August 1, 2005
Below is an article about my daughter in our local newspaper in
New York early July 2005. I thought you may want to posted on your
site. Thanks, -- Seyed Hosseini
Coming of age after 9/11
Croton grad overcomes taunts to make a difference
by Adam Stone
Imagine this: You're a fun-loving teenager. You consider yourself
an American above all else. Your parents are Muslim, and you are
brought up that way, but you're only mildly religious.
Then, on a sunny Tuesday morning, a group of lunatics crash two
jetliners into the Twin Towers.
Some of your peers dub you a "terrorist."
Welcome to Azade Hosseini's freshman year at Croton-Harmon High
"I was perceived differently," Hosseini, who moved
to Croton when she was 13, recalled. "At some point I just
told them, 'This isn't cool.' They got the message."
Now, four years later, Hosseini has graduated from that very
Instead of growing bitter, Hosseini, 18, continued to immerse
herself in her two great - and intertwined - passions.
Travel and politics.
She has traveled extensively to the Middle East with her parents.
Hosseini's Turkish mother, Hurriyet, leans to the political left,
while her Iranian father, Seyed, leans to the right.
"They never tried to indoctrinate me politically," she
said. "They want me to think for myself."
Of what she has learned from her travels, Hosseini said, "people
think the Middle East is dangerous, but a random stranger will
feed you, or just give you help. On TV you only see the bad things."
Tracking politics and current events by itself is rare for a
teenager, let alone getting involved in the process.
Hosseini has participated in protests against the Iraq war, campaigned
for Hillary Clinton in 2000 and has attended political rallies,
such as one for Amadou Diallo, the Bronx man who was shot and killed
in 1999 by four New York City police officers.
But it was Hosseini's formation of her high school's Humanitarian
Aid Club that truly impresses.
This is how she tells it:
"In my junior year of high school, I was introduced to
the Heifer Foundation by my father.
This is an organization that raises money to buy livestock for
people in developing nations so that they may learn how to help
themselves, an ideal that immediately captured my attention. Rather
than just handing out money, this organization gives communities
around the world a chance to earn a living, eat and learn how to
operate as a team by using the resources of the animal.
"Anyway, this idea led me to start the Humanitarian Aid
Club at my school, which was somewhat based on the ideals of the
Heifer Foundation. Essentially, HAC was dedicated to creating awareness
among the student body on issues that are both indirectly and directly
facing us today. We raised money for emergency relief causes as
well as international, community-based projects, such as the tsunami
relief, sending books to schools in poor communities, actually
building a school abroad, etc. Mainly, the purpose of the club
was to create awareness, which I think was a success."
Think that's heady stuff?
"My hope is to someday work on cures to some of the most
problematic diseases of our time and also to work with developing
nations by not only trafficking much needed pharmaceuticals to
those countries, but also making them affordable to people, such
as AIDS victims," Hosseini said.
In the fall, she'll be attending SUNY Buffalo, entering a PhD
program in pharmaceutical and bio-chemistry.
Since she was a baby, Hosseini has been to Turkey eight times,
Iran eight times, France twice, Italy, Sweden, Denmark and Mexico
twice, among other destinations.
This summer, she will be traveling to Denmark, Morocco and Spain.
" My parents have taught me the importance of traveling
by taking me all over the world," Hosseini said. "They
wanted to teach me to tolerate and respect other cultures, because
ultimately, the way you see the world is how you will treat your
Hosseini, like the rest of her graduating class, came of age
during the immediate aftermath of 9/11.
It was the first month of this young woman's freshman year of
high school when her world - our world - was forever changed.
She was in her earth science class. She was taking a test. She
heard the news.
" During the first week of my freshman year, September 11th
happened and it changed my life forever," she said. "'What
a great way to start my high school career,' I thought. Being a
Muslim, which is by the way a very small minority in Croton, everyone
looked at me a bit differently after the tragic event. Although
it didn't bother (me) much that people treated me differently,
it slowly built up over time to the point where my closest friends
were slowly fading away. (It) bothered me when friends would 'jokingly'
call me names that referred to the past events, but I just kept
telling myself that they could never understand and they were saying
these things maybe to release anger or confusion.
" Instead of getting mad, I decided to educate them about
my religion and my background.
During the holy month of Ramadan, surprisingly, a bunch of my
friends wanted to fast with me. And even more surprisingly, they
actually lasted the entire 30 days. I think this was an act that
not only proved that my friends supported me, but it also showed
that they were willing to learn about other cultures and religions."
There's another date on the calendar that surely carries with
it great meaning to Hosseini: July 4.
After all, as she put it, "I think of myself as an American
Who's your Iranian of the day? Send