The educational event included remarks by activists and community members.
On Jan. 31, Upper School students gathered on the 21st Street Campus sports court for an assembly hosted by the Persian Student Union. The event featured special guests Maryam Zar, Mana Shooshtari and Rad Nowroozi, and addressed recent worldwide protests for civil rights and freedom in Iran.
In response to the widespread protests in Iran following the tragic death of 22-year old Mahsa Amini at the hands of the government’s morality police, the Upper School Persian Student Union (PSU) wanted to educate the Crossroads community. “The purpose of this assembly is to provide everyone with context about the situation and information on how to help,” said Crossroads ninth grader and PSU member Darian Khajavi. “We need our local officials to condemn the Iranian regime and we need to continue to make people in Iran’s voices heard—enough is enough.”
Maryam Zar, the parent of a Crossroads ninth grader, shared her personal story as an Iranian American woman who grew up in a secular Iran and has seen the nation transition into a theocracy. Maryam has worked as an advertising executive as well as a correspondent, editor and producer covering Iran for news organizations and started Womenfound, a nonprofit dedicated to advocating for women.
“[Like Mahsa], I’ve been pulled off the street at 25 years old,” Maryam told the assembled students. "I thought I was doing exactly what they wanted me to do, but I was pulled into one of those vans, and understood the fear. These protests are not about women anymore; they’re not about hair anymore; they’re not about hijab anymore. This is now a fundamental cry for change and civil rights all across Iran. That movement of protest has percolated to where we’re now willing to call it a revolution.”
Mana Shooshtari, a first-generation Iranian American, works as the field and communications director for the Grassroots Democrats HQ. She became involved in politics as a young person, when she began to see a rise in Islamophobia and xenophobia after the 2016 election. Rad Nowroozi works as a district representative for California State Senator Ben Allen, who co-sponsored resolution SCR6 in solidarity with the people of Iran protesting for their civil rights. Rad says his activism began in college when he started using his social media channels to support the civil rights movement in Iran, which is often represented with the hashtag #WomanLifeLiberty. Both Mana and Rad urged students to get involved by using their voices to initiate positive change.
“I encourage you all to utilize your personal social media, but also think about how you can utilize your own personal talents,” said Mana. “You can write a song and post about it. …You can write a poem or an op-ed. There are many ways you can utilize your own personal talents to bring light to this revolution.”
To close out the assembly, Crossroads senior and PSU member Layla Fakki encouraged students to stay involved. “By amplifying the Iranian voices that are suffering right now, you are part of the movement to establish basic human rights for women,” said Layla. “Don’t let this become a conversational trend that dies down. Keep the movement alive and keep yourselves educated.”