Ladies, imagine having your father choose the person you marry without you having any say about it. Nahid Rachlin, author of the award-winning novel, “Persian Girls,” spoke about this issue, along with many other cross-cultural topics on Feb. 25 at UVU.
Those unable to make it to the event can make up for about half of it by reading Rachlin’s book, which is a memoir that reads like a novel and describes her life in and out of Iran.
Rachlin spent the first 30 minutes reading passionately in her Iranian accent directly from her book. During the course of the reading, she drew fascinating comparisons and contrasts between American and Iranian culture.
“I practically ran from home. I wanted to pick my own husband,” she said. “I value freedom of choice more than anything.”
Many students walked away from the event feeling grateful for the country in which they live and the freedoms they enjoy, but many of those students also felt a stronger need to explore other cultures with a more open mind, open eyes and understanding. Being a part of such a dominant culture can leave Americans without the desire to consider and relate to the rest of the world, and according to Rachlin this can become a substantial problem.
Students enjoyed questioning Rachlin about foreign policy, international relations and politics. “Americans make horrible mistakes with foreign policy,” she said. “They don’t understand other countries’ cultures. I hate foreign policy.”
During a discussion about the United States and its relationship with the Middle East, Rachlin pointed out the need for Americans to be more culturally aware.
Rachlin discussed with students how Americans think they rule the world and they can change anything, but before taking action outside American soil it is necessary to understand the cultures of others to enable all those involved to work better together.
It was a culturally enlightening experience for those in attendance. Each individual found ways to appreciate and connect with Rachlin and her story.
“I loved the way she described her writing” said Jeff Root, an English major at UVU.
Others could understand Rachlin’s position on a more immediate level, being from more similar cultures.
“I was able to relate with her experiences,” said Luma Al-Awajneh, a student from Jordan who also enjoyed the event.
Rachlin enriched those who heard her inspiring words. Every American seeking to expand their worldview would do well to read her book and thereby become more acquainted with Iranian culture, both its virtues and vices.