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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Student Profile: Nehgar Mortazavi

Nehgar was coming from an Iranian women’s group meeting when we sat down to chat in Harvard Square. She still keeps strong ties with fellow Persians, as living thousands of miles away from home without your family can be a daunting and culturally lonely experience. Two years ago, Nehgar came to Boston from Tehran to attend college, but also for a taste of what life was like outside of Iran and a chance to escape living at home with her parents. “Why come to America though, why not Europe or another part of the world closer to home?” I asked. “Because America is the land of opportunity,” she replied matter-of-factly. It was nice to hear that this country still has its allure, but the deciding factor was that she has relatives here, as opposed to some place in Europe.

At UMB, Nehgar studies piano as a music major. She mentioned her musical ability almost as a side-note in our interview although she has been playing for 10 years. Truly, Nehgar is a humble and down to earth kind of girl, because it wasn’t until her friend/room-mate Sara showed up that I understood the full extent of her talent. In a touching and candid moment, Sara eloquently exposed her true feelings about Nehgar’s piano playing: “Her talent flows through her fingers and elevates you to a level you have never reached; once you hear it, you cannot get enough of the innate talent of this unique creature.” After hearing this I was moved to tears. Her other talents include pouring a mean cup of coffee which you can experience by making a trip up to the Wits End Cafe in Wheatley, whenever she is working her shift.

Living in America has been an eye-opening experience for Nehgar. What has surprised her most is the level of diversity in this country, which she says has taught her a valuable lesson about people’s ability to coexist in a multi-cultural environment. She was also surprised by how nice people are in Boston, which in turn surprised me (obviously, she doesn’t drive). Unfortunately, she does not plan to stay here forever, as eventually she will return to Iran to pursue her dream of becoming the first Iranian woman in space for the country’s fledgling space program.

Perhaps her presence is needed more in her homeland than here.

Certainly Nehgar represents a progressive wave of reform being pushed by Iran’s predominant youth population. The revolution of 1979 (a populist uprising) brought about an Islamic theocratic government, but also less political freedom. Nehgar represents the possibility of change for the better in Iran, including gaining more freedoms and opportunity for women, and improving Iran’s democracy while at the same time preserving the ideals of the revolution. While she does not see a violent counter-revolution occurring in the future, she does see winds of steady change blowing in the direction of reform within the current political system. Iran, in theory, is a democracy.

Before Nehgar’s return to Iran, we still have at least two more years to enjoy her company. She will be heading up the newly formed Middle Eastern club which will be open to all students wishing for cultural exchange and possibly free food at some point down the line. Hopefully she will make a return to the ski club for the 2004-05 ski season.