|A Brief History of Persia House
In August 1989, altogether there were less than ten people who established Persia House. Later on, many other community members joined. The first weekend of August 1989 we went to the park and enjoyed the occasion in the name of Persian culture so much that it was decided to register Persia House as a social and cultural organization in Oregon and Southwest Washington. During this process of formulating and forming this organization, an evaluation of real goals and benefits on even a small scale was uppermost. There were no political or religious motivations and no financial resources or support. In fact many had to donate some money to get it started. 0nce our goals were announced, our "success stories" started to develop a good reputation for the newly formed organization. Surprising was that this unity created a special type of energy that permeated the weekly and later monthly meetings at Portland State University. Later, looking back we noticed a very strong bond connecting each other as a great community. This seemed monumental as we had a great deal to share, learn from each other, help each other, and share the traditional ethics of good words (goftar-e nik), good thoughts (pendar-e nik) and good deeds (kerdar-e nik) with our community at large.
Thus in August 1990, when the organization received its official registration number, an invitation was sent to all members of the Persian community and friends of Persian culture as follows:
Persia House is a community based non-profit, non-political [501C (3)] organization for public benefit initiated in March 1989 and registered officially in August 1990. People from different walks of life such as businessmen and women, workers, restaurant owners, and members of different professions such as university Professors and students, physicians, teachers, engineers, technicians, musicians, composers, and artists, came together to assist each other and the Persian community in creating an atmosphere in which Persian culture may be fostered and represented properly. Persia House membership is open to whoever is interested in Persian culture and currently costs twelve dollars a year.
Since then, we tried to do all that we could to help keep Persian culture alive in our community through this organization. Each year, as part of its mission, Persia House hosts several events. In these events, members broaden and deepen their cultural heritage. Newcomers associate with others for raising their families in our community which is offering them hands on learning experiences with their culture, using culture to find meaning in life through literature classes and monthly poetry reading. In addition to our legendary Persian New Year, Nawruz, in March, some of our well-known events are: Persia House picnics that begin with Sizdah Bedar, that is the thirteenth day after Nawruz, and ends with the last summer picnic in August, Persia House Anniversary. We celebrate Tirgan, Summer Solstice Festival in June, Mihrgan, Harvest Festival in October, Yalda, Winter Solstice in December and Sadih, the Discovery of Terrestrial Fire in February. In the February celebration, we read selected lines from the renowned eleventh century epic poet, Firdawsi, who offers timeless and time-tested solutions based on the wisdom of the ages of the legendary heroes of Persia. It is the embedded messages of these heroes that inspire us judiciously and with sound psychological stability and inventiveness to make it through another year and overcome the challenges faced and to be faced in the coming year.
In addition to the above-mentioned activities, since 1989 Persia House, in partnership with other non-profit organizations in the Northwest, has been providing a wide range of cultural, social and employment services to our community. Persia House, with an awareness of needs, problems, and changes faced by Persian refugees and immigrants, has assisted more than 200 youth and families in reaching their full social and economic potential in their efforts to become self-sufficient and a vital part of our community.
Currently, besides social and educational services, Persia house is also a focal point for local Persian and English speaking communities to preserve their cultural traditions. Persia House helps facilitate this by providing culturally appropriate and relevant services from Persian perspectives, which emphasize family unity and strengths and the understanding of American society, culture and service systems.
The second year of Persia House's development was a particularly challenging one. The majority of the students who were volunteer members of Persia House were graduating or leaving the area. In the absence of any volunteer for Persia House, Prof. Kazem Tehrani agreed to become the contact person. After two years working with the bylaws written by Kazem and Diane Tehrani, edited and revised by Persia House founders and interim officers, the first election for the board of directors was held at the winter general meeting in January 1991. The results of the election were Prof. Kazem Tehrani, president, Mr. Bijan Masoumpanah, vice-president, and Mr. Isfandiyar Varzali, secretary treasurer.
After this election, members and supporters of Persia House helped and sponsored not only the above-mentioned events but also a series of public lectures by distinguished scholars in Persian studies from Eastern Oregon State College, Columbia University, University of Texas, University of Washington, Portland State University and Lewis and Clark College.
Thus the year 1991 brought a new force and leadership to Persia House. This development proved essential to the future course of Persia House’s growth and popularity in the years to come. Prof. Kazem Tehrani, who had been involved in Persian Studies for more than thirty years, accepted the responsibility of classes offered, i.e. Persian for English speakers and English for Persian speakers. The Vice President of Persia House, Mr. Bijan Massoumpanah, a graphic designer by profession, volunteered to design a logo for Persia House. Elected officers put together a series of well-organized Persia House meetings at Portland State University, Oregon. Since then, Prof. Tehrani’s resourcefulness and intellectual energy, as well as his ability to generate innovative ideas, combined with the Board Members remarkable vision, discipline and work ethics, paved the way for a sustainable development of Persia House. The subsequent members of Persia House have all sought to carry on that tradition.
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