1. Why did IAAB create the YAR Institute?
As relations between Iran and the West, specifically the US, are opening, IAAB is in a unique position to be the first national Iranian-American organization in the US to undertake this trip given its previous work in Iran. As the foremost organization in the US that engages and empowers Iranian-American youth, IAAB is also the organization best positioned to develop a program that will give our community's youth a critical understanding of Iran away from nationalistic propaganda.
IAAB’s mission to strengthen the Iranian diaspora community through leadership and educational programming is at the crux of the YAR Institute. Over the last eleven years, IAAB has built a positive and inclusive environment that allows young Iranian Americans to develop leadership skills, foster strong friendships and gain a deeper understanding of their Iranian-American culture and identity. IAAB recognizes that the Iranian-American community is diverse and vibrant, a characteristic that IAAB represents, embraces, and celebrates in its ethos and in every program. IAAB therefore develops innovative programs that invite young Iranian Americans to reflect on their shared history and their place in the Iranian diaspora, and with this new program, to build a critical understanding of the community’s roots in Iran.
The YAR Institute aims to connect young Iranian Americans to and situate in Iran’s rich and complex history, and to guide Fellows in developing innovative media and transmedia projects that narrate a new and more complex understanding of Iran within the United States.
2. Who leads the YAR Institute?
Narges Bajoghli, IAAB's co-Founder, will lead the YAR Institute as its Director with the support of IAAB's Executive Director, Mana Kharrazi. Narges Bajoghli is a PhD candidate in socio-cultural Anthropology at New York University and a documentary filmmaker in NYU's Culture and Media Program. Narges’ research focuses on the cultural politics of post-war Iran, and was awarded four national dissertation research grants, including the National Science Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, The Wenner Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, and the American Institute of Iranian Studies.
She is the director of the documentary film, The Skin That Burns (2013, distributed by Film Media Group), about survivors of chemical warfare in Iran. The film has screened in The Hague, Hiroshima, Jaipur, Tehran, and in the U.S. (New York, New Orleans, New Jersey, Chicago, and Irvine), at festivals and university campuses.
Narges received a Susan Knafel Fellowship to be a researcher at the University of Tehran’s Faculty of Law and Political Science in 2004, and since then has spent the greater part of the past ten years living and working in Iran. Narges has worked with the private sector in Iran, as well as with a variety of NGOs, and has organized a variety of programs for IAAB in the past, including: seminars, workshops, and art exhibitions. IAAB’s Bam and Beyond Seminars (New York and Tehran) were groundbreaking in their ability to bring together all major NGOs in Iran and in the Iranian diaspora that worked on earthquake relief in Bam. IAAB also created Project Connect, an online database for young Iranians in diaspora who looked for volunteer opportunities in Iranian NGOs, businesses, and universities. IAAB’s art exhibition, Transform/Nation (2007), was the first exhibitions since the 1979 Revolution that was held simultaneously in Tehran and Washington, D.C.
Narges is a contributing writer to The Guardian, Middle East Research and Information Project (MERIP), The Huffington Post, and IranWire. She has also appeared as a guest commentator on Iranian politics on DemocracyNow!, BBC WorldService, BBC Persian, and HuffPost Live.
3. What is IAAB's YAR Institute?
IAAB's YAR Institute is a year-long fellowship program designed for advanced college students (third and fourth year), graduate students, and recent graduates. The YAR Institute includes virtual courses taught by leading Iran scholars, a three-week winter study abroad program in Iran that will take place in January 2016, as well as one-on-one mentoring that will hone Fellows' expertise and result in the production and release of transmedia projects and op-Eds. Knowledge of Persian is not necessary as all lectures and meetings in Iran will be translated into English.
YAR Fellows will participate in virtual courses during Fall 2015 taught by leading Iran scholars in the United States who will critically engage YAR Fellows with topics around the political, social, cultural, and economic developments of Iran since the 1979 Revolution. YAR Fellows will learn about the social, cultural, political, and economic developments of post-revolutionary Iran. Fellows will gain an in-depth understanding of the historical trajectories of the 1979 Revolution, war, and post-war period.
YAR Fellows will participate in a study abroad program in Iran. As a part of the winter trip to Iran, YAR Fellows may participate in a weekend training session with IAAB staff in New York. The weekend-long training session will help prepare and equip Fellows with necessary skills and guidelines for the study abroad trip in Iran. YAR Fellows will also connect and get to know each other and IAAB staff traveling with them to Iran. YAR Fellows and IAAB staff will then travel together to Iran. While in Iran, Fellows will participate in discussions with leading Iranian academics, meet with cultural activists from all spheres of Iranian society, and visit important sites in Iran in order to gain a better understanding of the multi-faceted layers of Iranian society. Visits in Iran will include, but are not limited to: Tehran University; Art University; meetings with veterans, women’s rights activists and students; workshops with civil society activists; discussions with various professionals including entrepreneurs, private sector leaders, scientists and medical students; and tours of art galleries with artists.
4. What will Fellows be expected to do as a part of the YAR Institute?
Fellows will be expected to participate in all aspects of the Institute including:
-Attending all virtual courses held in the Fall 2015 semester as a part of the Institute, completing all related assignments and readings on time, and actively participating in discussions.
-Participating in all programs and lectures during the winter study abroad trip in Iran to be held the end of January 4th-24th, 2016.
-Developing transmedia projects that will be released to the public by Summer 2016. Details for transmedia projects, as well as one-on-one mentorship, will be discussed in full upon selection as a Fellow.
5. Who will supervise the students to Iran and in Iran?
IAAB's YAR Institute Director, Narges Bajoghli, and Executive Director, Mana Kharrazi, will supervise the Fellows on this trip, along with a certified tour guide agency in Iran. Narges is the co-founder of IAAB and has also spent the better part of the past ten years living, researching, and working in Iran. Narges is intimately familiar with the ins and outs of Iran and has a vast network assisting IAAB throughout the duration of the Institute. Mana Kharrazi has worked extensively with students and has directly led many of IAAB's youth and student programs.
6. How can I apply?
Please visit the Application section.
7. Will family be able to contact Fellows during the summer trip to Iran?
IAAB will ensure communication between Fellows and their families throughout the duration of the study abroad trip in Iran. IAAB will provide families with all contact information for those traveling with Fellows during the trip, including the IAAB's YAR Institute Director and Executive Director.
8. Where will the Fellows stay throughout the Iran trip?
Fellows will be traveling throughout the country and staying at hotels. All hotel names and details will be sent to Fellows and their families in the fall semester.
9. How much is the tuition for the YAR Institute?
YAR Institute's tuition is $5000, which covers:
- Enrollment in Fall 2015 virtual courses on Iran with leading Iran experts;
- All expenses in Iran (traveling inside the country, hotels, meals);
- One-on-one training, mentoring, and certification post trip for the creation of media projects.
This tuition does not include:
- Flight to Iran.
IAAB strives to make its programs financially accessible to any interested participants. Therefore, payment plans and scholarships will be available. Once selected, Fellows will discuss with IAAB staff payment plans that work best for Fellows and their families.
10. Will there be tuition assistance available?
IAAB is currently securing financial support for tuition assistance for fellows. IAAB will also provide tools on how Fellows can raise associated funds such as air travel in order to minimize any financial constraints.
11. Do Fellows need an Iranian passport in order to apply?
It is not required that applicants have an Iranian passport, but it is preferred because it makes the bureaucratic process easier for getting into Iran. Once Fellows are selected, IAAB staff will work with each Fellow to ensure all paperwork is in order for the trip to Iran including applying to Visas.
12. Do Fellows need to know Persian in order to participate in the summer trip to Iran?
No, knowledge of Persian is not necessary. All lectures and talks will be translated into English.