Washington DC Passing The Torch of Success Videos

Empower, Enable, and Educate Our Community 

Christiane AmanpourJanuary 25, 2012, Washington, D.C. – PAAIA invites you to view videos from the Washington D.C. Passing the Torch of Success event held to a sold-out crowd at the Lisner Auditorium of the George Washington University.  The videos highlight the guests who, individually and collectively,  instilled a sense of pride in the Iranian American community and served as role models to our youth. 

The videos of the guest  segments are preceded by two videos of the preparations that went into presenting the event as well as a highly inspirational and empowering video in which each of the speakers address their comments to the younger generation of Iranian Americans.

The first guest, renowned international journalist and the Global Affairs Anchor of ABC News as well as an anchor and Chief International Correspondent at CNN, Christiane Amanpour, shares stories of her rise at CNN and how she routinely addresses the challenges of remaining objective, empathetic, and honest in the pursuit of truth.  As she discusses her career over the past two decades, she advises the younger generation that they have to “start at the very bottom and not be afraid to put everything that is necessary into that journey towards your dreams. If you don’t love what you’re doing, you won’t be good at it. Find a passion and a mission.” 

In his video, Dr. Nariman Farvardin, former Provost and Vice President at the University of Maryland and the current President of the Stevens Institute of Technology, talks about the sacrifices that had been made by his parents to ensure that he received the education that would allow him to pursue his ambitious career goals. He sprinkles his comments with stories of his own life as well as quotations from other well-known individuals such as Winston Churchill, Alan Simpson, Daniel Burnham, Tennessee Williams, and Dante. He comments that, throughout one’s life journey, it is important to “put integrity first, dream big, not be afraid of failure, make friends, and be courageous.”

In the third guest video, two individuals who have committed themselves to the well-being of this country share the stage as they are interviewed by National Nex Gen leader, Amir Bagherpour. 

Faryar Shirzad, former Assistant Secretary of Commerce and former Deputy National Security Advisor to President George Bush comments on his journey from being a lawyer to currently serving as the Global Head of the Office of Government Affairs for Goldman Sachs.  Shirzad explains to the younger generation interested in pursuing a career in public service that there is a heavy burden of responsibility to bear.  “In business, you are accountable to your shareholders,” he says. “In the government, you have a responsibility to the people you serve. The excitement and privilege of public service brings a heavy burden of accountability that you must carry when you stand there in the room at the table on behalf of all of the American people.”

In his comments, Ramin Asgard, Director of Voice of America, Persian News Network, mentions that his entry into public service almost 20 years ago was the end result of a meandering path that included science, academia, and law.  “Today, I meet a lot of young people who have an idea that they want to work in the government and with PAAIA’s Nex Gen and Mentorship Programs, there are lots of folks like Faryar and I who can help the younger people find their path.”

In her interview, Anousheh Ansari, the first female private space explorer, Ansari talks about her decision to pursue space travel and the personal sacrifices that it entailed on her and her family’s behalf.  She advises the younger generation to “work hard at maintaining [that] vision and communicate that vision to others. You need to have compass that allows you to track you path. Sometimes that compass is your values, or your team members, or your family.”

Dr. Pardis Sabeti’s video begins and concludes with examples of her work as the lead singer of the rock band, Thousand Days.  Dr. Sabeti, Professor at Harvard University,  describes how the Iranian Revolution had forced her family to move to the United States and how her parents had worked with her sister and her to enable them to assimilate into the American culture.  “We should thank the parents in this room,” she says in her segment. “They made it possible. They endured so much so we wouldn’t. They made us think that there was so much possibility in so much despair.”

In his segment, Dr. Vali Nasr, scholar, academician, author, commentator and Senior Obama Advisor speaks directly to the younger generation of Iranian Americans in the audience. Dr. Nasr talks about how working hard, committing oneself to a goal or objective, and persevering despite inherent challenges is the only way of succeeding.  He notes that success and failure come hand in hand and that Iranian Americans have the ability, the skills, and the resources to be among the most successful populations in the US.   “If there is a value that defines the Iranian-American community, I would think it is hard work and commitment to excellence,” Dr. Nasr says. “They have served us very well at the individual level, but it is important that we think that going forward they should define us as a community.”

The video of Dr. Firouz Naderi and Ms. Nazie Eftekhari closes the program.  In the video, Eftekhari, Founder, CEO, and Chair of HealthEZ and Dr. Naderi, the Director for NASA’s Solar System Exploration, use a question and answer format to not only provide information on PAAIA but also give the audience a glimpse of their lives and experiences.Both Dr. Naderi and Eftekhari proudly talk about how their Iranian heritage had impacted who they are today and what they have achieved in both their personal and professional lives.  “I love this country. Why shouldn’t I?” Dr. Naderi says. “It has given me, certainly professionally, the opportunity to do all the things that I would not have been able to do in other places.”  

He adds what is true for every one of the hundreds of Iranian Americans who were gathered in the auditorium.  “I love this country. At the same time, how can I not love Iran?” he asks to tremendous applause. “I love the history of that great culture. I feel that the two have shaped my character. I don’t look at myself as an American. Nor do I look at myself as an Iranian. I look at myself as an Iranian American and am proud of both of them.”

Ms. Eftekhari closes the program by sharing a chant with the audience: 

If I stand, you stand.

We will all stand.

If I sit, if you sit, 

Who will stand for us?

Join me in standing with PAAIA for the Iranian American community.

PAAIA encourages you to view these empowering videos and share them with your children, family, and friends.

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