This month’s “Did You Know?” is part of a series highlighting Iranian-American student organizations across the United States. The Chamber invites you to get to know these students and groups, who represent the next generation of rising Iranian-American stars.
All around the nation, young Iranian-Americans have created their own tight-knit communities to help bring their home nation everywhere they go. Whether it is the corners of California or the mountains of Vermont, this special solidarity found in college communities is evident. This is especially seen at Texas A&M University (TAMU) in College Station, Texas and its Persian Student Association (PSA).
TAMU PSA, founded in 2001, is a recognized non-profit organization and is built on the mission of bringing the Persian community together. Leading the organization is the current president, Mohammad Aghajani Delavar, who is a PhD student from Mazandaran, Iran, and is studying Structural Engineering. Aghajani leads the PSA’s members to bond through activities such as community service and cultural ceremonies, ranging from large scale cultural events to movie nights and hiking.
Like many Iranian-heritage student groups, TAMU PSA holds annual Yalda and Nowruz events where there are live music performances, Hafez-khani (readings of Hafez poetry), and dances from both students and Iranian-heritage residents of College Station. In January of this year, the organization also held a charity food fundraiser for flood victims in the Sistan-Baluchestan region of Iran. Events like these highlight the solidarity that many young Iranian-Americans feel towards Iran and its travesties.
TAMU PSA is special in how it interacts with its local community. Because College Station is a small city, the PSA is a hub for Iranian-American growth, community, and gathering; Aghajani explains that the organization is built to be open to the city’s Iranian-American population. For instance, the Nowruz and Yalda events, along with other cultural gatherings, create a space for community. For many Iranian student clubs in smaller towns, the young population of Iranian-Americans serves as a source of new inspiration where a growing community is creating new traditions. Similarly, TAMU PSA connects with the Iranian-American community in hopes of fundraising; recently, the Chamber had a chance to discuss with Aghajani, who explained the challenges his organization faces: “the huge difference I see in our association than other Iranian student clubs is not having any predetermined budget from University, and we need to find sponsors for our events, which pushes us to search more for the sponsorships.” By looking for sponsors and fundraising, TAMU PSA works within the Iranian-American community to help foster its initiatives and invest in its role as an organization for students of Iranian heritage.
By Ariane Sharifi