Day 3 in Iran

Post by Anita Stalter, VP for Academic Affairs and Academic Dean, Goshen College

Anita Stalter, Cindy Byler, Haydeh Ramazan Rostam Abadi and Sally Weaver Sommer

Anita Stalter, Cindy Byler, Haydeh Ramazan Rostam Abadi and Sally Weaver Sommer

It was another interesting day in Tehran — this morning at 10:30 we met with officials from Imam Sadiq University and in the afternoon we were at Allameh Tabataba’i University.  We enjoyed and appreciated the warm hospitality provided by each of these institutions.

Sadiq University is a private university founded in 1983 and specializes in human and social sciences with a focus on an interdisciplinary approach to their programs.  The six areas of study include:  Islamic Studies, Theology and Guidance; Islamic Studies and Law; Islamic Studies and Political Sciences; Islamic Studies and Economics; and Islamic Studies and Culture and Communication.  We learned that the university has successfully experienced collaboration with universities in other countries, including the US, in teaching classes via video-conferencing. We visited their computer center and library and were impressed with their resources in these areas.  A Research Center at the university supports doctoral students in thesis work and also produces publications and books.  There is a separate Imam Sadiq College for Girls that was established in 1991which is administered and taught by women.

One question asked us after we introduced our Mennonite campuses was, “Why peace studies at your institutions?”  Our response centered on the need to follow the teachings of Jesus for active peacebuilding — working on issues of justice, basic human needs, etc. — not just the absence of war.  More dialogue followed along with a wonderful lunch of chicken, rice and salad.

We were a little early for our next appointment so our guide took us to a Farahzad — a calming place with trees, water, tea and seats to rest.  This was a good break for us and we were able to see a different aspect of Iranian culture.

We then took the bus to Allameh Tabataba’i University where we were greeted warmly by the president, deans and faculty.  This is the largest Iranian university specializing in social sociences and was founded in 1893.  The main faculty areas are Literature and Foreign Languages; Economics: Management and Accounting; Law and Political Sciences, Psychology and Education; Social Sciences; and E.C.O. College of Insurance.

Approximately 82% of the students at the university are women.  We learned that one of the major fruits of the Islamic Revolution was the opportunity for women to pursue higher education — especially studying in areas that were previously dominated by men.

Conversation happened on a number of different topics. We discussed the code of ethics that is required by our Mennonite institutions and by their institution — it was clear that there are many commonalities in this area.

Tonight we had the privilege of eating with Dr. Rasoul Rasoulipour, director of the Islamic Culture and Relations Organization — he has been most helpful in arranging and providing guidance for our visit and we are grateful to him.

Throughout our stay here it has been clear that we are all working for many of the same goals.  We have heard a number of times that our presence here in Iran is very significant in building relationships that lead to understanding.

The women in our group are getting used to our clothing requirements — actually it is less stressful knowing what I am going to wear each day rather than trying to figure out some combination of items from my closet to wear to work!

I could write much more but will leave you with the anticipation of reading a blog by Jim Pankratz tomorrow.


One Response to “Day 3 in Iran”

  1. Gwen G-Z Says:

    It sounds like you all are having a meaningful time in Iran. I read your blog with interest. Anita, your comment about how significant it is for you all to be in Iran as a vehicle for increased understanding seems key to me. The more I have found myself in the midst of Iran concerns, the more strongly I have sensed that increased understanding – on all sides – is key to our living as followers of Jesus along side our Muslim sisters and brothers. Power to you as you journey on. May you time in Iran be as fruitful as the fruit stands at the side of the road!
    Gwen G-Z

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