and there that I realized I must have done a terrible thing. My whole family seemed shocked and embarrassed and I felt an uncomfortable repugnant feeling, which I now know as “shame.” The lady did not seem surprised, embarrassed, or upset. I had a feeling she did not even care; but guess who was
punished? Me. I do not remember the content of the lecture I received that night but I came to a few conclusions: “Other people’s feelings are more important than my feelings. From now on, I will be “nice” not “honest” because I might get in trouble for being myself.” Have you noticed that in our culture, authenticity can be labeled as bad manners? How many times have you said something that you did not really mean to save face or just to be polite? Do you feel the same pressure to sacrifice authenticity for manners with your nonPersian friends? A common definition of Authenticity in psychology refers to the attempt to live one’s life according to the needs of one’s inner being, rather than the demands of society or one’s early conditioning. Sanam: “I think I was seven years old when my mom
got sick. I was so worried and confused. I knew cancer was a bad thing but I didn’t know whether my mom was going to be ok or die. My brother and I were both sad and angry. My aunt who was taking care of us did her best but she did everything differently from our mom and we didn’t like it. I remember the day of my mom’s surgery as if it were yesterday. My brother and I wanted to be at the hospital and my aunt would not let us go. She believed that a hospital is not a place for
kids. We both yelled at her and threw our toys at the wall in protest. Somehow, my brother was forgiven for his behavior even though he was a year older than me. I remember how my joy of knowing my mom was ok was ruined by my father teaching me about “what girls are not supposed to do.” I remember coming to the conclusion: “it’s ok for boys to get angry but girls can only get sad and cry when something bad happens. Good girls don’t get angry, yell, and throw things.” Did you experience double standards for boys and girls as you were growing up? Are you aware of the double standards that still exist for men and women in our society? Have you somehow learned to accept these double standards as part of our way of doing things? I remember the strong reaction of an old American professor of mine who was invited to dinner at a Persian home here in Los Angeles and was shocked to see that after dinner was served, all men went to the other room to discuss work, politics, and other subjects and wait for their tea while it was the women who started to gather the plates, clean the table, and prepare the tea. My professor reported feeling there was a silent agreement and understanding there that he could not begin to understand or question. Of course, men are not the only ones to blame for some of the inequalities we still see in our culture. I believe as Persian-American women, we need to become more aware of our own underlying beliefs about our value as women in our society and catch ourselves when we undermine our own self-esteem by maintaining or supporting some of the double standards that exist in our society. Selfesteem is a term used in psychology to reflect a person’s overall evaluation or appraisal of his or her own worth. Tara: “My grandma is judgmental, rude, and intrusive. She feels she has the right to tell everyone what she thinks. When I was a teenager, she told me I had lost my childhood charm and beauty and I lacked manners because I did not get up to greet her when she walked in. Before I got married, every time she saw me, she asked when I was going to get married and tell me that I’m bringing shame to the family by changing boyfriends. She also made hurtful comments and gave unsolicited advice to most people she encountered, especially young girls. I felt there was a conspiracy in our family. No one really liked my grandma and yet, no one stood up to her. Everyone resented her comments and no one questioned her. I felt she was a big bully that everyone respected because of her size, in her case, age. When I confronted her once by responding to her “it’s
none of your business,” I was shunned for disrespecting an elderly. Shouldn’t respect be earned, at any age?” Have you noticed how setting boundaries and assertiveness are somehow tied in our culture to selfishness and bad manners? I have observed that as Persian-American women, we are encouraged to avoid conflict at all cost. Many of our mothers and grandmothers are the products of this school of thought, which encourages women to be passive and selfless. Sacrificing oneself and taking responsibility for other people’s thoughts, feelings, and actions are classical patterns of behavior, which are still observed even in women of younger generations. Assertive communication consists of sharing wants and needs honestly in a safe manner. This presumes respect for the boundaries of oneself and others. These boundaries include the physical self, possessions, and relationships.
Have you noticed that in our culture, authenticity can be labeled as bad manners?
Some examples of boundary invasions are:
1. Taking responsibility for another person’s
feelings. Not knowing how to separate your feelings from other people’s feelings and allowing their moods to dictate your level of happiness, sadness, etc.
2. Sacrificing your plans, dreams, and
goals in order to please others.
3. Not taking responsibility for yourself
and blaming others for your problems.
4. Telling others what to think, feel, behave, etc. Now that we know some of the secrets of a “Good” Persian woman, I think it’s time to change the recipe a little and take out some of the old ingredients that are not so healthy or tasty anymore and add some ingredients which will make us all stronger and happier in the long run. Let’s commit to raising our awareness with respect to our own level of authenticity, self-esteem, and assertiveness. Dr. Ronit Farzam is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist. For more info: www.DrRonitFarzam.com.
HOURS in CARTAGENA! written by Sarrah Zadeh
coast of Colombia, enchants its visitors with its old world charm. The city’s
center, Ciudad Amurallada (walled city) or sim-
ply Centro, is located within a glorious fort. It is within these walls that you find yourself transported back in time to a period of horse drawn carriages and grandiose Spanish villas. Walking its cobblestone streets outlined by enormous colorful houses and breathtaking cathedrals, you find yourself amongst street vendors selling anything from fruits to salt. Horse carriages with their coachmen give one of a kind tours to guests, while university students croqueting under the
Staying hydrated is super important and luckily almost every eatery offers fresh juices. However, if you have room after breakfast and want something refreshing make a quick stop at Crepes Y Waffles for an ice cream cone to go, the arequipe ( better known as dolce de leche) or the yogurt de maracuya (passion fruit yogurt) are a must. An interesting fact: Crepes Y Waffles one of Colombia’s most successful chain eateries was created not only by a woman but also hires only women. Another plaza you must see is Torre del Reloj (tower of the watch), which is the representing symbol of Cartagena and the main entrance to the city. In front of the tower there is a sculpture of Pedro de Heredia, the founder of Cartagena. One the best things about this square is the array of dulcerias being sold with all their amazing shapes, colors, and smells; where people of all ages gather around to chat and hangout. From here it is easy to find yourself in Plaza de Santa Domingo, one of the busiest and most touristic squares with overpriced food. Plaza de Santa Domingo is an essential part of Centro, housing the Santa Domingo Cathedral and the beautiful Botero sculpture. At night this square is filled with tables of tourists being serenaded by street musicians.
palm trees wait for class to start, and street acts mesmerize audiences with tricks and costumes.
72 hours in one of the most magical cities where time stops and life slows down…. Day One: Breakfast at Loncheria Bolivar, a small hole-in-the-wall ran by Bolivar and his sweet smiled women, where sharing tables with other hungry guests is a common occurrence. This place has one of the best fresh natural juices; make sure to try some of the more exotic ones such as Maracuya (Passion Fruit), Lulo, Zapote (mamey), or Tamarindo (tamarind). Order an Arepa de Huevo, a very typical costaño (from the coast) breakfast dish. It is basically an empanada stuffed with ground beef, eggs, cheese and deep fried. Also order a side of Yuca Fritas con Queso and ask for Suero (a sour cream type of sauce but a bit more watery). . After breakfast you must walk the Old City, and get lost amidst its narrow streets. First stop: Plaza Bolivar. On any given day, walking through this square, you can find locals cooling off under the palm trees, and the famous Palenqueras (Cartagena women dressed in colorful Caribbean customs) selling fresh fruits or homemade dulces (sweets). These treats are usually mixed with coconut and something else such as raisins, panela (sugar cane), condense milk or canela (cinnamon), all delicious and SWEET! In the evening Plaza Bolivar is filled with older men playing chess in the park, lost in their thoughts.
Walking centro is an all-day expedition and you will workup an appetite. Next to the amazing Santa Clara Sofitel Hotel in Plaza de San Diego is a very quaint ceviche spot called la Cevicheria. You cannot go wrong ordering anything from the menu and their special homemade Mojitos are hard to beat. A dessert to try is Mojada con Queso, which is a very typical costaño chees over hot panela. After lunch take time to walk around Sand Diego, which in the evenings is swarming with tourists and locals alike enjoying the multitude of restaurants and handmade crafts being
T R AVEL
artagena, situated in the Caribbean
displayed in the Plaza. From here you can take a short five minute taxi ride to el Castillo San Felipe de Barajas (the Castel of San Philip Barajas) located outside of the Walled City and a great destination for history lovers (tickets are $7.00USD/person). In the evening if you want to have a drink or two prior to dinner, the bar in Hotel Santa Clara is a great place to unwind and listen to chill lounge music. Thursdays to Saturdays they have different live bands and the recommended drink is a Gin Lychee Martini (a little on the dry side). For Dinner make reservations at San Pedro restaurant and if the weather is nice ask for an outside table. The restaurant is located in front of the colossal Sand Pedro de Claver church, lit beautifully at night, which adds to the picturesque surrounding. One dish to try is the Salmon Raviolis, it is so amazing that you will lick your plate clean. If you still have energy after dinner walk over to Plaza de la Aduana where you will see dozens of yellow chairs and tables filled with crowds drinking, smoking, and people watching; this is the famous Donde Fidel Bar. Grab a table, order a bottle of Aguardiente (a Colombian drink made of anise-flavored liqueur derived from sugarcane of Anise), and enjoy the scene.
Day Two: A rest from the busy day one, pack a beach bag and head to Boca Grande (big mouth), the new part of the city (outside of the wall) along the coast line filled with high-rise apartments and hotels. The beach in Boca Grande, packed on the weekends, is a very unique experience. Apart from the regular beach vendors selling things from food and drinks to souvenirs, there are also the palenqueras walking along the beach offering fresh fruit saladâ€”which they carry on their oversized head piece. Make sure to order one with Leche Condensada (condense milk). For lunch, a place to visit is Kiosko de Bonnie (Bonnieâ€™s kiosk), located on the beach and the best place for Fried fish and local food. Oder a Pescado Frito (fried fish) which comes with Arroz
con Coco (coconut rice), Patacones (fried plantiains) and a side of salad or french fries. After lunch enjoy the rest of your afternoon under the Cartagena sun. Cartagena’s sunsets should not be missed and a great place to enjoy this sight is in the Old City at Café del Mar, an outdoor lounge bar on top of the wall, a perfect place to relax after a beach day and have a drink before dinner. La Vitrola is a fantastic place for dinner, however, reservations are required (couple of days in advance is recommended), being one of the oldest and most famous restaurants in Cartagena with live Cuban Salsa music on most nights.
Day Three: Cartagena is also known for the nearby islands, Las Islas de Rosario (the Rosario Islands) and getting to them is extremely easy. You can catch a boat from the port almost every hour until about five o’clock in the evening, but, for a day trip a boat before 9:30 AM is recommended. A great island to visit is Barú with its white sand and beautiful turquoise water. A ticket is around $60.00USD/person and the ride is about a 30 minutes. The boat will drop you on the Island and pick you up around 4:30, but make sure to listen because every boat’s
pickup time is a bit different. Once on Baru you can spend the day relaxing on the beach or discovering the island. Another option is to do a tour of a group of the Islas de Rosario. Although you spend a very short time on each one, it is a fun way to see most of the islands. If you decide to take the tour lunch is usually provided for you by the boat company, so make sure to ask when purchasing the tickets. A delicious place for dinner in Cartagena is a restaurant called Don Juan (reservations are a must). Besides its wonderful Caribbean fusion cuisines, Don Juan also possesses a superb wine list. After the scrumptious food take a cab to La Havana, a small and renowned bar/disco just outside of downtown (opened Wednesday to Saturday and gets busy after 11:30). As you enter you are taken back to the old Cuba with blaring salsa music and people dancing in every corner of the small bar. Order a drink, grab a partner, and dance your last hours in Cartagena de Indias.
Davar Ardalan PRO D U CER
ZAN: Tell us about your role at NPR as senior producer? DAVAR ARDALAN: I am currently the Senior Producer of NPR’s Tell Me More with Michel Martin where I oversee the production of the daily talk program and make sure that it is timely and topical and reflects the interests of a diverse audience. I also conduct daily editorial meetings and supervise content and production of all sound files, scripts and live feeds and make certain that all material aired meets NPR standards and practice. It is exciting to be part of the Tell Me More staff as one of my greatest passions as a journalist is to help expand diversity both in the newsroom and on the air and to help train the next generation of public media journalists.
Why the decision to go into journalism? As a young girl, I was curious about the who, what, when, where and why of everything! My parents were gifted in the written word and from them I inherited a desire for expression and from that came storytelling and finally the craft of radio journalism. In 1991, I was attending the University of New Mexico Journalism School when I decided to apply for a job at KUNM-FM, the local public radio station. Within the span of two years, I produced dozens of cultural and local news stories including several on health and environmental concerns in Los Alamos for which I won first place in documentaries from the Associated Press in New Mexico. I also interned at both ABC affiliate KOAT-TV and PBS affiliate KNME-TV. I also worked for the University of New Mexico, producing educational videos to help train teachers of Native American students in integrating art into
reading and writing curriculum. In 1993, I landed at NPR News in Washington D.C., where I worked as a production assistant on all NPR’s newsmagazines and by 2008 I was in charge of Weekend Edition Sunday and later Weekend Edition Saturday, two of NPR’s most popular news magazines. Public radio has been a labor of love for me.
Tell us about some of the challenges of growing up in a bi-cultural household. How do your own children’s experiences parallel or differ from yours? I was born in San Francisco and raised in Tehran, Iran. A product of east and west, my heart and mind have wandered in both directions. Leaning toward my eastern side, my principle belief became fate or kismet; when leaning on my western side, I became a believer in free-will “where there is a will, there is a way.” These two contrasting principles have guided me not only as a woman but also as a mother. In our home, we have always celebrated our Persian heritage but I have also taught my four children to be enterprising and innovative in their approach to life and not confined to conventional thinking. I continue to guide them but I want them to understand the meaning of life through their own failures and successes. As someone who lived through a revolution, I want to help my children be resilient and adapt to change and thrive in the process. My oldest is now 27 years old and my youngest is 12. I try to tackle each challenge in our lives with as much patience as possible so that the children feel loved, safe and confident. Finally, I have asked that they strive for wealth of spirit and soul rather than material wealth. When my maternal great grandfather
left this world, he had nothing more in his possession than a bowl and a cloak but more than any other treasure, my grandfather recalls, “he had character” and that was handed to him by his parents. We can only hope that we raise our children with a moral character that embodies values from our Iranian and American homelands including love of God, family, education, history and the desire for self-discovery.
persistence and hard work you can transfer those skills and report on a national and international level but you have to pay your dues and work your way up. Put your head down, do the hard work, network and navigate your way up and don’t expect to be rewarded at every step.
Can you tell us about the challenges of being a working mom, and of combining households? How and when do you f ind some “me” time? I often think of Simin Behbahani’s 1983 poem called “Homage to Being” she says, “ages of dark have crushed your body, warping it inwards, do not remain a mere trace on a rock, rise up and sing. O Gypsy, to stay alive you must slay silence! I mean, to pay homage to being, you must sing.” Life can be very demanding and tough and my guilty pleasure is going on an occasional shopping spree (remember I work in public broadcasting so shopping spree is a relative term). But the truth is for the most part, as a mother, you must be selfless and sacrificing so that your children can have opportunities to challenge their minds, climb mountains, reach for the stars—and to rise and sing! Iran Davar Ardalan, February 2003 in Long Island, NY with NPR’s Jacki Lyden, working on a story about girls and gangs.
Quite frankly, media today tends at times to be a business of entertainment rather than the reporting of
You have reported on women’s struggles in
news, how do you bridge that gap in your career?
Iran, how challenging is it to remain objective,
I am fortunate to be working in public broadcasting where we are committed to covering in-depth stories from politics to pop culture.
safe, and still report the truth? One of the most extraordinary stories in the three decades of the Islamic Republic has been the strength and character of its women’s movement whether in politics, film, literature, religion, poetry or sports. My colleague Jacki Lyden and I have reported a great deal on the topic of Iranian women whose voices have at times been like roars, and at other times, like whispers of dissent. It has not been difficult covering this story because women continue to make headlines as agents of change or victims of persecution. In the course of covering women’s issues we have interviewed young and old, secular intellectuals as well as conservative Muslim women. In this way, I believe our stories have reflected the views of a range of Iranian women and not just those opposing the status quo.
What is the one key advice you have for young IranianAmerican female journalists who are working their way up the ladder in their respective careers? There are media opportunities are out there especially if you are willing to start in small markets and work your way up. The key is to do as many internships as you can and attend as many networking events as possible. Remember, if you have a strong foundation in local news with
How did you and your husband meet? How is the experience of f inding love at this stage in your life? My husband John Oliver Smith is an Environmental Engineer, born in Lima, Ohio, who has worked on many large international environmental projects throughout the world. We met on match.com in April 2003 and within the year joined our families together. Together we have eight children, seven boys and one girl. Knowing ours would be a challenging journey, our success focused not on our differences but our similarities. Over time we became best friends and supported each other in our search for self-discovery. What is special about our relationship is that our love for each other is unconditional. We have both seen failure, and it has changed us. Failure can be humbling but in our case it has also been a great teacher and given us the ability to see what really matters. John has taught me that real peace comes from the inside and that happiness is a choice. We were married on May 15th at the Thomas Point Shoal Lighthouse on the Chesapeake Bay, the last unaltered lighthouse on its original
Did you know? ªª Though wood engravers produced prints with religious themes in the European Middle Ages, the first commercial Christmas and New Year’s card was designed in London, England in 1843. ªª John Callcott Horsley (1817 – 1903), a British narrative painter and a Royal Academician, designed the first Christmas and New Year’s card at the suggestion and request of his friend Sir Henry Cole, who was the first director of the Victoria and Albert Museum. Horsley designed the first Christmas card in 1840, but it went on sale only in 1843, when one thousand cards were offered for 1s each. ªª The card was not received without controversy, for it showed a family raising their glasses to toast Christmas. Puritans immediately denounced it. The idea was a hit with others. Christmas cards became very popular, and other artists quickly followed Horsley’s concept. ªª The first Christmas card’s inscription read: “merry Christmas and a happy New Year to you.” Merry was then a spiritual word meaning blessed, as in “merry old England.” Of the original one thousand cards printed for Henry Cole, twelve exist today in private collections. ªª Printed cards soon became the rage in England; then in Germany. But it required an additional thirty years for them to take root in the US. In 1875, Boston lithographer Louis Prang, a native of Germany, began publishing cards, and earned the title “father of the American Christmas card.” ªª Today, within the United States more than two billion Christmas cards are exchanged annually. Christmas is the number one card-selling holiday of the year.
Wedding Photo May 14, 2011 on the Chesapeake Bay near Annapolis, MD. Front Row (L to R) Amir Ardalan, Aman Ardalan, John Oliver Smith, Iran Davar Ardalan, Zachary Smith, Samira Ghaffari. Second Row (L to R) Reverand Jesus Rivera, Daniel Smith, Saied Ghaffari, Joseph Smith, Michael Smith.
foundation in the United States. We chose this location as a symbol of the light of home that we wish to give our children in the stormy seas of life. I feel fortunate at 47-yearsold to be in love with my best friend. Unconditional love can have a calming effect on a woman who has spent most of her life striving to reach the top. Love has offered me a new perspective on life—to cherish the present in which we live and to realize that it is in the present that we make our own destiny and shape the destiny of our children.
What’s next for you in your career? Creating engaging interactive content became an early trademark of mine at NPR’s Weekend Edition. In the next few years, I have my eyes and ears set on mobile. That’s because the public on mobile is vibrant, active, spirited, responsive and increasingly multicultural. I’d like to be part of a team that is producing rich multicultural news and entertainment content for mobile. We are entering a new media paradigm and we must collaborate in creating the next mobile news landscape.
H E A LT H
The Skin Care Pocket Book written by Layla Fayyad
In earlier days, skin care products
were selected by features and benefits that were blasted from ads and labels, using words such as “softens,” “moisturizes,” “smells wonderful” or “provides instant anti-aging remedies.” Individuals were more concerned about how products felt and smelled than what they could actually do for their skin. Now the ingredients in home care and professional products can determine whether an item is appropriate for use in targeted professional treatments and in home skin care protocols. Serious, results-oriented estheticians need to know each ingredient in the lines they offer, as well as what they do, when each is appropriate or inappropriate for a client, and how to use and recommend them. The following ingredients are critical to any anti-aging treatment plan and home care recommendation.
Antioxidants Antioxidants are molecules that can safely terminate the oxidation chain reaction before cells are badly damaged. They neutralize free radicals turned loose by the sun’s UVA rays by donating one of their electrons to each, transforming them into non damaging molecules. This activity is usually known as free radical scavenging by skin care professionals. Antioxidants help prevent tissue damage that could potentially lead to aging and disease. They are important for repairing photo damage and providing protection, but do not block UVB rays and, in and of themselves, don’t repair wrinkles. Ample amounts of antioxidants must be formulated into anti-aging products or the aging process will always outpace the corrective treatments. They are prevention-oriented, as well as treatment-oriented ingredients. Current literature is replete with news about the “best” antioxidants. It seems that every month a new hot, important, best, most
effective antioxidant is discovered. However, the best is actually not one single antioxidant, but rather products that contain a group of them, such as pomegranate, coffee berry, lycopene, grape extracts, idebenone and others. These have withstood both the test of time, as well as scrutiny by reputable medical journals and independent university research studies. Currently, the most important vitamin antioxidants in treatments are vitamins A, C, E and beta-carotene. Vitamin A. Otherwise known as retinoids, vitamin A is a fat-
soluble vitamin that is not present in the body. It is important not only to general health systems, but also for the skin, due to its role in the normal differentiation and proliferation of cells. Therefore, it must be added to the human diet for systemic health through the ingestion of fish liver oils, egg yolk, milk, liver and various vegetables. Also, vitamin A should be applied topically in order to perform its essential purposes. The sun depletes the skin of vitamin A, and this is one of the reasons those who expose their skin often to the sun age faster than those who do not. Every good skin care system has a vitamin A product due to its significance in preventing and healing sun damage. Vitamin A is the single most important ingredient to prevent, restore, normalize and help repair damaged skin. This should not be news to any in the skin care profession, because the efficacious effects of vitamin A are well known. The formulation of vitamin A in a line, as well as the form of the base ingredient, is very important to the stability of the product. New technology has allowed vitamin A to meet its potential for performance in topical products in the forms of retinyl palmitate, retinyl acetate and retinol, along with the more traditional prescription form, retinoic acid.
Recommending Vitamin A. Because the body does not manufacture vitamin A, skin becomes deficient through time. For that reason, it is a very important and necessary ingredient in all quality anti-aging product lines. However, it may cause redness and irritation if applied in doses higher than cell receptors can tolerate. If you recommend a higher dose than the client can tolerate initially, a mild irritation may occur for a few days. To counter this, start low and go slow, fully informing your client of the risks and rewards. Arming your client with information helps allay concerns.
The dosage is initially low, and it should be applied three or four times a week. This may be the only dosage suited to the client’s needs. If the skin indicates the need for a higher dosage, the applications per week should be increased as cellular receptors are developed in the skin until it is applied twice daily. If a higher strength is still indicated, the next product strength should be recommended. Some clients will respond with minor irritation and redness at the beginning of each step up. Generally, the “start low and go slow” method allows skin to adjust and enjoy the new infusion of vitamin A in its cells with little irritation and absent negative response. It supports obvious positive changes. Vitamin E. Although vitamin E is a highly effective oil-soluble antioxidant that protects collagen from destruction by UV rays, it is extremely sensitive to damage and inactivation when exposed to free radicals. One of the important roles of its sister, vitamin C, is to reactivate it to its original form, enabling it to work against free radicals. Vitamins C and E are intertwined in their activity and are important teammates in protecting and treating the skin from sun damage. Vitamin C. This water-soluble vitamin antioxidant, aside from its role
in reactivating vitamin E, is important for protecting the lipid structures of cells, preventing the oxidation of vitamin A, and as an effective tyrosinase inhibitor, preventing hyper pigmentation by slowing down the production of melanin. Vitamin C is a normal component in the skin, but is utilized first for other bodily functions and is not produced by the body, so the skin is vulnerable to deficiency. It must be included in diet, in supplement, and in topical products for the skin. There are several forms of vitamin C, including L-ascorbic acid, which has the appearance of water. To be its best, it should be mixed just before it is used because it loses some of its effectiveness as it oxidizes, and turns amber or orange. A newer, effective form of vitamin C is ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate, a fat-soluble, stable and more penetrating form. Recommending Vitamin C. Vitamin C is one of the most valuable ingredients in professional prevention and rejuvenation care, but its successful delivery into the skin has spurred on constant research. The problem: The long-proven most effective form—ascorbic acid— quickly degenerates with exposure to air and light. Research has come far in defining the formulation of stable vitamin C delivery. In professional care, however, the use of ascorbic acid often is recommended for maximum delivery of fresh, highly potent vitamin C.
To do so, a mix-before-use product is preferred. A series of vitamin C treatments provide the best results when coupled with at-home product use of a fat-soluble form, such as ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate. Other important antioxidants. Other important antioxidants
in formulations are beta-carotene—a precursor to vitamin A—selenium, superoxide dysmutase and alpha lipoic acid (thiotic acid), all proven soldiers in the fight against aging. These ingredients are important, and their roles and benefits warrant study by skin care providers.
Exfoliants Exfoliants are believed by many to be a necessary component to maintain skin’s health. However, it is important to remember that the horny layer of the skin must be thick and compact because it provides important protection against the environment and best exfoliates naturally. On the other hand, belated exfoliation creates hyperkeratosis conditions, prevents ingredient penetration and results in dull skin with poor texture and an aged appearance. The best policy is a compromise by using mild resurfacing to create a natural, healthy exfoliation that removes only excess cells while balancing the health of the skin with topical and professional regimens. Glycolic vs. Lactic Acid. Lately, there’s a new sheriff in Hy-
droxyville. Many experts, including the authors, are taking a second look at the use of glycolic acid for exfoliating peels. More and more skin care experts are advocating the use of lactic acid instead. When administered properly, lactic acid peels are gentle, but highly effective. A comparison of glycolic and lactic acids will tell the story: Glycolic acid has smaller molecules than lactic acid. A good thing? Not really. Because of this small molecular size, glycolic acid penetrates more quickly than lactic acid, making it more difficult to control. Lactic acid lays on the skin’s surface for a longer period of time, allowing it to work more extensively on the epidermis, which allows the skin’s responses to be gentler. A slower response allows more effective neutralization, producing less damage. The skin is a natural protection against environmental damage and it is crucial to be extremely careful about how it is exfoliated—less is more. Lactic acid’s longer activity on the epidermis allows for enhanced softening of the surface skin and less damage to the dermis. It can be used on a wider range of Fitzpatrick Skin Types, with lower incidences of stinging and hyper pigmentation. The overall results of treatment series by lactic and glycolic acid are similar. For that reason, lactic acid should be considered for use during resurfacing treatments.
Growth Factors Peptides Peptides are one of the newest ingredient groups to hit the antiaging skin care scene and are stimulating many studies that have shown significant results. They are highly respected for their ability to penetrate the skin and activate their target, increasing the production of collagen and elastin. Although long-chain proteins cannot penetrate the epidermis due to molecular size, peptides can. They are proteins that are synthesized to their most useable form in order to affect the dermal layer. Peptides are molecules that have been built up from smaller protein molecules—amino acids—by binding one amino acid to another, forming a short, penetrable chain. In this form, they are highly efficient in stimulating the healing process and triggering the rebuilding of the dermal matrix. They turn on the fibroblasts responsible for these activities, acting as keys to the biochemical pathways. This starts the chain reaction for building and repairing the dermis—the basic requirements for anti-aging success. Recommending Peptides. Ideal skin is healthy and strong, and its dermal matrix quickly responds to treatment and healing. Peptides support these activities by stimulating the matrix materials, and following is the ideal recommendation for pre- and post-series and -surgical care.
For ideal pre-care, the regimen should be started a minimum of four to six weeks before the treatment or start of the series. During a series, peptides support the goals of the treatments. After the series, treatment or surgical care, it is best to continue peptides indefinitely in order to support a healthy matrix. But peptides are not only for dermal support. More and more purposes are being defined, with many new ones being synthesized as you are reading this. The good thing is that most are supported by clinical studies, and their uses take esthetic-level care out of the realm of wishing and into actuality. The importance of peptides is right up there with vitamins A, C and E.
Growth factors are proven to enhance epidermal growth and keratinization; they directly stimulate the proliferation of epidermal cells through a response by receptors on the cell membrane. This initiates activities that eventually progress to cell division and proliferation. The problem for women is that epidermal growth factors (EGF) are androgen-dependent, and the low level of androgen in females results in a lack of EGF, potentially allowing skin to age more quickly. Concurrently, EGF acts as a super-antioxidant, and also resolves inflammation, making it an important tool in the esthetician’s toolbox of product ingredients.
Results-oriented Rejuvenation These ingredients are the must-haves in a results-oriented anti-aging product line, and are the tried and true basics to successful rejuvenation. Those who choose product lines must take care to not be swayed by the hottest, newest ingredients that hit the market and leave these behind. Watch them, look for studies and proof, then try them. You can look back at those that were popular last year or the year before, noting that they are off the hot list now. Instead, know that reliability is the key, scientific studies are of utmost importance, and formulation and packaging are the answers. The anti-aging attack is focused on a team of reliable and stable formulations of established and trusted ingredients in a well-designed treatment plan. Those mentioned are synergistic components in the battle, and their effectiveness has a long history of study and proof on which to rely. Layla Fayyad is a popular aesthetician and accredited skin care specialist with over twenty years of experience. For more info: www.VisageDeLayla.com
A natural problem with peptides is that, although their results are obvious, they are accumulative in treatment and take time, which poses a problem for the client who wants instant gratification. It is important to fully educate this client, and to take before pictures, as well as follow-up pictures at the 90-day mark and later.
a new world written by Natasha Ubaldo
My name is Natasha Ubaldo and I am 15 years old. A sophomore in high school at Duchesne Academy. I have been
writing since I was about 9 years old, and it’s something I love to do because I can express myself and just be who I am. Writing is something that just comes naturally to me. It’s almost effortless. My other hobbies are volleyball, basketball, working out and staying in shape and just hanging out with my family and friends. I am just a girl with a fun personality, who has an amazing family, and amazing friends, and just a person who loves to express herself through writing and poetry……….
If life were a movie, I’d make it just right, I’d make a world where everyone slept good at night. No more racism, violence, no more poverty, a place where we could all live happily. I’d make a place filled with lots of peace and love, a place where everyone was equal, no one person above. Because life is something to cherish, not something to be squandered away, we all have to be thankful each and every day. If life were a movie, I’d make it a fairytale, where women were looked at no different than a male. There would be no need to provide by selling drugs or robbing stores, a place of opportunity and open doors. The world would just be a perfect place, no matter what religion, what gender, what race. There would be no more alarms and locks, just a worry free mind, just a place with caring people is what you would find. But life isn’t a movie, so people will do as they do, but if life were a movie, it would be a life that’s brand new.
a designed space written by Baharak Azkia
Interior design is concerned with more
than just the visual or ambient enhancement of a space. Designers use creative and technical solutions within a structured setting in order to optimize and harmonize the uses to which a room can be put. Good interior design maximizes the function of a space while enhancing the quality of life. Many factors influence a designerâ€™s vision. The space itself presents endless potentials and limitations based on dimensions and constructions that must be addressed within the design itself. Good designers will also take into consideration the meaning of the space. What it signifies and what one wants it to convey: power, authority, security, wisdom, achievement, playfulness or serenity.
There are practical considerations that must also be addressed such as ease of access, the amount of light, the acoustics, the seating and the number of places to store or set things down. Designers must weigh health and safety concerns and pay attention to any special needs as well. A most important subject in interior design is the color or Hue. Color is still quite subjective and varies by project and client, and using color â€˜meaningfullyâ€™ in design is a far better approach than simply using what is trendy at the time. For more info: www.BaharakDesign.com
Taravat Talepasand, courtesy Marx & Zavattero, San Francisco. Andarooni, Birooni, Lies And Man (Insider, Outsider, Lies And Man) 2011 Egg Tempera On Linen 32 X 26 Inches
Taravat Talepasand, born in 1979 in the United States, retained close family and artistic ties to Iran where she was trained in the challenging discipline of Persian miniature painting. Paying close attention to the cultural taboos identified by distinctly different social groups, particularly those of gender, race, and socioeconomic position, her work reflects the cross-pollination, or lack thereof, in our “modern” society. Talepasand’s works on paper and egg tempera paintings draw on realism to bring a focus on an acceptable beauty and its relationship with art history under the guise of traditional Persian painting. Her interest, however, is in painting a present which is of, and intrinsically linked to, the past. “ Since I, myself, am considered a taboo in that I am a conglomerate of equal, yet irreconcilable cultural forces, my work challenges plebeian notions of acceptable behavior,” says Talepasand. Taravat received her BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2001 and MFA and the San Francisco Art Institute in 2006. Taravat stays in close contact with her family in Esfehan, Iran, and she last visited Iran in 2007. The recipient of the 2010 Diebenkorn Fellowship, Talepasand has exhibited in solo and group shows in United States and Europe, including, but not limited to, the 2010 California Biennial, Yerba Buena Center of the Arts, Marx & Zavattero, San Francisco, CA; Steven Zevitas Gallery, Boston, MA; Charlie James, Los Angeles, CA. Her work is also in the permanent collection of the de Young Museum in San Francisco and the Orange County Museum of Art. Additinally, Talepasand is a featured artist in Different Sames: New Perspectives in Contemporary Iranian Art, edited by Hossein Amirsadeghi. For more information visit www.taravattalepasand.com
Taravat Talepasand A R T IS T
Native Influences 2008 Egg tempera on panel 22 x 17 inches
Taravat Talepasand, courtesy Marx & Zavattero, San Francisco.
The Story of Shirin and Farhad 2006 Egg tempera and gold leaf on panel 22 x 17 inches Taravat Talepasand, courtesy Marx & Zavattero, San Francisco.
Happiness Unplugged written by DR. Baharak Sedigh
appiness is a difficult subject to tackle. Its concept surpasses geography, culture, and transcends even the human race. After all, a flower leaning towards the sun is pursuing happiness in its own way—is it not? The pur-
suit of happiness is part of our collective laws, its essence in the fabric of what we seek as beings, and its experience at the core of what most of us desire internally. Overall, we, the human race, have done well for ourselves! We have made leaps and bounds in technology, medicine, nutrition, and wellness lifestyles. We are more educated, do more, see more, and have longer and healthier lives than those who came before us. But what is this happiness we are vehemently pursuing? After all, it is seemingly easy to sense that we are not getting all that much happier—individually, collectively, or globally. Over time, as a society we have created a vision of happiness with overt and covert road maps on how to get to this place of bliss and contentment. Wealth, the attainment of career goals, having ideal kids, having the perfect smile, and the designer clothes. Movies, commercials, and everyday conversations often emphasize that the possession of these things will bring happiness. But, does a constant place of happiness even exist? It is not to say that certain comforts in life and the attainment of certain goals are not important for selffulfillment. Financial stability, the achievement of goals, and even the possession of certain goods and luxuries all bring their own kind of pleasure, but in-and-of themselves they cannot render meaning to life or bring emotional balance. Ultimately, happiness must be a sense of well-being that comes from a place of existential knowledge; and our meaning must come from the experiencing of each moment in our own lives. Philosophical discourse about happiness and the meaning of life dates back to early Greek philosophers when Aristotle took up the question approximately 2500 years ago. In Book I of the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle introduces the “good” for human life as that for the sake of which human pursuits are aimed, namely eudaimonia, translated as “well-being and flourishing.” Aristotle believed that:
“Happiness itself cannot be acquired
through sheer good fortune. Though fortune may give us some of the prerequisites and useful tools of a happy life, it does not give us happiness itself, since it takes great individual effort over a long period of time to develop the virtues whose exercise constitutes our ultimate end.
In contemporary society, Victor Frankl is, arguably, the theorist who has inspired the most research and analysis of the question of meaning in human life. The central assertion of Frankl’s theory is that the universal striving to discover meaning-in-life, the “will to meaning,” is the primary motivational force in human behavior, maintaining this to be a uniquely human need and distinct from all others. Frankl’s assertion is that meaning-in-life is unconditional and can be experienced by all people and under any life circumstance. He stresses that a person is more fully human when she/he forgets herself/himself and experiences self-transcendence, what he considers to be the essence of human existence. Self-transcendence requires that we depart from our customary tendency to be self-centered and become truly aware of self through its interaction with the social world. Frankl asserts that such activity may include: (1) work, achievement, or accomplishment; (2) experience of goodness, truth, beauty, and love; and (3) attitude toward unavoidable suffering. Frankl says that in fact, even when severely deprived of physical comforts, even when stripped of everything important, one can still
find meaning in any situation, time, or place. In more recent years, research has continued to find significant associations between meaningin-life and both physical and psychological well-being. At the turn of the century researchers conducted a qualitative investigation of meaning-in-life by asking participants to discuss important sources of meaning in their own lives. They identified the following as the most frequent sources of meaning: relationships, creativity, personal development, nature, religion/spirituality, and social/political action and beliefs. Interestingly, the importance of relationships was reported by 100% of participants! Happiness is a difficult subject to research as it is hard to qualify or quantify. Happiness, well-being, life satisfaction, quality-of-life, tend to all be used interchangeably both in everyday language and in scientific research, because how could happiness have one operational definition? It can’t. One can experience well-being, joy, peace, growth….in essence happiness—even in times of deep sorrow. One can feel joy and happiness at the prospect of moving on to a new job, place, and phase of life and have deep sadness about leaving. Happiness is complicated, vast, and not always what or where you expect it to be! Often, it even surpasses expectations. In the end, the experience of happiness comes from within each of us, so its pursuit will take different forms, and its image in turn must be as unique as the individual experiencing it….who finds meaning in a given moment that brings happiness. Baharak Sedigh, Psy.D., M.A. BaharakSedigh@ZanMagazine.com References Debats, D. L., Drost, J., & Hansen, P. (1995). Experiences of meaning in life: a combined qualitative and quantitative approach. British Journal of Psychology, 86, 359-375. Frankl, V. E. (1959). Man’s search for meaning. Boston: Beacon Press. Frankl, V. E. (2000). Man’s search for ultimate meaning. Cambridge, MA: Perseus Publishing. Harlow, L. L., Newcomb, M. D., & Bentler, P. M. (1986). Depression, self-derogation, substance abuse, and suicide ideation: lack of purpose in life as a meditational factor. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 42, 5-21. Kraut, R. (1989). Aristotle and the human good. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press. Pinquart, M. (2002). Creating and maintaining purpose in life in old age: a meta-analysis. Ageing International, 27(2), 90-114. Rapley, M. (2003). Quality-of-research: a critical introduction. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Sedigh, B. (2010). A qualitative study of women 85 years and older reflecting on self-defined life-transitions. San Diego, CA: Alliant International University. Trombetti, I. A. (2005). Meaning in the lives of older adults. Rhode Island: University of Rhode Island Press.
PAAIA is a non-partisan, non-sectarian, national organization formed to help the Iranian American community achieve the recognition and influence it deserves. PAAIA’s focus is strictly domestic. It does not seek to engage in US-Iran foreign relations or in the internal affairs of Iran. It is supported exclusively by the generosity of its members, who give at many different levels. PAAIA does not accept support from any political party or governmental entity. OUR MISSION
1. To build a sense of pride in who we are, particularly among our youth, by celebrating the successes and contributions of Iranian Americans from all walks of life, and to project an accurate image that does our community justice as a vibrant, accomplished, productive, and constructive participant in American life. 2. To build a national network that connects Iranian-Americans together enabling members to
have greater access to prominent figures in the community, and to prepare the community to
respond appropriately to situations that require rapid mobilization or group action.
3. To build an influential community voice by promoting participation of Iranian-Americans in all spheres
of American political life, including supporting their election or appointment as public officials.
4. To give back to America as it has given to us.
ACCOMPLISHMENT S Since PAAIA’S public launch in April 2008, PAAIA has made significant strides towards accomplishing its mission.
SOME OF THE HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE:
Mentoring the Next Generation of Iranian Americans One of PAAIA’s core tenets is to serve as a bridge to the future. Launched in spring 2010, PAAIA’s Mentorship program matches students and earlycareer professionals with PAAIA’s Board Members, Trustees and other professionals who volunteer to mentor the younger generation to help them shape and/or advance their academic and career goals.
Iranians Americans Count In March 2009, PAAIA entered into a partnership with the U.S. Census Bureau at the Bureau’s initiative and coordinated efforts with a small coalition of organizations to secure an accurate count of Iranian Americans. By March 2010, the Iranians Count 2010 Census Coalition (ICCC) had grown into an unprecedented 47-member partnership and produced a public awareness campaign that succeeded in reaching Iranian Americans across the U.S. PAAIA welcomes collaboration to achieve greater impact.
Passing the Torch of Success
Following the inaugural Passing the Torch of Success event in Los Angeles in May 2009, Passing the Torch of Success was hosted in Orange County, New York City, Berkeley, and Houston. This ongoing series of educational and inspirational events aimed primarily at youth, highlight highly accomplished Iranian Americans in different fields who share their career experiences and the secrets of their success with the audience from the stage. The events have fostered a better understanding of the Iranian American community in the U.S. as well as within our culture and community.
Since the 2008 election cycle, IAPAC, the connected political action committee of PAAIA, has contributed $141,000 to a bipartisan group of 30 members of Congress, all four congressional party committees, and 12 Iranian American candidates for public office. It has also helped raise an additional $2.5 million for its endorsed candidates and party committees by encouraging Iranian Americans to directly contribute to these candidates and party’s campaign committees.
National Statistical Surveys
PAAIA has proactively brought issues of interest to the Iranian American community before the U.S. Congress. Staff initiated discussions and met with over 30 members of Congress and/or their staff to help draft and build bipartisan support for the Nowruz Resolution, which passed both chambers of Congress in March 2010 with over 70 co-sponsors. PAAIA also organized a “Network of Iranian Americans in Public Service” and held two networking receptions in Washington, DC for Iranian Americans employed in Congress and the executive branch.
In striving to become the leading source of accurate information about the Iranian American community, in 2008, PAAIA commissioned Zogby International, a nationally recognized pollster, to survey the community’s attitudes on important issues, with a follow-up survey in 2009. These invaluable data were the first of their kind and have been presented to the U.S. Congress, the media, and the general public to wide acclaim.
HOW TO GE T IN VOLV ED Join as a free member with opportunities to participate in our programs and local chapters.
Become a donor member for a minimum of $75 with voting eligibility and enjoy exclusive benefits.
FOR INFORMATION ON PAAIA PLEASE VISIT:
www.paaia.org/CMS/vision-mission-focus-history.aspx FOR INFORMATION ON MEMBERSHIP AND TO FILL ONLINE MEMBERSHIP FORM VISIT:
Pay attention to the way a child breathes. You will notice that a child’s breath is long, deep, and full. When a baby breathes you will notice her stomach rise, rise, rise, become big and round, and then gently fall. Just watching this is relaxing. Now I want you to take a long, slow, deep breath. How do you feel? It is amazing how profoundly relaxing a slow, deep breath is. It is impossible to feel stressed out if you do so.
take a deep breath written by Ady Burgida
Manifesting health, happiness, long term stress relief and
pain management, is in big part a process of becoming aware of yourself and your innate healing ability. As a massage therapist I help people achieve this by teaching them how to breathe during their massage, and through their breath educating them on how to reconnect to their bodies. Coordinating their inhales and exhales with massage strokes to bring blood back to stiff muscles, to stretch fascia and release areas of pent up memories and emotions within the soft tissue. As people release pain and old tensions and let them go, they develop an awareness of their bodies that they did not have before; and typically do not return to old negative patterns. Stress in the West is the norm, and the negative patterns of shallow breathing and physical agitation are common. They have become so ordinary that we do not even realize how much stress we manifest in our bodies. Stress causes us to breathe in a shallow manner, using only a small fraction of our true lung capacity. Superficial breathing reinforces our feeling of nervous tension—mentally and physically—and this becomes a cycle that feeds on itself. It becomes our life pattern. This nervous tension floods our bodies with chemicals associated with the flight/fight response, it causes our muscles to contract, and decreases the amount of oxygen in our bloodstream, resulting in quicker, shallower breaths in order to get the oxygen we require. To reverse this negative pattern we need to reinstate our intended breathing style – long, deep, full.
When coming into a massage session most of my adult clients lie on the table anticipating relaxation, but hold their breath—without even realizing it! When I point it out to them they are shocked. I gently remind them breathe. I urge them to do so 3 times before I even touch them. If their breath is shallow, I teach them deep belly breathing. By their third breath their face gently calms down, their hands fall to their sides and they begin to relax. As my client lies on the table for the first few minutes I watch their body and breath-language. We store tension in our muscles. And we store specific tension in specific muscles. By becoming aware of my client’s body and the rhythm of their breath, I know where to massage. Our breath should travel smoothly in and out of our lungs, expanding our diaphragm and chest as we inhale and exhale. This breathing rhythm should flow smoothly throughout our body. Try this. Sit comfortably, breathe deeply, close your eyes and follow your breath as it travels into each and every body part. Become aware of where your breath flows freely and where you experience a sensation of blockage. The areas that feel blocked or tense are areas of muscle tension. This is where your breath and the therapeutic massage work need to be focused. Your massage therapist will be able to feel those areas of tension also. By focusing your breath into pockets of tension in your body, and coordinating your breath with the massage therapist’s strokes, you can quickly release areas of chronic tension within your muscles. Sometimes as this happens, emotions come to the surface, memories, and even traumas. Our muscles hold our memories, thoughts, and emotions; our breath helps release them, and together with therapeutic touch (massage) you can slowly release negative patterns of physical and emotional stress. Through breath-work you allow blood and oxygen to return to your entire body and you develop self awareness. Remember, to manifest wellness, always be positive. Mark all your successes no matter how small. Throughout your day, take a minute to yourself to breathe. And, if you have an ache or a pain rather than ignoring it, bring your awareness to it, breathe deeply into it, and help it melt away! For more info: Ady Burgida, Ady@KavanaSpa.Com.
Chloe Dao FA SHI O N D E SI GNER
fter a long journey of ten months, Chloe Dao emerged as the winner of Bravo’s Emmy nominated Project Runway 2 on
March 8, 2006. She competed against 15 designers and was among the three finalists to showcase their Fall 2006 collection at New York’s Fashion Week at Seventh on Sixth. Dao won the hearts of America with her mild honest demeanor but won the votes of judges Heidi Klum, Michael Kors, Nina Garcia
and special guest judge Debra Messing with her consistent display of technical skills, business savvy and creative talent. As the winner of PR2, she received $100,000 seed money to use toward her design business, a 2007 Saturn Sky Roadster, a spread in Elle magazine, and a mentorship with Banana Republic. Her win caused a media frenzy, and “Chloe Dao” quickly became a household name. Dao was featured on NBC’s Today and Access Hollywood, CNN’s American Morning, ABC’s The View and E!’s Inside Edition. Major national and international magazines such as People, Time, US Weekly, Forbes, Forbes Asia, Star, WWD, and New York Times covered this success story of an immigrant living out her American dream. After the media frenzy waned, invitations came flooding in for Dao to share her inspirational story. She was the keynote speaker at Houston Community College’s Class of 2006 Commencement and spoke in front of 20,000 graduates and guests. News of Dao’s accomplishments reached the White House, and she was honored with an invitation to a special conference celebrating Asian American Heritage month with President Bush. In January 2007, Dao’s designs were featured in the Smithsonian Museum in the “Exit Saigon, Enter Little Saigon” exhibit. Dao’s reputation for understanding women and their bodies landed her a contract with Dove as their national spokesperson for the “Sleeveless Ready” campaign. And during Spring 2007 New York Fashion Week, LensCrafters chose Dao as the featured designer and as a panelist along with Tim Gunn, Hal Rubenstein, Bobbie Thomas, and Gretta Monahan to discuss eyewear’s role as the “it” accessory. Dao reached the masses this year when she debuted on QVC with three consecutive sell-out appearances with her line Simply Chloe Dao, exclusive to QVC. Her effortless style and modern sensibility lead her to partner with bag and travel gear maker Nuo Tech to create a line mobile technology and travel accessories. The Dao Chloe Dao by Nuo Collection will be available at multiple retailers nationwide in the Spring of 2009. The collection is modern, contemporary and most of all fun. It’s unique play on colors, geometry and shapes to
create fashion forward designs without any boundaries. Dao’s modest immigrant upbringing has kept her grounded despite her new found celebrity status. She emigrated from Pakse, Laos in 1979 with her parents, Thu Thien Dao and Hue Thuc Luong, and her 7 sisters to the U.S. and settled in Houston, Texas. All the sisters were encouraged to study hard and pursue careers in medicine or law, although Dao was never interested in either. Her passion for design and fashion were sparked at the age of 10 when she saw her first episode of CNN’s Style with Elsa Klensch. The passion grew into a career choice, and years later Dao graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology with a patternmaking degree. After graduation, she honed her design and patternmaking skills at Finity, Melinda Eng, and Gregory Parkinson. Her business savvy came naturally since both parents were entrepreneurs. Internationally renowned buying office, Catherine Dietlein taught Dao the art of buying and merchandising. Dao left New York in the summer of 2000 a seasoned industry professional and opened up LOT 8, named after the eight Dao sisters. Even with the win of PR2, Dao continues to develop and grow her boutique’s business in Houston. In March 2008, she launched her Dao Chloe Dao line. She introduced her bridal collection during the summer of 2010 and received rave reviews from both brides and media. Her collection is available at LOT 8 boutique and on www.lot8online.com.
FA SHI O N
GOING DOWN SOUTH FOR THE WINTER
creative direction Sarrah Zadeh photography Tiffany cintron models Michelle Moody (left) Debbie Villasana make-up Donovan Canapi hair Megan Dye SHORTS $138, SHIRT $198, DRESS $328
Dress (LEFT) $348 Dress (RIGHT) $298, Bamboleo necklace $228
Â Jumper $398
“ from MISS TORRES to MRS.
TAGHECHIAN ” written by Babette Taghechian
If someone had told me
when I was a young girl that I would someday
marry a handsome man living on the other side of the world in a city called Mashhad, Iran, I would have responded, “Where? Me? No way!”
I was born in Wiesbaden, Germany, due to my father being stationed overseas while he was in the U.S. Army Airborne Division. Shortly thereafter, my family moved back to the U.S. and I grew up in Corpus Christi, a small seaside city in South Texas. Being of Spaniard/Mexican ancestry, I was raised in a very large, Catholic, traditional Hispanic family of eight. I attended public schools where the minorities were of Hispanic and Black population. My family only spoke Spanish in our household and at the age of 5, not knowing any English, I was placed in a bilingual program to help me get started in Kindergarten. I would not have any exposure to other cultures outside of mine until I would leave home and attend The University of Texas at Austin. There my life changed dramatically when I was finally able to make friends with people from all over the world. My college roommates would eventually tease me saying that when the telephone rang if the person calling had an accent, it was for Babette. As it turned out most of those accents were Persian. One day at a coffee shop on campus, a group of pretty and friendly Iranian girls approached me to ask me if I was from Iran. They seemed
surprise when I told them I was Hispanic because they said that I looked Persian—a comment I didn’t know I would continue to receive in my future life. The girls befriended me right away and I became part of their larger circle of friends. I’ll never forget their picking me up to take me to my first Persian party. I got into a crowded car and Parisa loaded an Andy & Kouros music cassette (my age just revealed), raising the volume loudly as we sped away. The girls were laughing, singing with joy, clapping, snapping their fingers, and dancing waving their arms in their seats. They were speaking Farsi and I became fascinated with their passionate accents and the whole scene. When we arrived at the party, I knew it was “Happening!” There were many Iranians squeezed into that small clubhouse, a gigantic stereo was blasting more of that lively upbeat Persian music that kept everyone whistling, dancing, and sweating on that small dance floor until dawn. I found it very odd that the Persian guys had no problem dancing with other guys together and that they loved showing off their dance-floor skills to the ladies. There were party snacks on a large table (food that their college budgets could afford at the time), Mortadella sandwiches, Masto-Khiar,
Salad Olvieh, and lots of Fanta Orange sodas and Coca Cola. A young, good-looking guy made his grand entrance to the party and observed the party scene. He asked his friend, “Hey, who is that Iranian girl dancing with Parisa? I’ve never seen her before.” His friend said, “Oh, that girl is not Iranian, she attends UT her name is Babette Torres.” I was casually introduced to Afshin that evening and we enjoyed each other’s company so much that Afshin and I ended up becoming great friends. I never realized—or could have imagined—that our friend had just introduced me to my future husband on that enchanted evening.
to remind you that these games were invented by Persians. I have played “Hokm” too many times drinking tea ‘til the sun came up.
I came to realize quickly that Iranians run on “Persian time,” so if you get invited to a party and the host tells you that it starts at 7, you will be the only guest there if you arrive on time and do not know how this works. The rest of the guests will arrive at 8 (most of them will be wearing black sheek outfits). Oh, and you will find the party as soon as you notice how many Mercedes and BMWs are parked along the street. I learned the hard way that it’s important to take a nap the day of the party in order to have extra energy for the long night of dancI was hooked! I started reading books about the history of Iran. I could ing and partying. There is a lot of etiquette when it comes to saying not get enough of the Persian culture, the people, and the exotic deligoodbye to your hosts and guests. Don’t cious food. My friends taught me Farsi count on leaving right away because words, and yes, even the bad words. I people will insist that you stay longer especially loved their classical music, I was hooked! I started and it will take many times and minutes which always took my mind back in time reading books about the of saying “Khoda hafez” before you to another place, another world. I took are actually out the door. Iranians are every opportunity to ask my new Persian history of Iran. I could not excellent hosts. I guarantee you will friends to tell me more about Iran and always have a memorable and fun time! their family stories of how they came get enough of the Persian to the U.S. I learned that my Spanish Embracing the Persian culture and culture was in sync with the Iranian culture, the people, and loving it as much as my own Spanculture as we had a lot in common when ish background enables me and my it came to having pride in our countries, the exotic delicious food. family to enjoy the best of both traditions, the importance and respect worlds. I have tried very hard to we held towards our parents and family, expose my two daughters, Ava and Nadia, to both cultures, makethical principles, and the strong desire to succeed and enjoy life. ing sure that we elaborately celebrate both Norooz and Christmas, for example. I love listening to my daughters speak Farsi—esAfter two years of friendship, Afshin and I began dating exclusively. pecially with my husband’s relatives in Iran. We have enjoyed We fell in love and he asked my father’s permission for my hand in many trips to Iran and we always tour different cities. I’m amazed marriage. The only “words of wisdom” that my father gave Afshin at Iran’s beautiful landscapes. The people there are so warm and was that marriage is a Holy and Sacred sacrament in our Spanish inviting. They always make us feel welcomed. My favorite city culture and religion, “Til death do us part” was a serious oath and is Shiraz. I cannot express how much I felt at home the first time was not to be taken lightly. My father further stated that marriage I visited the ruins of “Takhte Jamsheed” or “Persepolis.” I had takes a lot of work, patience, respect, and tons of compromising. He read so much about this part of Iran in my early college days and reminded Afshin that since he and I are of different ethnic backeven had a large-framed poster of the ancient ruins hanging on grounds, we would have to work extra hard accepting and embracing my wall back then, always wondering if someday I would get to our cultures in order for our marriage to succeed. Afshin understood go there. And I hope to travel to Iran again soon...”Insha’Allah.” completely. Afshin proposed to me in the presence of my parents and I happily accepted and became Mrs. Babette Taghechian. There is nothing dull about being married to an Iranian man. It’s been an exciting experience for me. I especially enjoy socializing with Iranians—they really know how to have a good time and it really does make a huge difference if you know some Farsi. Of course, there were embarrassing moments with my first tries to communicate in Farsi. I remember attending my first Persian wedding and congratulating the bride & groom by saying “Tahdig!” instead of “Tabreek!” I have some favorite personal observations such as, Iranians like playing chess and backgammon—and they will always be proud
An interview with Fereshteh “Faye” Sorurbakhsh written by Marjan Castillo
Taking the Oil and Gas Industry by Storm! Spotlight on Houston’s Own
s owner and CFO of Texas OilTech Laboratories, Inc. Ms. Faye Sorurbakhsh has accomplished what others only dream of. In today’s highly competitive market, Ms. Sorurbakhsh’s entrepreneurial endeavors have led to widespread success on a global scale with home offices located in Houston, Texas, an office in Bogota, Colombia and a third office located in Kuwait City, Kuwait. According to Fortune 500’s 2011 annual small business report, one of the remaining industries yet to employ women in positions of power is the oil and gas industry. However, Ms. Sorurbakhsh has shattered the proverbial “glass ceiling” that women hit. Through her trailblazing accomplishments, Ms. Sorurbakhsh has paved the way for women all over the world who may find themselves inspired to reach feats once considered male-dominated and unavailable to women. Texas OilTech Laboratories, Inc. is a company committed to remaining a world-class petroleum testing laboratory for the analysis of fuels, lubricants, petrochemical, and environmental materials. With both in-house and on-site analytical capabilities and the capability to develop specific test plans to meet precise customer requirements, Texas OilTech Laboratories, Inc. has established a proven performance in many industries while creating unique test procedures to solve complex testing issues. Texas OilTech Laboratories is a privately held corporation that has been in existence since 1985.
MARJAN: Where did you grow up? What was it like?
Is there anything in particular that
I grew up in Tehran, Iran, until I immigrated to the United States with my family when I was 16 years old. This was a very difficult time for me because I was dealing with a new culture, new language, and a new lifestyle in general. Having the love and support of my family and knowing that I was not alone in this new journey helped me stay above water.
you wish you could do over?
Describe your parents. What are they like? My father is a very strong man who is not afraid to share his beliefs and values. He has always been a positive role model for me and has always expected me to excel in life and never settle. Growing up, he was always pushing us to do well and to demand more from our lives. As far as my mother is concerned, she is whom I consider the backbone of the family. She has always been loving, caring, supportive and truly nurturing to the family unit.
If I could go back in time, I would pursue higher education because it makes a difference in peoplesâ€™ attitudes, how society treats you, and the respect you are given. Tell me about a time in your life that you will never forget? The sudden and untimely passing of my husband was a deeply traumatic experience in my life. He was a successful, loving, and deeply devoted individual who made a tremendous impact on my life. Part of my drive with regard to my business is that I want to fulfill our dreams. Before he died, we had planned and thought through the idea for the business but unfortunately he did not live to see it realized. However, his legacy lives on through my children and myself. Through us, we will carry on his life-long dream. What is something that you are really proud of ? Why?
Have you made any mistakes that helped or hurt you in a way that you would like to share? In the early days of my business I did not employ many women because the field was so one-sided. However, over the years I have realized the enormous potential that women can provide and have sought to employ women of distinct character. What are some things that you want out of
I have made a successful business and have been able to provide a comfortable life for my children. What are some goals you are still trying to accomplish? I would like to continue to expand the business into other parts of the world and to reach the level of success we have reached here. My children are my priority and I want to make sure they are well provided for in my absence.
your life in terms of your career choice? I would like to make myself more technologically saavy in the industry and to continue to progress each and every day. What are some qualities that you value in a person? A go-getter who is driven to perfection. I appreciate someone who is constantly bettering himself or herself, is assertive, and is not willing to settle for less. Honesty and trustworthiness are also two attributes that I demand in both my professional and personal relationships. What inspires you to do good? How do you give back to your surrounding community? Annually, I donate to the American Cancer Society Medical Research Fund in hopes that they may find a cure. I also contribute to the homeless and needy families in the greater Houston area. Do you have any special or important dates that mean anything to you? If so, what are they? February 19, 1987 marks the anniversary of Texas OilTech Laboratories, Inc. In honor of our anniversary, each year we publish new catalogues and brochures. These are updated and improved in an effort to stay current and up-to-date on the latest technological advances in the oil and gas industry.
What are you most scared of in life? Not getting to where I want to be when I enter the sunset of my life. To not have accomplished all of my heartâ€™s desires and to be left with unanswered questions.
...and so, the question remains,
TO VOTE OR NOT TO VOTE? written by Khatereh Kathy Soltani
ho has the correct answer to this question? Why should we even bother getting involved with politics? Many even go as far as saying their “one” vote won’t make a difference anyhow! I beg to differ, “your one vote” is of great value to you and to many others your vote might have an impact on! For women worldwide, the luxury of voting was something that was not easily earned. If we take a trip back to our not so distant history, we will see that women in our adopted homeland of The United States were granted the right to vote in 1920 and in Iran only in 1963. As hard as it may be to believe, Iranian women had a voice in their country’s elections prior to that of their Swiss counterparts! It was eight years later when the Swiss government passed the legislation to allow its women participation in the elections. Clearly, the road traveled by some Iranian women to gain access to their country’s elections was not an easy one. Due to the rise of women’s rights movements around the world, including Iran, certain advancements were being implemented gradually such as the right to vote. For those of us who were merely kids or not born at the time of all the changes in that period of Iran’s history, knowing the make-up of our families, we can imagine which one our female family members might have been involved in the movement to empower women in Iran in the sixties and thereafter.
Now we take a trip from the past into the present time and find ourselves in a different continent and in an entirely different political and social landscape than that of our country of origin. We have, for various reasons, chosen to leave Iran and make the United States our home. Many of us have become US citizens and have made this country our second home; we have either raised our families or started one here. We enjoy the same rights and privileges as the next person who was born here. We didn’t have to fight for the right to vote as did many women who came before us and who should be credited for paving the road for us. Unfortunately this road is less traveled by many Iranian Americans who take their basic rights for granted. I am puzzled as to why only a minute number of us get involved in the US elections. We live and work here, pay taxes, we don’t hesitate questioning and criticizing the actions of our elected officials and yet many of us are not even registered voters! Interestingly, in many cases, the actions of our elected officials will not only impact our lives here but also that of our relatives in Iran in one way or another. So, exactly why is it that we don’t see the urgency in participating in the elections? If you are new at this, let’s talk about how you should begin this process. The first requirement is being a US citizen, the second, is registering to vote. Each state has its own laws pertaining to voter registration. Only seven states allow citizens to register to vote on the same
Interestingly, in many cases, the actions of our elected officials will not only impact our lives here but also that of our relatives in Iran in one way or another. So, exactly why is it that we don’t see the urgency
day of the election, known as Election Day Registration. In many states, when registering to vote, one may be required to declare an affiliation with a political party. This type of declaration of affiliation is not required in Texas, and a registered voter can decide which party to support on election day without having to declare it. In general elections, a voter may choose to vote for all of a particular party’s candidates also known as “straight-ticket voting” or vote for candidates from different parties running for different offices. For instance, you may choose to vote for one party’s candidate for President and another party’s candidate for Senator, Governor etc. In a general election, a person may vote for any party’s candidates, regardless of the political party they belong to. If you declare
in participating in the elections?
you don’t receive your card in the mail. The card will contain your information and it will give you a precinct location and number. Many first time voters will go to the wrong polling location, also known as precinct on Election Day. Please take the time to familiarize yourself with the polling location prior to Election Day. It is recommended to have your card with you on Election Day, however in Texas you may vote by presenting your valid Texas picture identification since your name has already been entered in the system as a registered voter. Now that you are registered and ready to vote it’s time for the most important task, namely getting to know your candidates. These days, with the click of a few buttons, we can easily surf the web and obtain information about candidates. Please don’t rely on political mass media advertisements, those are paid for by the candidates and obviously will put them in the best light while simultaneously portraying their opponent as the worse choice for the position. Next year is election year in the US, start by doing your homework to avoid pressure at the end. Please get involved in your local elections and vote for your city council members, Mayor and proceed to electing your Senators, members of Congress both on state and national level and last but not least add your voice and vote to elect the US President.
your affiliation with either party, you become eligible to vote in the primary election for the party you are affiliated with. Even in Texas, where your affiliation with a party is not required, you may only vote for one party’s candidates during the primary season. During your registration process for that specific primary election, you will be asked which party you plan on supporting, subsequently you will be given a ballot in accordance with your choice. During the general election, however, you will receive a ballot with the names of all candidates running for different offices representing all political parties. It remains up to the voter to choose to vote for all of a particular party’s candidates, “straight-ticket voting,” or to vote for candidates from different parties for different offices. Should you not be a registered voter, you may obtain your application at your local post office, county office, public library and the DPS office. After having registered, you will receive a voter registration card in the mail within 4 weeks, please call the county office if
Each of us should have a voice and mobilize friends and family members to get involved in our elections. If you don’t see it as necessary to vote, do it for all those women in different corners of the world who are not as privileged as you. I hope now, the only response to the question of whether to vote or not is “YES, I VOTE.” I would like to close this article using a quote by Louis L’Amour, an American storyteller (1908-1988): “To make democracy work, we must be a notion of participants, not simply observers. One who does not vote has no right to complain.” So, go out there and add your vote to that of many others, believe me, it does count for something.
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