Brecht in Tehran
young Iranians left their country in the late 1970s and early 1980s to study in
the U.S. During that period, the country became gripped in a major struggle ending
in regime change. Iran transitioned from the monarchy of the Mohammed Reza Shah
to the establish ment of an Islamic republic.
Many U.S. universities had opened
their doors to Iranian students, as the Shah supported and sponsored a significant
number of programs to educate both young people and career professionals at American
universities. During the interim quarter century, close to a million of the Iranians
educated in the U.S., chose not to return home and settled permanently in places
like Los Angeles, New York and Boston. They have become successful new Americans
playing leadership roles in their fields of expertise. They are simultaneously
part of the two worlds we seek to connect in this exchange program.
exchange program brings a career high school literature teacher from Tehran, Mr.
Mansoor Maleki, to visit many of his former students who live in various U.S.
cities and have experienced the dual identity as Iranian Americans. Mr. Maleki
always had a knack for touching the lives of his students and introduced them
not only to classical Persian poetry but also to great Western writers, such as
Ernest Hemmingway, Walt Whitman, Bertolt Brecht and Jack London.
legacy continues to inspire generations of students, with his literary skill and
insightful reflection. He has a talent for creating meaningful and moving relationships.
These qualities ideally equip him to facilitate a process of exploration and
literary expression of the Iranian American experience. As former students reconnect
with their teacher, through personal exchange and memory, the discourse of two
colliding cultures emerges. The polarized logic is thus replaced with a dynamic
process of modeling human experience back and forth; building identity, reflection