The year is 1981 and a bloody war is raging in the Persian Gulf between Iran and Iraq, 8,000 miles away. The mad dictator of Baghdad, Iraq has invaded his neighboring country in the hope of achieving his long awaited dream of annexing the oil rich province of Khuzestan and becoming an oil superpower. This is no ordinary war and the invaded country, Iran, is not an ordinary country. A proud nation with several millennia of history, which a year ago had concluded a revolution, has been in the throng of internal turmoil. The armed forces’ purges have weakened its formerly formidable military powers. Holding forty-four American diplomats as hostages has brought it worldwide condemnation, and it must cope with widespread embargoes of all imported goods, especially the much needed military hardware.
What the country has in abundance are the innocent teenaged boys who are recruited by the new revolutionary rulers to serve at the war’s front lines. These young boys, mostly under the age of fourteen, with a plastic key hanging from their necks, are promised immediate entry to heaven if they run in the minefields laid by the enemy. They are blown apart by the thousands as they blindly follow the instructions of their misguided and increasingly desperate elders.
It was in the midst of this horrific slaughter that I received a call from a distraught, but concerned father who wanted to save his only son, twelve years old at that time, from the certain fate that awaited him. The caller was my brother who had been teaching with his wife at the Iranian school in Kuwait for the past three years. He had received a notice from the Ministry of Education to immediately return to Iran with his family.
My brother and his wife were ready to go back and continue with their teaching at home, but they wanted to know if they could send their son away on a temporary basis? The wish and aspiration of my Atlanta born wife and I, as it was with many other Iranian ex-patriots, was to save as many children as we could, and obviously we had no objection to do that for my nephew, Navid. The arrangements were made and Navid arrived in New York in late March of 1981 holding a tourist visa. I greeted him there and we flew back to Atlanta that evening. A week later he was enrolled in a local junior high school in mid session hoping for the best.
Southern United States, with its unique culture of hospitality and tradition of family closeness similar to my own Iranian culture, was the ideal second home for my young wife and our daughter Nastran. However, during the time of the hostage crisis, prejudice raised its ugly head and made life difficult for our family. Navid, with his outgoing personality and generous nature, could not understand why some of the students at school were so cruel and shouted insults at him.
In one particular episode, he was accosted at the bus stop on the way home from school and a group of bullies gave him a bloody nose. Some young people in our neighborhood destroyed our mailbox and painted insults on our driveway. My wife had to visit the school repeatedly and held many conferences with the school counselors and the principal to calm things down and provide a semblance of security for our young student. To Navid’s credit, he never lost his resolve to keep trying during this difficult time. He learned quickly to keep his sight on the future and what he could become.
To ensure his long-term status in the States, my wife and I decided to proceed through legal adoption. This was another sacrifice for his parents as well as my young wife who was concerned about providing a loving home for all of us, but the end result was all that mattered to everyone concerned. As he progressed through high school, Navid became a model student and achieved his Eagle rank in the Boy Scouts of America. He and I built a playground for the community as his Eagle project and he became a camp counselor, helping other young boys achieve their goals.
Navid also enjoyed playing soccer throughout his high school years and became a coach and mentor to young players. When Navid left us and went on to college, my wife and I knew that he would succeed. He always had the requisite drive and determination, even in the face of adversity. We also knew that his parents’ sacrifice was not in vain. Giving up their only son was the ultimate sacrifice, but it was the only way that Navid could achieve his potential. This was not the only hardship that his father endured. Upon learning that his son was not brought back to the country, he was summarily discharged from his teaching position and forced into early retirement.
Today, that twelve year old boy has triumphed into David Nour, a successful international lecturer, businessman, and author. He is also a loving husband, father of two beautiful children, and a respected authority in the subject of business relationships. Following his many business articles and workshops for multi-national corporations, he has just published his first book, Relationship Economics, and is in the process of completing his second book on the subject. For all those other sacrificial lambs of twenty plus years ago, one can not wonder but what might have become of them if they only had the opportunity!!!??
Ken & Jan Nourollahi
Atlanta, Gorgia, USA
David Nour, Managing Partner of The Nour Group, Inc., is a social networking strategist and one of the foremost thought leaders on the quantifiable value of business relationships. He is a consultant and a featured international speaker for corporate, association and academic forums. A native of Iran, David came to the U.S. in 1981 with a suitcase and no fluency in English! Fast forward 25 years and he has built an impressive career of entrepreneurial success, both within large corporations and early stage ventures >>>
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