Past News Articles
Join San Jose State University Persian Studies for the first-ever "Cultures of the
Iranian Diaspora"-- a two-day conference featuring panels on visual arts, literature
and film with Bay Area and nationally-acclaimed writers, artists and filmmakers. The
conference also features two special events: "Inja o Oonja: Stories from Iranian American Life" -- a staged adaptation of three short stories from Tremors: New Fiction by Iranian American Writers on Friday, April 11 (7 pm, Le Petit Trianon Theatre, 72 N. 5th Street-free and open to the public) and "Filmmaking in the Diaspora-- A Screening and Discussion Babak Sarrafan's "Doosteh
Hameshegy--Forever Friends" and Mo Gorjestani's "Refuge" on Saturday, April 12, (7 pm, SJSU Student Union Ballroom- free and open to the public). To register for conference byApril 7 (which includes two days of panels about art, literature, and film as well as lunch both days) go to:http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/581896 or call: 408 924-4476. See attached poster for full schedule of events.
Learning About the Persianate World
February 27, 2014
Persis Karim, Director, Persian Studies, email@example.com, 408-924-4476
SAN JOSE, Calif., – The Persian Studies Program at San Jose State, with support from the Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute, will
hold the third annual Norouz concert to celebrate the arrival of spring and the Persian
New Year on Sunday, March 9, from 3-5 p.m. in the Student Union Barrett Ballroom.
This event is free and open to the public.
Musicians Mahvash Guerami, santour, and Hossein Massoudi, vocals, as well as members
of the Bay Area Iranian American Children’s Choral Group will perform classical and
folk Persian music to commemorate this important Persian holiday, which falls on March
20, the spring equinox. A tea and sweets reception will precede the performance.
The Persian Studies Program will host its third annual Norouz concert.
Rich Culture, History and Heritage
SJSU’s Persian Studies Program was established in March 2011 with funding from a grant
from PARSA Community Foundation and received a generous three-year grant from the
Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute to continue the work of educating the SJSU community
about the rich culture, history and heritage of the Persianate world.
Since 2011, Persian Studies at SJSU has offered courses in beginning Persian through
the World Languages department and has hosted numerous lectures with scholars, film-screenings,
musical events and book readings. The Norouz concert on March 9 is a wonderful opportunity
to share a meaningful holiday with classical and folk music of Iran.
"Many people in the larger Silicon Valley community look forward to this event and
the idea that SJSU has created a tradition each year,” said Persis Karim, director
of Persian Studies.
This semester, Persian Studies hosts lectures on “Jews of Iran,” and an upcoming lecture
on April 2 with SJSU’s Dr. Katherine Richardson from the Department of Geography,
who will share her research on “Iranian American Technology Leaders in Silicon Valley.”
Iranian Diaspora Conference
The first-ever “Cultures of the Iranian Diaspora Conference,” made possible with the
support of the Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute, will take place April 11-12, 2014,
at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library. The conference will feature panels by
visual artists, writers and filmmakers, as well as the play, “Inja o Oonja: Stories
from Iranian American Life,” adapted by SJSU Theater Arts Professor Matthew Spangler
from three short stories by Iranian American writers. The play will take place on
Friday, April 11, at the Le Petit Trianon Theater (72 N. Fifth St., San Jose).
The first-ever “Cultures of the Iranian Diaspora Conference,” made possible with the
support of the Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute, will take place April 11-12, 2014.
The conference will also feature a film screening and discussion of two films by Professor
of Theatre Arts Babak Sarrafan and San Jose native Mo Gorjestani on Saturday, April
12, in the Student Union Barrett Ballroom. Information and registration for this conference
and these two evening events can be found at Brown Paper Tickets.
Additional information is available on the Persian Studies Program website and Facebook page.
San Jose State — Silicon Valley’s largest institution of higher learning with 30,000
students and 3,850 employees — is part of the California State University system.
SJSU’s 154-acre downtown campus anchors the nation’s 10th largest city.
This article was originally published on SJSU Today. Click here to view it.
January 15th, 2014
Meet Naciem Nikkah--SJSU'S Dynamic Persian Language Instructor
Novemver 2nd, 2013
When you first meet the new Persian language instructor, Naciem Nikkhah, you might
miss an important detail that she wants you to know: she grew up in Iran and feels
very connected to Iran even though she speaks English like a native of the United
States. Even though Nikkhah was born at good Samaritan Hospital in San Jose, she lived
her formative years (age 2-17) in Iran. When she speaks, Nikkhah has only the slightest
hint of an accent which is all the more surprising since she learned English only
when she came to the United States at the age of 17. Actually, Nikkhah refused to learn
English in Iran and thought "everyone knows English" and then decided to teach herself
Italian because she thought was the language of art, culture and the great traditions
of culture to which she hoped to one day belong. "Half my heart lives here and half
my heart lives in Iran," said Nikkhah smiling.
Nikkah grew up in Sari, a city in Mazandaran Province in the north of Iran after her
parents returned to Iran in 1986 during the height of the Iran-Iraq War. Although
her father's family was from this region, it was because of the bombings of the cities
that her parents decided to move to the north. There, instead of attending a regular
high school, she attended a special school dedicated to the arts. After graduating
from Bessat Art School, she was selected by the school to design a supply store for
art students at the school. This led to another job for Nikkhah when someone asked
her to design a building for a private high school in Sari. She drew the initial plan,
but never got to see the physical execution of her design. She left Iran to come to
the US to study at the university, and not surprisingly, returned to her other home
in San Jose, where she began taking classes at De Anza, and later transferred to the San
Francisco Art Institute where she completed a BFA in photography. Shortly after completing
her BFA, she interned at the San Francisco Arts Commission Gallery and helped to organize
the first-ever photography exhibition of Iranians to the United States. She went to
Iran to help select the work that would later adorn at the San Francisco City Hall.
After graduating in 2008, Nikkhah started working at Heald College advising students
in academic planning. In 2011, she started a master's program at SOAS-University of
London, in art history with an emphasis on Iran. Her passion for art and art history
is part of her general appreciation for the culture of Iran, and one of the most important
things she enjoys sharing with her students. Although she has been teaching at San
Jose State University only since the fall semester, we are fortunate to have such
a passionate and enthusiastic language teacher. She believes that the best way to
learn a language is to be exposed to and appreciate the culture from which that language
springs. One of her hopes for her SJSU Persian language students is that they one
day get to see Iran for themselves so that they can appreciate the splendor and beauty
of a very old culture that carries that beauty in so many ways--including in the daily
expressions that people speak.
October 18th, 2013
Dear Friends of SJSU Persian Studies:
Next week, October 30th, we will have Torange Yeghiazarian, director of Golden Thread
Productions, the Bay Area's preeminent Middle East Theatre Company at San Jose State
University. Ms. Yeghiazarian will be speaking about her work writing and directing
plays with Middle Eastern and specifically Iranian themes. Her talk, "Changing the
National Conversation on the Middle East, One Play at a Time," will be held in the
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library, Wednesday, October 30th at 7 pm, room 255 in
the library (150E. San Fernando Street). Part our fall series of public lectures about
Iran and the Iranian Diaspora made possible with a grant from the Roshan Cultural
Heritage Foundation, Ms. Yeghiazarian will discuss her work as a playwright and specifically
her new play "444 Days" which opened in San Francisco on October 17 and continues
through November 3rd at Z Below (470 Florida St, SF). The play tells the story of
a Laleh, an Iranian revolutionary, and Harry, a diplomatic attaché who meet for the
first time in 25 years after having seen each other last during the hostage crisis
at the US embassy in Tehran. Join us for a riveting discussion about the role of theater
in changing attitudes about the Middle East.
Click here for viewing the poster.
Dear Friends of SJSU Persian Studies:
Welcome back to fall! Happy Mehregan!
The Persian Studies program at SJSU has had a good start to the semester, with a wonderful
lecture with Professor John Lee (UC Santa Barbara talking about the Cyrus Cylinder
and the contributions of Achaemenid Persia) at the beginning of September. We wanted
to alert you to two very exciting events coming up in the second week of October:
To mark the 60th anniversary of the 1953 coup that overthrew the democratically-elected
Prime Minister of Iran, Mohammad Mossadegh, we've invited Professor Kurosh ValaNejad
of University of Southern California (USC--Animation and Illustration) who will be
sharing his fascinating animated video game about this event titled, "The Cat and
the Coup" that employs some of the latest animation technology. He'll be with us on Tuesday,
October 8th at 7 pm in the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library.
That same week, Thursday, October 10th at 7 pm, in the MLK Library, Meghan Sayres, editor of Love and Pomegranates: Artists and Wayfarers on Iran will share this brand new anthology with SJSU audiences. The collection which includes
prose nonfiction and poetry will be read by a number of local authors including Azin
Arefi, Brian Appleton, Farnaz Fatemi, and Jasmin Darznik. Join us for an evening of inspiring stories inspired by the beauty of Iran and Iranian
Both events are free and open to the public. The library is located at the corner
of East San Fernando and 4th Streets.
Mark your calendars for October 30, at 7pm in the library. We'll be hosting Torange
Yezhegarian, director of Golden Thread Theater Productions. She'll be sharing some
of her involvement with dramatizing the Iranian diaspora and sharing the stories of
the Iranian community. Her play, "444 Days," opens in the Bay Area October 24th and
she'll be talking about it at SJSU.
To check out the posters for these events, click here.
July 27th, 2013
$300,000 Gift for Persian Studies
SAN JOSE, CA - The Persian Studies Program at San Jose State University will continue its mission to educate students and promote
Iranian culture and Persian language for the next three years through a generous grant
of $300,000 from the Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute. The grant has been awarded
to Persis Karim, principal investigator and professor of English and comparative literature
within the College of Humanities and the Arts. The funds will support language instruction,
cultural events, lectures, faculty research and scholarships as well as a conference
on the Iranian Diaspora culture in 2014.
The program directors include Karim, who also serves as coordinator of Middle Eastern
Studies, and Shahin Gerami, professor of interdisciplinary social sciences and coordinator
of the Women’s Studies Program. Both Karim and Gerami welcome the opportunity to expand
the Persian Studies Program, which was initiated in 2011 with seed money from the
PARSA Community Foundation. SJSU made an appeal for private support to establish a
Persian Studies Program and was granted a generous $200,000 grant from the PARSA Community
Foundation during the 2010 Mehregan grant cycle. These donations recognize the importance
of teaching Persian language, as well as introducing Iran’s rich heritage to university
Iranian Diaspora Studies
Because Silicon Valley is home to California’s second largest population of Iranian
immigrants and their second-generation children, the Persian Studies Program increases
participation in the emerging field of Iranian Diaspora Studies; it also supports
students and scholars engaging with Iran and its diaspora community. A conference
about the Iranian Diaspora is set for spring 2014, when the program will invite scholars
to share information and experiences about California’s Iranian-American communities
and the rich contributions they are making to American society.
“We couldn’t be more pleased about the Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute’s support
for Persian Studies at SJSU,” said Karim. “This generous gift establishes a precedent
for academic programs, research and public outreach that serves both a student population
and a community that has roots in Iran, but that is contributing to and innovating
the culture of Silicon Valley. By offering courses in Persian and presenting lectures
and programs about Iran and Persian culture, we can engage more constructively with
a country that too often is seen only through the prism of negative media headlines.
And we can recognize the ways that the Iranian American community is evolving.”
Evolution of a Community
With previous support, the Persian Studies Program developed lecture events, scholarships
for students, and initiated an oral history project titled Iranian-American Voices of Silicon Valley: Evolution of a Community. The project will document the lives, histories, and stories of this community. Since 2012, the
Persian Studies Program has been offering language courses that are a mix of interested
students of Iranian descent, those with Iranian spouses, and those who expect to use
Persian language in their careers. Assistant Professor of Geography Kathrine Richardson
will use research money from this grant to initiate a study of Iranian Americans in
Silicon Valley’s high-tech industry.
Although Persian Studies has conducted a preliminary survey to gain insight into the
Iranian-American community in Silicon Valley, numerous cultural and educational events,
and musical concerts to celebrate Iranian holidays, the Persian Studies Program aims
to build further relationships with the community and to learn more about how we can
serve, support, and develop SJSU’s innovative program.
A Norouz Celebration
To further signify its commitment to the community, a Norouz celebration with master
santour Player Mahvash Guerami and vocalist Hossein Massoudi will take place at 3
p.m. March 10in the SJSU Engineering Auditorium 189, with a tea and sweets reception
at 2:30 p.m. This free and public event, which includes a poetry reading by Iranian
American poet and translator Mojdeh Marashi, and Afghan American poet Najia Karim,
will inaugurate a new year for the growing program, and offer its gratitude to the
Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute and its Chair and founder and President Elahe Omidyar
The original article can be viewed through the following link: