Local travelers enjoy Iranian culture firsthand

Pittsford, N.Y. —

For Lynda Howland, traveling the world is the best way to educate herself on public affairs. For Judy Bello, exploring new cultures offers adventure, and quenches a historical thirst.

And while both women are well-traveled and educated, their friends and families were still shocked when they said they’d be traveling to Iran. Friends said “How dangerous,” or “Aren’t you scared?”

Not one bit. There was nothing to be scared of.

“The people in Iran were the friendliest people I’ve ever experienced in all the places I have ever traveled,” said Howland, 67, of Pittsford, whose passport bears the stamps of more than 60 countries.

The pair went on a weeks-long journey to Iran as part of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, an international organization that sends out peace delegates and promotes nonviolent conflict resolution. They returned in June, and since then Bello, 60, of Webster has been hosting educational lectures throughout central New York on Iranian culture.

Both had traveled the country before, on other delegations, but this trip was all about the people. Wandering down city streets in places like Shiraz and Persepolis, taking guided tours of historic monuments, they met families having picnics on sidewalks, picking the fruits off mulberry trees, and reading poetry.

“They’re so incredibly in touch with their own culture,” Howland said. A love of art and study is evident … >>>

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