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Persian Culture Catches on; Expands at U.S. Campuses
Ascribe ^ | 9/27/07 | Ascribe

Posted on 09/27/2007 5:22:21 PM PDT by freedom44

COLLEGE PARK, Md., Sept. 27 (AScribe Newswire) -- A growing American interest in Iranian language and culture is sparking an expansion on U.S. campuses of full-fledged Persian Studies programs, led by the University of Maryland and the Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute. The new emphasis reaches beyond geopolitical concerns to focus on language acquisition, literature and other aspects of Persian culture.

In response to this growing fascination among a diverse pool of students, Maryland's four year-old Center for Persian Studies - the first autonomous, interdisciplinary center in the field in the United States - will significantly expand its faculty, programs, research and scholarships. Funding for this initiative comes from a $3 million leadership gift by the Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute, an independent charitable foundation (http://www.roshan-institute.org ).

"This awakening reflects more than the coming of age of second-generation Persian-Americans seeking to explore their family's cultural heritage," says Ahmad Karimi-Hakkak, the founding director of the University of Maryland Center for Persian Studies. "About half of our students have had little or no previous connection with the subject. Some are lured by the headlines and want to develop skills in a critical language. But others feel the timeless resonance of Persian culture - and that's our focus."

TREND: GROWTH IN PERSIAN STUDIES

Students are attracted to Persian in growing numbers, according to Karimi-Hakkak. At a typical state university, he says 30 to 40 entering students are interested in a language like Persian. He estimates that these numbers have increased by nearly 50 percent over the past few years. Nationwide, about 70 universities offer some Persian language courses. About half of these have significant programs in literature and culture.

Academically, Karimi-Hakkak says the new trend is to broaden the focus and create autonomous, interdisciplinary centers dedicated to Persian Studies. Maryland opened the first, and two years ago a second opened at the University of California at Irvine.

"This approach has some significant advantages, and helps Persian studies to come into its own as a comprehensive field," says Nariman Farvardin, University of Maryland provost and one of the nation's highest ranking university officials of Persian extraction. "Our ultimate goal is to create a full-fledged minor and major in Persian studies. Many of our courses are taught in English and we're encouraged by the students' enthusiasm."

The Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute, has played a major role in the academic development and expansion of Persian studies, stimulating planning and helping support programs at several universities in the United States and internationally.

"When I began the Institute in 2000, my goal was to promote the kind of cross-cultural clarity that is so desperately needed today," says Elahe Mir-Djalali Omidyar, an expert in cross-cultural studies and linguistics and the president and CEO of the Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute. "In Persian, the word "roshan" means "clear." Persian culture and history did not begin two decades ago - it stretches back 3,500 years. I'm helping pioneer this new academic concentration because cultural understanding and appreciation are essential to effective communication, essential to the development of non-antagonistic and more productive relationships."

STUDENTS ARE HOOKED

Adam Fried, History major who transferred to Maryland mainly for the opportunity to enroll in Persian studies courses: "Not only do they give non-Persian students the opportunity to learn about an area that is often misunderstood and misrepresented, but the program also provides Persian students with a cultural center - a sort of home away from home - whose relevance is undeniable and irreplaceable."

Neda Khalili, Art History and French major who lives in a Persian-speaking cluster in a special foreign language dorm: "I came to Persian studies for self-enrichment and a closer connection to my own culture. I am a first generation Iranian American and my family strongly embraces education, culture and heritage. These classes truly help me embrace that goal. Also, people are opening up and learning about more distant cultures. We are slowly but steadily building a more open-minded society."

Robert Stewart: "I am a German Studies major, and I began taking classes offered by the Center in an attempt to discover more about Persian culture. Indeed this is a complex undertaking for which the Center has become my home base. It is a resource for both heritage and non heritage students."

Behrad Behbahani, Finance major who was surprised and gratified when the Center for Persian Studies first opened: "I could not wait to register for a Persian class," he explains. "I was interested in taking these classes because I have a great interest in my native culture and always want to know as much as I can about it. ... I felt it would be another foothold that Iranians would have in the community."

RUMI RESONATES

The international popularity of the 12th century mystical poet Rumi, as he is known in the West, demonstrates the appeal of traditional Persian culture, says Karimi-Hakkak. Rumi's 800th birthday falls at the end of September, and the United Nations has declared 2007 as International Rumi Year.

The anniversary is being marked around the world in a series of events including a Rumi conference conducted in English at the University of Maryland sponsored by the Center for Persian Studies. http://www.languages.umd.edu/persian/C-Rumi-state.php

"Rumi's message is universal in scope and as relevant today as it was 800 years ago," says Karimi-Hakkak. "As this rich heritage unfolds to the West, it translates into greater student interest. The Persian language of Rumi's time is virtually identical to the one used today. So his works are accessible in a way that Chaucer and other distant literature are not. All this translates into the growing student interest in Persian studies programs."


TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events; US: Maryland
KEYWORDS: highereducation; iranianamericans; leftistagenda; leftistpap; persian; persianpimps; propaganda; umd

1 posted on 09/27/2007 5:22:26 PM PDT by freedom44
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To: FARS

ping


2 posted on 09/27/2007 5:24:36 PM PDT by null and void (<---- Awake and filled with a terrible resolve...)
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To: freedom44

I can’t help but wonder how popular these studies will be, when all of these midriff-baring, miniskirt-wearing, trampstamp-sporting Girls Gone Wild are forced by Shari’a law into burlap bags and stoned with rocks instead of Ecstasy.


3 posted on 09/27/2007 5:25:43 PM PDT by Old Sarge (This tagline in memory of FReeper 68-69TonkinGulfYachtClub)
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To: freedom44
Persian Culture Catches on; Expands at U.S. Campuses

Yeah.
And Hitler and Mussolini were admired on the pages of even
The Daily Oklahoman for being "can-do" guys during the Great Depression.

Making the trains run on time (Mussolini)...
or "building a domestic nuclear industry" (Akmad-What's-His-Name)
doesn't make your culture all that freakin' great!!!
4 posted on 09/27/2007 5:25:57 PM PDT by VOA
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To: freedom44

Persion culture..ok. This was bound to happen...what happened when we lost the Vietnam war? Expanded interest in everything Asian...

The weak go to where they think the power is. Right now, at least the perception is that it’s with them.


5 posted on 09/27/2007 5:27:09 PM PDT by Hildy ("man's reach exceeds his grasp"? It's a lie: man's grasp exceeds his nerve.)
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To: freedom44

Persion culture..ok. This was bound to happen...what happened when we lost the Vietnam war? Expanded interest in everything Asian...

The weak go to where they think the power is. Right now, at least the perception is that it’s with them.


6 posted on 09/27/2007 5:27:11 PM PDT by Hildy ("man's reach exceeds his grasp"? It's a lie: man's grasp exceeds his nerve.)
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To: freedom44

http://youtube.com/watch?v=ptoERP6aTsM


7 posted on 09/27/2007 5:27:49 PM PDT by struggle ((The struggle continues))
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To: freedom44

The best thing about Persian culture is the women. I’ve said it once, I’ll probably annoy you folks by saying it yet again!


8 posted on 09/27/2007 5:27:54 PM PDT by Clemenza (Rudy Giuliani, like Pesto and Seattle, belongs in the scrap heap of '90s Culture)
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To: Old Sarge; VOA

Don’t confuse Persian culture with arab/møøslimb culture.


9 posted on 09/27/2007 5:28:05 PM PDT by null and void (<---- Awake and filled with a terrible resolve...)
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To: null and void

Yeah . . . I’m wondering if these students might actually learn something.


10 posted on 09/27/2007 5:31:08 PM PDT by 1rudeboy
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To: null and void

Do they still hang their butts in the air five times daily?
Do they still hang people who don’t conform to the Ko-ran?


11 posted on 09/27/2007 5:31:46 PM PDT by Old Sarge (This tagline in memory of FReeper 68-69TonkinGulfYachtClub)
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To: Old Sarge

Well, I don’t know if that’s a deterrent with leftie types. And some college girls forego their sorority/GGW lifestyle to join Islam and willingly don the hijab, actually liking the security of the rules (looking now for comments from the story on the PSU student convert...). How many support and study and protest for Palestinian and other causes, even knowing the Palis like to strap explosives to their children and that ‘honor’ killings are carried out? If it’s leftie enough, there will be interest. The paradox that their very lifestyle if acted upon in Iran would get them killed will not be comprehended, or will be swept into the pool of relativism...


12 posted on 09/27/2007 5:37:56 PM PDT by fortunecookie (Finally catching up with posting...)
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To: Clemenza

13 posted on 09/27/2007 5:38:22 PM PDT by concentric circles
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To: null and void

“Don’t confuse Persian culture with arab/møøslimb culture.”

While just an average civilian, I get the feeling there is
“Classical Persian culture” (or”continual Persian culture in the
homes of Persians/Iranians)
and “Contemporary Persian/Ayaollah-run Culture”.

The former is worthy of respect from what little I know.

About the latter...
Right now, with President Ahmed-What’s-His-Name and all his imprecatory
prayers to some imam-down-a-well...and his energetic push in regards
to some sort of apocalypse with his “Bring It On” attitude...
I’ll fear the latter (Contemporary Persian culture)

As for all the Persian/expat Iranians I met during a decade in “Tehrangeles”,
they were OK folks and good neighbors.


14 posted on 09/27/2007 5:38:27 PM PDT by VOA
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To: VOA

Yes. You have to remember that the Shah of Iran celebrated 2,500 years of Persian Monarchy just 36 years ago. It is kind of strange how some emphasize 28 years of the Islamic Republic over 5,000 years of Persian history.


15 posted on 09/27/2007 5:41:25 PM PDT by freedom44
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To: freedom44
Too bad Persian culture didn't end here!!
16 posted on 09/27/2007 5:49:29 PM PDT by DryFly
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To: concentric circles

17 posted on 09/27/2007 6:03:16 PM PDT by Clemenza (Rudy Giuliani, like Pesto and Seattle, belongs in the scrap heap of '90s Culture)
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To: Clemenza

A neighbor of mine fled Iran after the revolution. He married a woman with average at best looks. Their daughters are drop dead gorgeous.


18 posted on 09/27/2007 6:08:11 PM PDT by Rb ver. 2.0 (Reunite Gondwanaland!)
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To: Clemenza

Cut that out! I’m out of the dog house and you’re gonna put me right back in there if she walks by!


19 posted on 09/27/2007 6:25:30 PM PDT by concentric circles
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To: Old Sarge

That one liner could be a great tag line....


20 posted on 09/27/2007 7:14:50 PM PDT by WakeUpAndVote (Got Towel?)
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To: Abundy; Albion Wilde; AlwaysFree; AnnaSASsyFR; bayliving; BFM; cindy-true-supporter; ...

Maryland “Freak State” PING!


21 posted on 09/27/2007 7:22:36 PM PDT by Tolerance Sucks Rocks (Oh, Geesh, not THIS crap AGAIN?!?)
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To: freedom44

Like they say, “if you believe in nothing, you’ll fall for anything”.


22 posted on 09/28/2007 6:01:51 AM PDT by JZelle
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