Like every Iranian kid of my generation whose family could afford a TV, I grew up watching Gilligan’s Island in Farsi on Iranian TV. Not only that, we grew up to know every Disney character of the era, enjoyed watching Bewitched, Payton Place, Lost in Space, Wild Wild West, Flintstones, even Get Smart, all in Farsi.
We grew up seeing every worthy Hollywood production and any worthy European movie in Farsi – and sometimes getting somewhat creative in translations, even in musicals such as the Sound of Music. As a result, when about one hundred of us ended up at a university town in the northeast United States in the early 70’s, we did not feel socially foreign at all. More amazingly, our hosts did not treat us like foreign students, as they did most other nationals.
I recall in many occasions, pure Yankee kids shared with us their frustration with foreign students, criticizing their inability to connect to Americans and to American university life. Us Persians on the other hand, were heavily involved with the campus life clearly standing out, in academics and in athletics, by consistently winning university tourneys in soccer and volleyball.
As for the social and party scenes, the Persians were certainly present. We did not quiet make the “Animal House” form, but we certainly came close in some occasions – always leaving our marks and adding a bit of taste and hopefully some class to the melting pot. On the other hand, tens of thousands of Americans were scattered all over Iran, making good money, and admittedly living great lives.
I recall a great American couple, the Halls from Arizona who lived next door to us. Every summer, they had their children flown to Tehran on their summer vacations from college. The kids did look pretty happy, hence coming back every summer. As for the two governments, they were pretty close and tight, and both enjoyed the economical and political gains from the mutual friendship.
I remember on one occasion, me and a childhood friend drove several hours to McGuire Air Force base in New Jersey, to pick up another childhood friend, a son of Iranian armed forces general, arriving in US on an Iranian military plane. When we got there around 10 pm, we found out the Iranian military plane had a change of schedule, due to arrive no sooner than 10 am the next day. The American military base personnel graciously offered us a room in the officer’s quarters. Try that today!, just how far have the two countries departed?
Back to our university – although about half of us were from Tehran, there was a good variety of kids from all over Iran. The only thing in our mind was to get an education and enjoy America and the American way of life, while the next to last thing in our minds was not to go back home, and to stay and live in America. What was the last thing in our minds you ask?
It was for Iranians we left back in Iran to be fooled by Khomeini! I later found out the majority was actually not fooled, they just chose to sit idly aside and watch the events unfold. Events for which Iran is paying dearly, even today. A revolution which has taken us back centuries, threatening to hurt the population even more, unless Iranians wake up from the deep trans inflicted upon them by the mullahs and their supporters.