Forum for improvment
Defining an agenda on paper is far easier than implementing it in real life. To implement it in real life, friendships have to be formed and cliques must disappear
December 7, 2006
University of Maryland's Iranian Students Foundation Mission Statement: To preserve the Iranian Culture within our community, as well as uniting those with similar interests and backgrounds. In addition, we would like to raise the campus' awareness towards our culture and teach non-Iranians about our culture and history.
Promoting the mission statement listed above, is an extremely difficult task. Before progress can be made where members (and officers) of ISF stubbornly work towards promoting the Iranian culture, an over-haul of the organization must be made. I made the suggestion to Rana Rabei -- to create a new Iranian organization at UMD -- because I don't believe it's within ISF's power to promote the agenda as defined.
HOWEVER, Nazanin's words have given me new hope and perhaps in the future, we as old officers and members of ISF can work with ISF's current officers and members to formulate a plan to create an organization that can promote the above agenda.
Before we embark on this, however, we have to realize the social dynamics at ISF and the difficulties in bringing students of different walks to follow the same agenda. Creating an organization that needs to work towards promoting a cultural agenda is very difficult, because culture itself loosely connected. There's the food, the sports, the politics, the arts, the history, the education, the society... and much more. How are all these connected? And further, how do you organize a group that is supposed to promote enough of each of these items to entertain everyone? Here is a scenario that illustrates the inherent difficulties:
On a Wednesday night, the Persian Studies Center has organized an event where local Iranian artists visit the UMD campus and discuss their work with anyone who wants to hear them. Two members of ISF, Goli and Ali, are intellectually worlds apart, but both decide to go to the event with other members of ISF.
Goli is a bio-chem major and she loves art and culture. She adores Rumi and knows The Shahnameh by heart (impossible!). Ali on the other hand is an economics major and he despises art and everything related to culture. While Ali pays no attention to Esfahanian architecture or Vigen, he loves the fact that due to rising oil prices, upper class Iranians have seen a sudden increase in disposable income.
In the course of the night, one Iranian artist discusses the new trend of Iranians purchasing more and more expensive art work. Up until now, Ali has been bored out of his mind -- suddenly, he has an epiphany and he speaks up about it: "Perhaps the increase in income is related to the increase in purchases of certain art work." This statement sparks a conversation between the artist and all listening at the time, including Ali and Goli.
Soon after, Ali starts to appreciate art and Goli starts to appreciate the wonderful dynamics of economics. Beyond forming a long lasting friendship, the two fall in love and live a great life. How great economics truly is!...errrrrr I mean, how great Culture and ISF are! (By the way, I graduated with an economics degree).
So, why in the world did Ali decide to attend an event for which he has no interest? THIS, is what we need to figure out. This is what needs to be discussed by all interested in ISF's future, because this is the key to unifying the various minds at ISF so that ISF's agenda can be promoted.
Defining an agenda on paper is far easier than implementing it in real life. To implement it in real life, friendships have to be formed and cliques in ISF must disappear. Officers and members must work more closely together and members, NOT officers, must plan events. Every voice must be heard and ideas should be commonplace. ISF should also work very closely with other Iranian student groups in the area.
Beyond promoting "Shabeh Ylada"s (both ISF and UMBC's Persian Students' Association are sponsoring one this year), each student group should be organizing a single event each season and all other groups should be attending those events (perhaps UMBC does Shabeh Yalda one year, ISF does Mehregan, George Mason does Norouz, etc).
In the mean time, each group should be coming up with new cultural events and members from each campus should be congregating at a different campus every week to attend a different cultural function. Something like this would do wonders for our community... but, it's something that needs great work and leadership.
Just a thought of what could be... Comment
Nezam Rabonik, ISF's Vice President of Finance 05-06 school year and member since 2004.