The headline of this news article, “Unlikely Ties Connect Iran and Portland, Oregon” , instantly caught my attention since so much of my life was shaped by my encounters with Iranians and the Persian language when I lived in Portland. Many of the Iranian-American ties described by Steve Holgate in this article were familiar to me, and some were new. Here are some of the new developments he describes:
- Portland State Univeristy has re-established a professorship of Persian language after a break of several decades. (Wow! Has it really been several decades since I studied Persian under Dr. Kazem Tehrani at Portland State University!?)
- The Portland city council recently passed a resolution declaring friendship with the people of Iran and its intent to become a sister city with Shiraz, Iran. (Shiraz is another city that I feel connected with, since my wife and I spent a fascinating week there exploring Iranian history and experiencing the welcome of friendly Iranian people.)
- The American Iranian Friendship Committee, was formed in 2006 to strengthen ties between Portland and Iran.
There are other ties with Iran that he didn’t mention, some of which are connected to memories of wonderful people and significant events like:
- The annual Portland International Film Festival which always features several Iranian films.
- Persia House and the annual Nawruz celebration and Sizdah bedar picnic that they sponsor. These are both great events for making friends, eating great food, and experiencing Persian culture.
- The Iranian Church of Portland – where I met my wife!
- A number of Persian restaurants where you can experince some of the best food in the world- well, actually the best food I’ve ever had came from the kitchens of our Iranian friends. But if you aren’t lucky enough to have Iranian friends, you can still have great food at one of the better Persian restaurants.
As you can see, Persian people, culture and language have played a big part in my life- and it all started in Portland, Oregon. I’m glad to see that the connection of friendship between Iran and Portland is growing. I hope that one day politics will cease to stand in the way of friendship existing between our two nations as well.
Click here to read Amanda’s article about our 2003 visit to Iran: Americans in Persia
Click here for an article reflecting on similarities between the Achaemenids and America: From Ancient Iran to America
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