As a high school student, I knew I could not attend universities in Iran. However, I submitted university applications every year for ten years, and each time I received the same response: Baha’is in Iran are not welcome in higher education. Therefore, I became a student at the Baha’i Institute of Higher Education (BIHE) immediately after high school graduation, and I started teaching and assisting with courses when I was a sophomore. The days I studied in my room alone struggling to understand course material; the days my friends and I shared rare books; the days we painfully laughed because our final exams were confiscated and we had to re-take them; the days we consulted on how to build course syllabi; the days that our professors and administrators were arrested and imprisoned because they were educating us “illegally”; during those days I could only dream that I would complete an M.A. and Ph.D., receive a postdoctoral scholarship, and become a tenure-track professor. However, the BIHE prepared me for an academic career that has taken me to some of the best universities in the world. This Baha’i University is a product of sacrifice and constructive ideas during a period of crisis. My dreams became reality because we shared the desire for education and worked creatively to help each other achieve the noble goal of learning. Today, my teaching and research interests are related to the history of minority groups in the Middle East. I often share my own memories of the Baha’i University in Iran with my students and colleagues, who are inspired by the sacrificial commitment that Baha’is make towards education. I am honored to be a part of this community achievement that is the BIHE.
Assistant Professor at History Department, Willamette University
Associate Director of Yale Iranian History Internet Archives (YIHA), Yale University