Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Farewell to Tehran

It's been a long haul but we are finally going home. Now trying to pack six months of 'stuff' into two suitcases already filled with gifts from our students and the staff of the TFFSSO we have been working with. It ain't easy!

We have had some fun, a few tears and several frustration, but the people we have worked with have been fabulous and if you want to know what the Biblical hospitality looked like, come here. Yes, there are problems in Iran and there are things that the west doesn't like about the culture, but then, who is to say that we have it right either. The Iranians we have worked with these last six months are, to a man (and some women!) courteous, respectful and generous. They want the things we want for our kids, health, security and the prospect of careers or rewards for the effort they put in. They are very family oriented and guests are invariably treated with a generosity that puts ours to shame.

As I look back over the last couple of days and take stock of the meals we have enjoyed, in a family home where we were treated to some specially, and I think not easily, prepared dishes that were delicious. In a traditional restuarant last night that certainly didn't come cheaply to our host and today our course treated us to a party, then the staff insisted we share a party they had laid on for us, and then a special lunch...

Yes, I'm going home heavier than when I arrived and will have to lose some of it, but I am truly humbled by the gifts individuals had chosen specially for us. Each has been slected with care and a degree of love and respect that is really moving. But one of the really great memories I take home os the evening spent at a language school with one of our colleagues. The students were delightful, both young men and young women and the questions they asked us showed just how our western image is slewed by the way our media present us and how their own misrepresent it. They are deeply conscious of how they see themselves as being misrepresented by our media as well, but hopefully we have now put a few things straight for this group at least which will perhaps feed back into other groups and start to change attitudes.

A bit of a pleasure today was to pass a box of a certain chocloate treat which is known for the slogan "Have a break, have a ...." to my young Afghani and Iranian boys and men working on the building site. Since my intervention for health and safety when one got a nail in his foot, they have had proper overalls, proper boots and gloves and helmets and I have been greated with friendly "Salaams" and cheerful smiles. Today I got almost tearful "Khod ah Fes" from them as they spotted me strolling just before I left. Again, I can but hope that they will eventually go home remembering that some westerners at least, aren't out to bomb them or bully them into a way of life they do't particularly want, but actually care about them as fellow travellers in this journey of life.

And so, to bed, as Sammy Pepys was wont to write. We have a 03.30 pick up to get to the airport....

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