July 13th was the last full day of Camp Ayandeh 2017.

The morning began with the Red Shirt versus Campers vasati championships. With some team work and motivation, it seems the red shirts remain undefeated! Later in the afternoon, the campers had a Civic Engagement activity where they collaborated and practiced their leadership skills. We had a guest workshop by former camper and counselor Rodd Farhadi where the campers made videos on a societal issue and later presented them at the evening ceremony. The final workshops of the evening were age based workshops on skills such as time management and college readiness.

We had the chance to interview two of our graduating Ayandeh campers who have been a part of the IAAB family from the first year of Camp Javan in 2012, Navid Bajoghli and Nadia Maher. Navid told us the following:

I recommend Camp Javan and Ayandeh because it is an experience campers take to heart and they will learn more about their Iranian/American community identity. Campers will learn to embrace who they are as a person and will make close bonds with people in 10 days on a level that can take years for others to achieve back at home.

To hear their thoughts, click below:

In the evening, we had our Camp Ayandeh ceremony where each group announced their campers’ superlatives. We also honored and celebrated our graduating Ayandeh campers. The evening was filled with our final jam session, including a special performance of the unofficial “camp song” Age Ye Ruz or اگه یه روز, and a dance party that went into the night.

After an eventful final night, the next morning our campers departed to the airport and were picked up from Whittier. Although camp 2017 is over, we can’t wait to see everyone in the ayandeh!

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On July 12th we had Dr. Niaz Kasravi, founder and director of the Avalan Institute and expert and advocate on criminal justice, social justice, and racial justice issues, as a special guest at camp. She covered various topics such as Iranian American identity and social justice issues like Black Lives Matter and criminal justice reforms. Campers shared that they found it very inspiring. We had an opportunity to speak to Dr. Kasravi after her presentation and ask her a few questions.

 

Campers

Campers also participated in a fun Team Challenge group activity which was a scavenger hunt across the campus. At each station they had clues which took them to the next stop. Success in the team challenge required communication, critical thinking, leadership skills, and fun!

Campers 2

In the afternoon, campers had gender talks, discussions divided into groups based on gender and age group. Gender talks give campers the opportunity to bond with their peers and talk about issues that impact them.

In the evening, we had another round of Iranian cultural workshops including topics such as women in Iran, Iranian dance, Iranian film, and Iranian poetry and literature.  In our Iranian dance workshop, Bandari and Azari dances were taught and excerpts from the Shahnameh were shown in our poetry and literature workshop. Campers shared that they enjoy learning about the various aspects of Iranian culture that they don’t always get to learn in school and also had fun while doing so.

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On July 11th, we said goodbye for now to our Javan Campers as they headed to the airport and were picked up from Whittier College. Their amazing energy will be missed. We can’t wait to see them again next year! 

Our Ayandeh campers continued their camp activities by participating in Iranian diaspora and American history workshops where they learned about the histories of their various identities. Campers were able to use references to movies, music, and media clips to learn about history and diaspora in various creative ways.

Two of our returning counselors, Sam and Arman, led an engaging workshop on gender and sexuality and the LGBTQ community. Sam and ArmanIt was amazing seeing campers ask important questions, explore identity, and talk about allyship towards other communities.

One camper stated, “The workshop was very enlightening because it opened my eyes to topics I hadn’t learned about and wasn’t aware of. We learned about how LGBTQ people could use support from other groups and being a minority myself, I know it is always important to do that.”

Overall, it was a wonderful day filled with learning, critical thinking, and community building!

 

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The past two days have been aScience whirlwind of fun and learning for our Ayandeh and Javan campers. On July 9th, campers and counselors focused on the overarching theme of “Where do we come from?” in workshops and activities. Campers discussed the past, current, and future state of the Iranian-American community, with counselor groups setting goals for the values and cultural components they hope to maintain as leaders in their future communities. Campers also had an opportunity to enjoy the sunny California weather and felt the collective group energy by playing a few games of vasati during the day. While Javan campers  considered their role in developing a strong camp community, Ayandeh campers participated in workshops about media representation. Arian Jadbabaie, a camp alumni and counselor who is a current doctoral student in Physics at Cal Tech, led an exciting and engaging workshop for campers that included an interactive science experience. Arian’s workshop “Jadbab the Science Guy” at Camp Ayandeh and Camp Javan is part of an initiative to incorporate STEM curriculum for Iranian-American youth.

Vasati July 10th was filled with various Iranian cultural workshops such as film, dance, music, and games. Campers also had a chance to learn modern Iranian history during the history workshop. A annual tradition of campers versus red shirts vasati game was also held during the day which is always a camp favorite!

This day was the Javan campers’ last full day. We had a chance to interview one of our returning Javan campers, Sam Rahbin, about his experience at Camp Javan. Check it out below:

The evening ended with the Camp Javan ceremony where the campers were honored and presented with various superlatives by their counselors. The campers also performed skits that they had prepared early that day. After the ceremony, campers enjoyed a surprise kabob meal in celebration of camper Ida’s birthday and ended the night with more talented performances during the jam session.

We are so proud of our Javan campers and while we are sad to see them leave, we were blessed to have gotten to know them and welcome them to our IAAB family this past week.

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Today was filled with excitement and surprises! We had two guest speakers come to Camp Ayandeh and Camp Javan: Maz Jobrani and Ahmad Kiarostami.

First, comedian and actor Maz Jobrani was given a huge welcome by the camp community. The campers chanted “Maz bayad berakhse” or “ماز باید برخسه” and he enthusiastically joined in on the fun! This chant is used throughout the days by campers, whether in the dining hall at mealtimes or at the dorms, to welcome people into the space.

Maz shared stories about his life and how he got to where he is in the entertainment business and comedy. He encouraged campers to pursue their passions and to “do what you love, find what you love.” He also discussed growing up as an Iranian American in the United States in the late 1970s and 1980s all with a sense of humor and jokes, as per his style.

In the afternoon, we had distinguished entrepreneur and artist Ahmad Kiarostami, son of prolific filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami, give the camp community a presentation. He showed us two music videos he directed, two of his father’s early films, and also talked about his career path.

He introduced the camp to a music video activity where the campers had two hours to shoot and edit their final music videos. We debuted the campers’ videos at the end of the evening.

Music Video 1The night ended with another jam session where new and returning campers sharing their talents. Parsa Lajmiri started the session with a passionate piano piece. Omeed Soltaninassab sang a beautiful song from a musical called Chess and received a standing ovation. We also had a special santoor performance by Shervin Najafi.

The jam session transitioned into a dance party- the entire room was filled with campers and red shirts jumping up and down to Bandari music! The energy in the room was amazing! This day was definitely one for the memory books.

 

Ahmad Kiarostami visits IAAB.Follow IAAB on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to keep up with the action throughout the week!

 

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