How a Solar Eclipse Got Me Interested in Iran

Dear AIC Community,

Unless you are a space geek like me, you might not be aware that the U.S. will experience a total solar eclipse next month -- the first one to occur over the continental U.S. in over 38 years!  If you are in its path (or traveling to see it), I wish you clear skies!

For me, a total solar eclipse elicits memories of my first trip to Iran in 1999 when I traveled there to view the last total solar eclipse of the millennium with a group organized by Search for Common Ground.  The group was comprised of distinguished astronomers, diplomats, and myself – a sixteen-year-old aspiring scientist.  At the time, I thought the trip would propel me to a career at NASA; instead, it led me here, to the American Iranian Council.  During that trip I fell in love with the country of Iran and its people; and now, as Director of Operations at AIC, I believe that my experience demonstrates how intercultural understanding obtained early in life can have an impact years later.

  Pictures from my 1999 trip to Iran, including one of Dr. Alan Hale (of Hale-Bopp comet fame) being interviewed by local media on the bottom left.

Pictures from my 1999 trip to Iran, including one of Dr. Alan Hale (of Hale-Bopp comet fame) being interviewed by local media on the bottom left.

As a result of this early experience, I feel passionately about bringing awareness and understanding about Iran to the next generation of American leaders.  Ideally, our work today can lay the foundation for a more peaceful future.

That is why I am so excited about AIC’s new partnership with the award-winning educational nonprofit organization, ProjectExplorer.org. Together we will send a small film crew to Iran in the spring of 2018 to produce a series of high-quality educational videos about everyday life in Iran that will be shared with millions of school children (and their teachers and families).  

Most students will never get the opportunity to travel to Iran; but – in conjunction with ProjectExplorer.org and its impressive partnerships with schools around the country – we can bring Iran to them as part of their standard school curriculum each year, and show them the “real” Iran and its people.

Unfortunately, we cannot accomplish this without funding.  AIC must raise $75,000 to make this project a reality and we are still far from our target.  If you support this mission, please help fund it!  You can donate on our website today, or email me (stephanie@us-iran.org) with a pledge to donate once travel visas for the trip have been issued.

Thank you in advance for your support.

Sincerely,
Stephanie Lester
Director of Operations, AIC