Sadaf: “Like every other student association, the Iranian association of TU Delft was impacted by Covid. When activities weren’t allowed and events were only online, it was difficult. For two years the activities kind of disappeared and there were new students who had no idea about the association. Then when the Mahsa Amini movement happened a lot of Iranian people saw each other at protests. We then realised there was an existing association (formerly ISSTUD) and decided to become candidates to start doing activities again. I am currently the Commissioner of External Affairs.”
Nima: “And I am the President. Going back to the recent movement in Iran, we realised that within TU Delft there was not as much activity as we would have liked regarding the human rights issues. We wanted to do something for the purposes of contributing to the betterment of the world and standing behind the people of Iran both there and here. We wanted to try and revive the Iranian student association to contribute as best we can for both TU Delft as well as for diversity and inclusion. We also want to be a voice for the people of Iran, whose human rights are being stepped on by the tyrannical Islamic regime, and the students that have been arrested and hurt.”
Sadaf: “During the protests we didn’t feel a lot of support from TU Delft itself, if I compare it to what happened in Ukraine where there were a lot of TU Delft initiatives. But when it came to Iran, we had to organise things ourselves and even faced challenges with getting permission because they considered it more of a political issue. It really is a human rights issue. We decided to register as a legal entity so we have more power as an association to represent the Iranian community, which is not a small one.”
Nima: “I was very surprised about how many non-Iranian people showed up to the protests. It was amazing and that gave us more ideas. Imagine how much bigger this would be if we planned it as an association and not just a bunch of people. One thing that was really important to us is connecting the Iranians not only with each other but with people from other cultures and backgrounds as well. So, we decided to rebrand the association and we felt like this transition would make us more approachable. We chose the name Alborz because it gives some insight into the country of Iran and might spark conversations. Alborz is a mountain range where you can go skiing, even though Iran has two well-known deserts, home to one of the hottest places on Earth.
‘Because of the recent events in Iran, people have been feeling a lot of stress’
For the Iranian new year, Nowruz, we have a big event planned on 20 March. We invite people from all backgrounds to join us. Currently, we are working on the promotion material for it, which can be found on our Instagram and LinkedIn pages soon. And on 8 March for International Women’s Day we are planning to do something alongside what DEWIS is doing. That’s important to us given that there’s a women-led revolution happening in Iran. We also just started something new which is a recurring group therapy session to help people with reducing stress. Because of the recent events in Iran, people have been feeling a lot of stress. We feel it amongst our board members and amongst our friends.”
Sadaf: “Talking about this subject to non-Iranian people is very difficult because they can’t imagine the magnitude of what’s happening in Iran and how it will affect you and how difficult it is to go on with your normal life. For example, you have deadlines, you have exams, and then you hear your cousin is arrested and has been missing for three weeks. It’s impossible to understand. But you have to continue or else your visa will expire. There is a huge need and we were very lucky to find a very experienced Iranian therapist who was willing to do this voluntarily.
We had the first session and the reception was amazing. It would be great if we could get additional support from TU Delft to be able to do this a bit more regularly. Next month we will host a coaching workshop for success in the job market of the Netherlands. It’s really about bridging the gap of cultural barriers.
We are from a collective culture and we might not be as proactive or don’t want to stand out in general, especially people from engineering backgrounds who tend to be more reserved and quieter. The success rate for Iranians in the academic environment is very high, but in job searching it’s low because certain skills related to culture haven’t fully developed.
We found an Iranian job coach in the Netherlands and asked him to create a tailor-made workshop for Iranians to help fill those gaps. It’s more tailored for people from middle Eastern countries but it’s open to anyone. Our main goal is to build a community where Iranian students can go, even for practical questions. And because we live in a free country here, we want people in the LGBTQ+ community to feel like it’s a safe space for them as well.”
Nima: “Given what I have seen from the Iranian community, I think there are great things ahead. I think there is great potential for more collaboration between Iranians and other cultures. I feel like our job with Alborz is taking something that was decent and trying to make it better. One could apply the same philosophy to other things in the TU Delft community as well to make a positive contribution. Through our efforts and endeavours, we hope to make this community a bit stronger and more impactful while indirectly helping the people of Iran as well by being their voice here.”
- Other board members of Alborz are Ali Khatami (Vice-president), Aram Rostamnejad (Secretary), Bahareh Abdi (Treasurer,) Khashayar Modaresifar (Commissioner of Internal Affairs), Amirhossein Deljouyi (Commissioner of IT) and Sara Azizian Amiri (Commissioner of Logistics).
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