By Roya Soleimani
July 21, 2011, Washington, D.C. – The electricity and energy in the air was contagious as thirteen people with thirteen different personalities and backgrounds came together for one vision and one goal: to make an impact on our communities. In June 2011, history was made at the inaugural meeting of the PAAIA NexGen National Organizing Committee—a national leadership body comprised of some of the best and the brightest young Iranian Americans across the country. Hosted with the gracious hospitality of PAAIA Board Member, Mrs. Forough Hosseini and her family, the National Organizing Committee gathered in Daytona Beach, Florida. Their mission was to set vision into action and to plan for the expansion of NexGen across the country.
The idea for NexGen came in 2008 from PAAIA Board Member Dr. Firouz Naderi and the vision is now truly being transformed into a reality. As an impactful Iranian American organization, PAAIA is now more focused and dedicated than ever. It is providing the next generation of Iranian Americans with the support, resources, and information they need to best achieve their potential as individuals and as a community.
- Build an influential national network of outstanding young Iranian Americans enabling them to form long-lasting relations that benefit them individually, collectively, empowering them to push agendas that benefit our communities.
- Celebrate our heritage, culture, history, and develop a sense of generational pride.
- Build a civic-minded community that gives back to America as it has given to us.
- Reach out and partner with other organizations to build a broader asset base to leverage on synergistic objectives.
Amir Bagherpour and Avid Boustani are the founding members of the NexGen National Organizing Committee. They worked countless hours in conjunction with the PAAIA Board and Ms. Niloufar Kargar in preparation for this groundbreaking meeting. Amir believes that “the retreat is a significant milestone towards the beginning of a substantive impact for our community.” As a new resident to Washington, DC, Amir and the DC NexGen chapter will play a significant role in the planning of the national NexGen launch event that will be held on September 17th. “The DC event will provide the first opportunity for NexGenners to meet and collaborate on community building on a truly national scale by bringing people together from the various chapters right before the Passing of the Torch event in our nation’s capitol.” He added, “This will be a true opportunity to make an impact while also having fun and making new friendships.”
Avid Boustani echoed these sentiments and noted, “The retreat was a formidable and necessary step in the formation of PAAIA NexGen.” As one of the founders of the National Organizing Committee with Amir, he shared how “it was inspiring to witness the sheer talents, diverse backgrounds, and infinite potentials gathered in one location; it’s apparent that we have all the ingredients to bring about profound impact in our generation.” Avid and Amir spearheaded the weekend meetings. The new committee members each formed teams to discuss the vision, programming, website development, community organizing strategies, community service projects, and more. They pieced together their talents, perspectives, and experiences to form a beautiful mosaic for NexGen’s future.
PAAIA Board Member, Mrs. Forough Hosseini and her family were the wonderful hosts of the NexGen National Organizing Committee retreat, and throughout the weekend she observed that, “watching the NexGen committee work diligently and tirelessly throughout the weekend to detail their mission and goals to bring all the young Iranian Americans together, building on PAAIA’s successes, warmed my heart.” Mrs. Hosseini and the PAAIA board showed their proven passion for the next generation of Iranian Americans as they shared their insights, ideas, and hopes for our plans. Mrs. Hosseini concluded by saying, “seeing first hand during the retreat as how PAAIA can affect lives of all Americans of Iranian heritage, whether born here or in Iran, made it evident that PAAIA is indeed an organization that can impact and benefit all generations.”
There are currently both PAAIA chapters and PAAIA NexGen chapters in the San Francisco Bay Area, Chicago, DC Metropolitan area, Houston, Los Angeles, NY Tri-state area, Orange County, and San Diego. The NexGen National Organizing Committee includes young Iranian American leaders from each chapter. PAAIA NexGen is officially launching nationwide this summer, and will bring together core chapter members from across the country during the weekend of the Passing the Torch of Success event that will be held in Washington, DC on Sunday, September 18, 2011 from 3:00pm-6:00pm at George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium. NexGen chapters will host several national membership drives, so keep an eye out for an event near you!
Upcoming nationwide community service events for the year will include participation from all NexGen chapters for the National Day of Service on September 11, 2011 and the Martin Luther King National Day of Service on January 16, 2012.
While many of us had never met in person before the retreat, we left Daytona Beach united with a bond that will only grow stronger. As Avid shared at the close of the retreat, “The next step is to focus on establishing strong foundational roots for PAAIA NexGen. For example, we ought to formulate a sustainable logic as we expand NexGen network nationwide to make sure we capture and retain the energy, excitement, and momentum along the way.