Stephen Shaffer, studied Farsi at New York University while pursuing his master's degree in Near Eastern Studies in 1992-95.
In his contacts with Iranian friends, Shaffer, a 24-year-old from Long Island, New York, developed a keen interest in their culture, despite Iran's anti-American and fundamentalist image — an image which weighs heavily on the minds of Americans.
A month ago, he traveled to Iran, a rare opportunity for Americans these days. He visited Shiraz, Isfahan and Tehran. He also traveled to Shomal, along the coast of the Caspian Sea.
This is the first of a series of articles that will appear in The Iranian.