Friends in Iran

Iran is mentioned frequently in the news these days, and usually in the same sentence with the words “nuclear” and “threat”.  However, for me, the mention of Iran brings back memories of the warm and friendly people who welcomed our group of citizen diplomats.  Last December, our group of ten visited five cities in Iran.  Everywhere we went, Iranians told us enthusiastically that they love Americans, but not George Bush.  They understand that we, as ordinary citizens, do not necessarily share the opinions or values of our President.  Many Iranians with whom we spoke expressed clearly that they do not like the views or rhetoric of President Ahmadinejad.

I continue to speak to small groups, sharing my photos and stories of my experiences in Iran.  Our two countries share so much in common.  It seems we are divided by what we do not know and the rumors.  My hope is that our new leadership uses the time honored art of diplomacy.  We have so much to gain.

                                               

This photo shows Masoumeh, on left, speaking with me about our visit.  This was in Qom, outside a holy shrine.  Masoumeh asked me if I was Muslim.  I explained that I wasn’t but that we were there to learn about Iran and meet Iranians so we could share these experiences with other Americans.  We spoke about various things.  When she left, she asked that I pray for her to my god in my own way.  This total acceptance by a devout young Muslim that my beliefs were different and that that was fine left a very positive impression on me.

Our two countries have so much to share and learn from each other. 

Priscilla

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2 Responses to “Friends in Iran”

  1. practicingpeace Says:

    Priscilla is being quite modest when she says that she continues to speak to small groups. She’s been presenting programs for diverse groups all around the Capital District. Even traveling to neighboring states to share her photos and her experiences of Iran. She and two other tri-cities residents returned from a Fellowship of Reconciliation trip to Iran in December of 2007.
    I believe that she and another Women Against War member are working to arrange some gatherings on local college and university campuses during the fall semester.
    As far as I know there have been at least six local people who have traveled to Iran during the past couple of years. After meeting and spending time with the people of Iran, they’ve returned with strong motivation to prevent a military attack on this young and growing country. with its wise and ancient culture. After seeing wonderful photographs and listening to stories like the one in this post it’s obvious that people to people diplomacy is one important way to learn about each other and to solve conflicts in nonviolent ways.
    Stay tuned for much more about Iran!
    Mickie

  2. Linda M. Says:

    I was happy to read Priscilla’s post and be reminded of the times I have heard her in person share the knowledge and experiences she gained in Iran. Her experiences match with the many books and alternative media I have consulted about life in Iran. When people ask me how I know that the political, religious, and social conditions in Iran are far more complex and less threatening to the US than we hear from our political leaders and from the main stream media, I tell them it is because I seek out many different sources and then compare what the various reports say. I tell them that I also look at the sources, does the source have something to gain from their version of the truth or are they in a position to see things more objectively.

    My point is that I hope Americans have more and more exposure to the lives of everyday Iranians and that they are also encouraged to seek out information of their own. For that reason I myself went to the Iraqi refugees welcoming picnic last weekend at the Islamic Center of the Capital District. There I had a conversation, with the help of an Egyptian translator, with a young Iraqi refugee. She is a Muslim, but we did not discuss religion. Rather we discussed some of her difficulties in managing the system of refugee help, food stamps, English as a second language classes, and the like. As we talked, she also said it must be hard for Americans also to manage everyday life and work and child care and the rest. I was moved by her empathy as I am by that of the Iranian woman Priscilla described.

    I was glad to support the refugees at the picnic, but I think I gained more than they did, and I pray for more Americans to experience such opportunities.

    Linda M.

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