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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After resting from traveling aTeam Challengend the excitement of the first day of camp, we started day two- our first full day of camp.

We started off the day with “Morning Words,” a tradition where campers get to share their favorite aspects and memories from previous or current camp  and reflect on their relationship with this space. Kamran Partovi, a returning counselor, and Nadia Maher, one of our fourteen graduating campers, discussed the theme of the day which was “Who Am I?” and set us off on a positive tone.

Team Activity

Campers participated in a team building challenge.  Various stations were set up around the quad and at each station, campers attempted the activity with a few people giving directions while the others stayed silent. These games consisted of various materials and the objectives were to work together to find a solution. It was great to see campers begin to come out of their shells and show their leadership strengths and energetic personalities. Leaders emerged during the activity and they showed their different leadership styles. During this activity, campers saw the power that everyone’s collective opinion can bring to a space. The challenge tested the campers critical thinking and observation skills and demonstrated that finding solutions was a group effort. It also was a fun way to work together with the other teams of facilitators and rotations.  

In the afternoon, we had a camp wide meditation session which helped reset the camper’s energy after a morning of high heat and an intense morning activity.

Group chant

After a long day of organizing, planning, and anticipation from the rest of community, the campers finally unveiled their group names and skits for the camp. The group names and skits are a long time camp tradition that fosters a sense of team spirit. The team names are always something the campers enjoy coming up with. This year our various team names are Amoo Khabaloo, DJ Kabob,Yakh Breakers, The Headspacers, Barg Be Ostokhoon, Bitarbiat & Boujee, Bad & Jujeh, and the Hameeshehs.

Group Bonding

Finally, we ended our first full day with another camp tradition where some campers performed music, sang songs, and raps during our first jam session of the 2017 camp. What a talented bunch of youth! Can’t wait for the next one.

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Welcome campers!It’s that time of year again!  For days the IAAB counselors and staff have been at the Whittier College campus preparing for the arrival of the campers. Finally yesterday our campers arrived and we could not be more excited to welcome and get to know them!

Our counselors and staff, known as “Red Shirts” because of the red shirts they wear throughout the week, went to LAX airport and picked up our Javan and Ayandeh campers who traveled from near and far. This year, we had campers travelling from as close as Los Angeles and San Francisco, to Atlanta, Chicago, Boston, Orlando, and even as far as Italy which shows the diversity of our community.

Campers and Red Shirts began the day withIce breakers some ice breaker activities to get to know one another. The campers checked into their dorms and had the chance to meet their roommate. The camp is evenly divided between new and returning campers, with many of our many of our Javan graduates joining Ayandeh for the first time this summer. After settling in, campers were welcomed by the counselors performing a short dance. The red shirts, many of whom are alumni of Camp Ayandeh, unveiled their counselor groups and introduced their campers who will be spending the week sharing discussions and meaningful memories. The welcome became a spontaneous dance party.

Group bondingMana Kharrazi, the Executive Director of IAAB, gave the camp community a welcome introduction and went over camp culture and the mission of camp. She explained how this camp is such a unique space because it is an important opportunity for “Iranian American youth to come together at such a critical time.”

Lastly, the campers went to their respective theme halls divided by gender in their dorms and got some rest for the event-filled next day.

We can’t wait to get to know all of the leaders in this space!

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Joint Statement of Iranian-American Organizations on Detentions of Iranians

(New York, NY) – A coalition  of Iranian-American organizations issued the following joint statement regarding the recent detention of Iranians with valid Visas:

“As organizations that represent the Iranian-American community, we are deeply concerned by recent arrests of Iranians visiting and studying in the United States.

At least two Iranians are currently being held in custody by U.S. immigration authorities: Alia Ghandi and Mohammad Salar Fard-Hajian. We implore authorities to ensure these individuals have ready access to legal counsel and insist they be promptly released from custody.

Ghandi, who traveled to Oregon on a valid tourist visa to visit her sister (a U.S. citizen), was refused entry by customs officers and instead arrested and sent to the Tacoma Northwest Detention Center in Washington. Ghandi has subsequently claimed asylum but remains in custody despite an obligation by US authorities to allow her the opportunity to present her case and remain in the US until she is heard.

Mohammad Salar Fard-Hajian, an Iranian student living in Dearborn, Michigan, was arrested at home and is being held in Calhoun County Jail in Battle Creek, Michigan. Fard-Hajian’s roommate believes he was arrested due to administrative errors regarding his college enrollment status.

It is impossible for us to simply write-off all of these events as mere coincidence or misunderstanding in the current climate. The recent spate of official policies and actions – beginning with President Trump’s first executive order to bar entry for Iranians and nationals of six other countries – are deeply troubling. Coupled with recent incidents of hate directed at Iranians and persons of Middle Eastern descent, including recent reports of graffiti targeting Iranians in Portland and San Francisco, a disturbing trend is emerging.

As members of the Iranian-American community, we are active contributors to society who – like all other Americans – are entitled to live in peace and without fear of discrimination. As members of the Iranian diaspora, we are proud of our heritage and have deep connections to our ancestral homeland. We are committed to proactively engaging to protect the interests of our community and the values of this country. We encourage community leaders, lawmakers, as well as the President to take these concerns seriously so that everyone’s rights are protected.”

Iranian Alliances Across Borders (IAAB)
Iranian American Bar Association (IABA)
National Iranian American Council (NIAC)
Pars Equality Center
Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA)

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