A visit to Iran
Jane at Payame Noor University, Tehran. Foto: Privat.
A visit to Iran, a land of ancient culture, challenges and opportunities. 23 November – 2 December, by Jane Mattison Ekstam.
Ten days of visiting universities, holding lectures and workshops and exploring the ancient cities of Tehran and Isfahan enabled me to see another side of Iran than that presented by the media. The country’s greatest resource is its people, whose generosity and kindness are overwhelming, and whose desire to learn more about the West is visible everywhere, inside and outside the Academy.
University of Tehran. Foto: Privat.
I was fortunate enough to visit The Institute for Humanities and Cultural Studies, Tehran, Payame Noor University, Tehran, the University of Tehran and the University of Isfahan. The warm reception given at all four places was genuine, and the response from the audiences was overwhelming: students, teachers, and professors are hungry for contact with the West. I was asked many questions during and after my lectures and workshops, and many have written to me since returning to Norway.
Institute for Humanities and Cultural Studies, Tehran. Foto:Privat.
The mixture of lectures and workshops, on English as a Lingua Franca, the communicative language teaching model, and academic writing with a focus on literature, provoked many discussions about the future of English, the need for each country to preserve its traditions and culture, and the role of English in academic publication. Opinions are divided in Iran, between those who wish to preserve the uniqueness of their ancient culture and those who recognise the need to communicate globally.
Meetings with Vice Chancellors, representatives of the Ministry of Education (who came to my lectures), and International Co-ordinators suggest that there is both a desire and a need for international collaboration at teacher, student and researcher level.
While there are strict rules of conduct in Iran, there is also a level of toleration (as I discovered when my veil slid off my head during one lecture!). While it is important to be diplomatic, it is perfectly possible to discuss politics and religion. The most dangerous thing in Iran is crossing the road, which should only be done in the company of an Iranian!
It is my hope that more people will travel to Iran, and that we shall see Iranians in our universities. The high level of questions that I received, particularly at the University of Tehran, and the University of Isfahan, bode well for collaboration.
Jane at University of Isfahan. Foto: Privat.