March 19, 2015, Washington, D.C. – On March 18, 2014, the Public Affairs Alliance of Iranian Americans (PAAIA) hosted a Nowruz reception for members of Congress and their staff on Capitol Hill in conjunction with Congressman Michael Honda (CA-17th), Congressman J. Randy Forbes (VA- 4th), Congressman Tony Cardenas (CA-29th), Congressman Andre Carson (IN-7th), Congressman Tom Cole (OK-4th), Congresswoman Barbara Comstock (VA-10th), Congressman Gerald Connolly (VA-11th), Congresswoman Donna Edwards MD-4th), Congresswoman Virginia Foxx (NC-5th), Congresswoman Janice Hahn (CA-44th), Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (CA-19th), Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (NY-12th), Congressman John Mica (FL-7th), Congressman Scott Peters (CA-52nd), Congresswoman Jackie Speier (CA-14th), and Congressman Eric Swalwell (CA-15th).
PAAIA’s annual Nowruz reception on Capitol Hill is part of its broader effort to celebrate and foster greater understanding of Iranian culture in the United States. In attendance were eight members of Congress as well as more than a hundred and fifty congressional staff and special guests.
The evening’s program was kicked off by Congressman Honda who highlighted his efforts to introduce legislation (H.Res.156) which recognizes the cultural and historical significance of Nowruz and wishes Iranian Americans, the people of Iran, and all those who celebrate the holiday a prosperous new year.
“I’m proud to introduce the resolution to recognize Nowruz in the US House of Representatives. Nowruz reminds us of the contributions Iranian Americans have made to our country in the arts, government, our military, and our culture.”
A cosponsor to Honda’s Nowruz resolution, Congressman Carson also mentioned the many contributions of the Iranian American community in the United States, and remarked that too few Americans are aware of these contributions. Carson commended PAAIA for being an influential voice of the Iranian American community and urged all Iranian Americans to become more involved in public life.
Congressman Forbes thanked PAAIA for educating America about Iranian culture, and noted that his first Legislative Director, Andy Halataei, was an Iranian American. Halataei is now serving as one of PAAIA’s Public Policy Advisors.
The special guest of the evening, Azar Nafisi, author of New York Times bestseller Reading Lolita in Tehran, explained that Nowruz is a holiday that transcends the boundaries of ethnicity, nationality, race, and gender by celebrating through nature. Nafisi amazed guests with a less well-known fact that one of America’s Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson, regularly drew inspiration from the life of Cyrus the Great as described by Xenophon’s Cyropaedia.
Also in attendance were Congresswoman Edwards, Congresswoman Foxx, Congresswoman Maloney, Congressman Peters, and Congresswoman Speier.
The reception continued until late in the evening. Guests enjoyed Persian cuisine and also had the opportunity to view the elegantly decorated Haft Seen table.
For pictures of this event, click here.
**Correction** A previous version of this article stated that “Thomas Jefferson regularly drew inspiration from the poetry of the 13th century Persian poet Sa’adi.” Azar Nafisi’s speech remarked that Emerson drew inspiration from Sa’adi, while Jefferson was influenced by the life of Cyrus the Great as told in Xenophon’s Cyropaedia.
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