Reflections on the week in Iran

Post by Cindy Byler, MCC Rep for Iran

Cindy and Daryl Byler in Isfahan (Jim Pankratz photo)

Cindy and Daryl Byler in Isfahan (Jim Pankratz photo)

I am grateful for the opportunity to have spent an inspiring week visiting Iranian universities – along with leaders from six Mennonite universities in Canada and the United States. We visited some schools we have met on previous visits, but also expanded the network to include many new contacts in Tehran and Qom.

We were warmly welcomed and blessed with amazing Iranian hospitality at every step of the journey. In nearly every meeting there was enthusiastic interest for developing collaboration for student and professor exchanges, academic conferences, joint research projects and teleconferencing.

I was again impressed with the value that Iranians place on education, community and family – as well as the cultured, gentle and principled manner that is characteristic of so many Iranians.

I especially enjoyed interacting with more women on this trip and now better understand life from their perspective. One of my favorite visits was to a women’s university in Qom. We had opportunities to hear about their vision and programs and to tour the campus. The university makes it a priority to accommodate the needs and schedules of its students. Many, including international students from a wide variety of countries, live in a dorm. Others commute. Day care is provided for mothers with young children, and the university is expanding its scope of education to include kindergarten through secondary school for children of students. Correspondence courses are also available. As funds become available they hope to build two new dorms as well as additional classrooms.

Sally Sommer Weaver (right) with students at a tea house in Isfahan

Sally Sommer Weaver (right) with students at a tea house in Isfahan

Another highlight for me was the stop at the traditional tea house in Isfahan. People sit all around the sides of the shop sipping tea and eating rose water-flavored ice cream. The tea house was bustling with activity and the patrons were friendly and curious to know who we were and where we were from. It was fun to experience this small slice of Iranian life.

We now pray and hope that this trip will bear much fruit and increase the people-to-people connections between Iranians, Canadians and Americans in the years ahead.

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