A New Moon Brings New Hope
Jennifer B-C Seaver (Iran 1966-68)
While Jews celebrate the New Year, Ramadan, or Ramazzan, as it is known in Iran, begin tonight when religious leaders observe the new moon. For the next lunar month, Muslims around the world will observe the holy month of mourning, one of their five pillars of faith.
This morning I watched The Today Show’s Matt Lauer reporting live from Tehran, the capital of Iran, in instant communication with his colleagues back in the United States. Once more I dreamed of a time when I'll be able to show my husband the country I once called my adopted home.
Five years ago, I was part of a group of RPCVs who traveled there under the auspices of the Carter Center’s Friendship Force International. During our ten-day excursion, we spoke to many people, reunited with a few old friends and formed friendships with strangers. We saw that two thirds of the population is under the age of thirty and therefore never knew the Peace Corps presence throughout their country. Nevertheless, like Matt Lauer, we ran into many who were curious about us and anxious to talk to us.
I am saddened that as long as there is continued animosity between
our two governments and no diplomatic relations, travel between Iran and the USA remains difficult.
Four decades ago, when I taught English, I usually wore conservative
clothing by American standards although I never wore a chador. I complained in 2002 about having to wear a headscarf and manteau (overcoat) in the oppressive heat of late summer. I wish the conservative government currently in power had not reverted recently to a strict observance of a dress and morality code. At that time, we had hope that under the former leader, Iran was beginning to open up to the west.
But I still see some signs of encouragement. Boys and girls are being educated. In fact, more women than men enroll in higher education. Unlike Saudi Arabia, Iranian women drive, vote, hold public office, and work outside the home. Soon, I hope, we can join together in a common call for peace and freedom in the near future.