From Dateline (October 9, 2003)
CSUF and Iranian Cultural Center
Work to Provide Persian Language Classes
For years, Cal State Fullerton has prided itself on
offering a wide range of programs representing our diverse population.
This fall, a new language offering was made possible through a collaboration
with the Iranian Cultural Center of Orange County. Because of these
efforts, students are now able to enroll in Fundamental Persian
101, a four-unit class.
“Both Cal State Fullerton and the Iranian Cultural
Center wanted to find a way to introduce the Persian culture to
Americans, as well as teach Iranian-American students – many
of whom have lived their entire lives in the United States –
about the Persian language and culture,” said Touraj Daryaee,
professor of history. “In fact, we have about 1,000 students
of Iranian descent at Cal State Fullerton and about 200,000 Iranian-Americans
live in Orange County.
“Unfortunately, many of the perceptions Americans
have of Iran or Iranians are what they see on the nightly news,
and often, political references to Iran are pejorative,” noted
Daryaee. “For this reason, offering a language class seemed
like a way to reach out to the community.”
But how do you do that in a tough budget situation?
The state budget didn’t allow for adding a new language course.
But as luck would have it, members of the Iranian Cultural Center,
a group that seeks to preserve and advance knowledge of Persian
language, literature and culture, approached Daryaee. They agreed
to provide funding for a beginning class in Persian. Although original
plans were for one section to be offered, the course’s popularity
necessitated offering a second section. Each class can accommodate
up to 25 students.
“For many years, we have been encouraging the
Iranian population of Orange County to reach out to their neighbors
and help them better understand our culture,” said Daryaee.
“Classes such as this link our young people back to their
culture and open up our culture to those who may not be familiar
with it or may have a negative attitude.”
“We are delighted to work with Cal State Fullerton,”
said Maryam Molavi of the Iranian Cultural Center. “We are
looking for ways to connect not only with each other but with the
community as well.”
In the future, both Daryaee and Molavi would like
to see additional classes offered. This spring, Daryaee will begin
teaching a course in ancient Persian civilization. (The university
currently offers Medieval and Modern Near Eastern history.)
To support the new courses, the Iranian Cultural
Center has developed fundraising programs including the recently
held concert of Persian music featuring the Black Cats. Other fundraisers
will be held throughout the year to support these programs.
“Providing courses such as this demonstrates
Cal State Fullerton’s commitment to diverse cultures,”
said Daryaee. “Working in conjunction with the Iranian Cultural
Center makes these types of programs possible. We all benefit –
we can introduce Persian culture and language to a wider audience,
and students have an opportunity to study a different language.
“These kinds of community collaborations help
ensure that our goals of enhancing diversity and providing an academically
challenging environment can be maintained.”