A Special Opportunity for Travel to Iran

By Carolyn Yale

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January 8, 2016

To:       Members and Supporters of the Peace Corps Iran Association

From: Carolyn Yale

PCIA President

Greetings. The Peace Corps Iran Association starts 2016 with a special project: promoting travel to Iran through a program offered in partnership with the National Peace Corps Association (NPCA). We invite you to join the first trip (May 19 – June 2, 2016) and also to help us get the word out. The trip schedule and itinerary follow this message.

Beyond the opportunity to visit some of the premier regions of Iran, this NPCA-PCIA tour has a unique dimension: We would like to tell the Peace Corps story associated with places on the tour. NPCA enlisted PCIA as a partner in planning this tour because many of our members can speak from experience as volunteers. We also have members who have traveled more recently in Iran and can share their stories and photos. In short, there are two ways you can support this project:

              • Register for the tour. Knowing from inquiries that we have many members interested in travel in Iran, here is your opportunity: This tour is run through the highly-regarded organization Global Exchange, which has offered tours to Iran for several years. If you decide to register for this tour, and were an Iran Peace Corp volunteer, we encourage you to be a “cultural ambassador:” Share volunteer experience and appreciation of Iranian culture with the other travelers. In advance of the tour, PCIA will help by preparing background material on the Peace Corps legacy.

To find out more about the tour and register, go to the National Peace Corps Association website: http://www.peacecorpsconnect.org/resources/next-step-travel/iran/.

Note that the deadline is February 5, 2016, so please don’t delay.

              • Second, tell us about recent trips: For those of you who’ve been to Iran in recent years, you can promote the trip by sending in photos and short written highlights. (Please refer to places relevant to the NPCA trip itinerary.) This material will be used by PCIA/NPCA for promotion on our websites and outreach announcements. Formats and other instructions are appended. To make the best use of this material for the coming trip, we would like to hear from you as soon as possible – no later than 1/15/2016.

This project is an opportunity to refresh our Peace Corps values – to promote understanding across the ‘divide’ that has for too long cut the people of the United States off from the people of Iran.

On behalf of the PCIA Board, we hope you will be able to participate.

If you would like more information, please don’t hesitate to contact me at carolyn@peacecorpsiran.org.

TO HELP PROMOTE TRAVEL IN IRAN, please send to: carolyn@peacecorpsiran.org.

              • Statements (a favorite experience, reasons to visit Iran, for example). In Microsoft Word,

3 lines will do.

              • Photos from recent travel in Iran: High resolution, JPEG.

THE TRIP: BRIDGE TO IRAN: INTO THE HEARTLAND

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May 19 – June 2 (arrival in Tehran on early morning flight from Europe – departure from Tehran)

Travel from Iran’s modern capital, Tehran, into the region of Fars to embark on a journey that introduces contemporary Iran from the perspective of the people and their culture and history. The tour by bus includes overnight stays in Tehran, Shiraz, Yazd, Isfahan, and Kashan.

This trip was designed in partnership with Peace Corps Iran Association (PCIA), an affiliate group of the National Peace Corps Association. Learn from the expertise of your PCIA hosts traveling with the group, who will share the unique perspective of Peace Corps Volunteers who served in Iran between 1962 and 1976.

Explore bustling bazaars and learn about the important role they play in Iranian commerce and culture. Visit beautiful gardens and museums, including the famous Abbasi Museum in Tehran.

Stroll through Tehran’s famous Sa’dabad Palace (summer residence of the Ghajar Dynasty Shah) and Golestan Palace. Visit teahouses tucked underneath Isfahan’s Si-O-Se Bridge or at the Khan Hamum bathhouse in Yazd. And much more.

$4,495 per person

Price includes:

Three- and Four-star accommodations, in-country transportation, translation, a fluent English-speaking guide/facilitator, and all meals

Preparatory materials

Entrance fees for main sites and excursions

NOT included are flights into and out of Iran, expenses of a purely personal nature, travel insurance, visa processing fees, gratuities for chamber maids, guides & driver, 5.5% administrative fee for processing credit card payments

Single room supplement (a room without a roommate) is an additional $800

Max. group size: 25

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Jackie’s CornerHow Going Back Changed My Life

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In 2005, I attended a journal-writing workshop and spent a weekend delving into my deepest aspirations, dreams, and dormant memories. During two days of intensive writing, something stirred in me, and in the car on the way home, I suddenly realized that I needed to go back to Iran. I needed to know if the country was really as grim and scary as the media portrayed it, and I needed to reconnect with whatever was still recognizable of the Iran I had loved. I walked in the door and told Mike, “We’re going to Iran!” He looked at me and said, “OK!”

Our return took place in 2006 – two weeks with Global Exchange, traveling up and down the tourist “spine” – Tehran, Esfahan, Shiraz, Yazd, Kashan, and back to Tehran. We were stunned at the welcome we received. On the plane from Frankfurt to Tehran, the woman next to me said, “We love the American people. We’re sorry about the problems between our two governments, but those are between the governments, not the people.” This was reiterated to us many times every day throughout the rest of the trip.

Iran was friendly, modern, clean, and beautiful. It was June, but I was comfortable in my scarf and coat, because the buses and hotels were air-conditioned. Outside we often sat in the shade in parks or lovely teahouses.

Upon our return, Mike and I felt a sense of urgency about sharing the message from so many Iranians: “We love the American people”. We began showing a slideshow of our trip around our area, and we joined a local organization called American-Iranian Friendship Council. We began following Iran issues in the news more closely.

I decided to take Persian at Portland State University to refresh my skills, and became friends with the instructor, a young Fulbright scholar from Tehran, with whom Mike and I became friends. She is back in Tehran, but her two sisters are in the US and we communicate with all three of them regularly.

In 2011, I joined with other Iran RPCVs to present the Portland reunion received so emotionally by the 300 people in attendance. From that event, PCIA was born, followed by subsequent reunion/conferences in Boston and Austin. Mike and I returned to Iran in 2008 with a group of our own family and friends.

In short, my trip to Iran in 2006 expanded my world, reconnected me to my Peace Corps experience, helped me become more informed about Iran, made me a better citizen, and opened up myriad ways for me to be of service in the ongoing dialogue about Iran’s place in the world. My life is fuller and more meaningful for having returned to Iran in 2006. I came back 35 years later to the place where my world initially opened up, only to learn that the opening never ends.

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To find out more about the tour and register, go to the National Peace Corps Association website: http://www.peacecorpsconnect.org/resources/next-step-travel/iran/