“Being Persian is part of my history and being an American is part of my identity, and the two are irretrievably inter-mixed, like and egg that once scrambled, you cannot separate the yolk and the white. America is my country and Iran is my Homeland. and how blessed I am to be rooted in an ancient civilization with a rich culture, and at the same time a proud American living in this young nation that has lifted me on her shoulders, allowing me to reach for the stars.”
On a starry night on April 21st, 2017 in East Cobb, POOIA proudly played host to the extraordinary man who expressed above sentiments through his beautiful words, none other than the world renowned NASA scientist who is responsible for the amazing success of the Mars exploration project: Dr. Firouz Naderi. Generous Iranian-Americans came to listen to him and in the process contributed to help the Persian Language Program at Georgia Tech.
The evening was a wonderful amalgamation of notions near and dear to Dr. Naderi’s heart: the universe, science, the evolution, space, Mars, the future of our plant, humanity, humility, and above all, our Iranian identity. He masterfully conveyed complex scientific notions in easy to understand terms and created a powerful and empowering perspective on life, the world which should compel us to fulfill our shared duty to the future generations while realizing our own dreams.
Over the course of history, Dr. Naderi’s homeland, our beloved Iran, has been attacked, conquered, occupied, dominated and decimated by foreign powers and cultures, and yet it has somehow managed to maintain its unique identity as the keeper of the rich inheritance of the Persian civilization and Persian Empire, and still stands tall to boast about Cyrus the Great as the author of the first declaration of Human Rights twenty-five centuries ago.
And we still stand today proud of our identity because of a man who put his life as collateral to purchase, or shall we say, to create an Identity Protection policy for his nation. That policy was a document named Book of Kings (Shahnameh) and that man, known as the Homer of Iran, was Ferdowsi. He spent thirty years of his precious short life to preserve the Persian language.
Dr. Naderi cares deeply about his Iranian identity and understands the importance of preserving our language in our new habitats in order to protect our identity. Language is the key to the identity of an ancient civilization and to uncovering its treasures such as Khayam, Saa’di, Hafez, and Rumi. Without the Persian language literacy in the West, Edward Fitzgerald would have never been able to replicate the beauty of Rubaiat of Omar Khayam in English, Goethe would have never idolized Hafez, and, Hollywood would have never fallen head over heels for Rumi’s poetry.
We at POOIA are deeply grateful to Dr. Naderi who graced us with his presence, elegance, and intelligence to enlighten our minds and enrich our lives. An interview with him will appear in the June issue of Pardis.