International Educator - May/June 2014 - 70

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VIEW FROM OUT HERE
By Michael Feighner

An Odyssey of Rediscovery
After a revolution and decades apart,
NAFSA Annual Conference helps friends reconnect
"DO YOU REMEMBER picking grapes in my father's orchard and playing in my family's yard?"

When Bob Ericksen read these words in an email he received through NAFSA's Conference Connection in 2009 he knew that "there was only one person in the world that could have sent me
that message."
At that time Ericksen was the director of the Dashew
Center for International Students and Scholars at the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) and was in his
last year as a member of NAFSA's Board of Directors. As he
recalls, he was excited for the annual conference to come to
Los Angeles over Memorial Day weekend when, less than
a week before the event, he received this unexpected communication. But the name on the email was different than
the one he remembered, and the person he remembered
was presumed killed more than 20 years before. Ericksen
was about to embark on an odyssey of rediscovery.

Illinois Meets Iran
Ericksen graduated in 1973 from Augustana College in
Rock Island, Illinois, and looking to head overseas, he
applied to the Peace Corps. "I was young, naive, and certainly angered about the United States being engaged in a
war half-way around the world. Perhaps part of my naiveté
was a belief that by leaving the United States, I might find
a place and people more consistent with my values." When
he learned he would be going to Iran, he ran to the nearest
library to read up on a country he knew nothing about.
Ericksen was placed in the town of Bojnord, in the
northeast corner of Iran, and he served for two years as
an English teacher at a high school. "What I did find in
Iran was a place and people who welcomed and embraced
me, but I soon discovered that issues of peace and social
injustice are faced by all nations and cultures. I came away
looking back after two years with a better appreciation of
the United States and also of what Iran had to offer." One
of the best things Iran had to offer was his friend Ali.
Ali, whose real name is being withheld for safety concerns, graduated from Ferdowsi University in 1972 with
70  

INTERNATIONAL EDUCATOR M AY + J U N E .14

an English degree. At that time, Iran had mandatory military service, and because Ali had a bachelor's degree, he
was sent to work at the Ministry of Education. Following
teacher training, Ali sat for a test to determine his placement. "Because my marks were so high, I was the first to
choose, and I chose my home town: Bojnord."
"It wasn't too long after I arrived that the folks who
sought out native English speakers came out from here and
there," says Ericksen. "Ali was a fellow English teacher with
extraordinary fluency in English." Ali remembers it differently. "My English was no good at the time, so I needed a
lot of help, and sure enough, there he was. I just saw him
one day in the high school where I was assigned to teach."
They do, however, agree that their connection was
strong. "We hit it off well, I got to know him. I got to know
his family," remembers Ericksen. "It was such a pleasure
to meet someone who spoke the language. We were both
fresh from college and university, and being the same age
and in the same field, our friendship really grew," says Ali.
Ericksen and Ali spent hours together every afternoon,
strolling through town with no particular place in mind
and chatting with people along the way. "He helped integrate me into the social fabric of the town," says Ericksen.
The two would often spend time in Ali's family orchard
or at his family's home when not teaching or traveling.
For a year and half, Ericksen and Ali were inseparable.
In the summer of 1975, Ericksen finished his service and
returned to the United States to attend the School for International Training (SIT) in Brattleboro, Vermont. The
two kept in touch through letters, and eventually, Ali decided to apply to SIT as well. He was admitted into the
program in 1976, but by then, Ericksen was no longer in
Vermont. The two kept in touch through phone calls and



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of International Educator - May/June 2014

International Educator - May/June 2014
Contents
Front Lines
In Brief
New Windows on the World
Green River Community College Attracts International Students at an Early Age
Education Abroad
Foreign Student Affairs
Internationalization Leadership
Partnering
View From Out Here
Forum
In Focus
International Educator - May/June 2014 - International Educator - May/June 2014
International Educator - May/June 2014 - Cover2
International Educator - May/June 2014 - Contents
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 2
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 3
International Educator - May/June 2014 - Front Lines
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 5
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 6
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 7
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 8
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 9
International Educator - May/June 2014 - In Brief
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 11
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 12
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 13
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 14
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 15
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 16
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 17
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 18
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 19
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 20
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 21
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 22
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 23
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 24
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 25
International Educator - May/June 2014 - New Windows on the World
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 27
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 28
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 29
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 30
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 31
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 32
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 33
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 34
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 35
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 36
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 37
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 38
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 39
International Educator - May/June 2014 - Green River Community College Attracts International Students at an Early Age
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 41
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 42
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 43
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 44
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 45
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 46
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 47
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 48
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 49
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 50
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 51
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 52
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 53
International Educator - May/June 2014 - Education Abroad
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 55
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 56
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 57
International Educator - May/June 2014 - Foreign Student Affairs
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 59
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 60
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 61
International Educator - May/June 2014 - Internationalization Leadership
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 63
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 64
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 65
International Educator - May/June 2014 - Partnering
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 67
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 68
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 69
International Educator - May/June 2014 - View From Out Here
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 71
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 72
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 73
International Educator - May/June 2014 - Forum
International Educator - May/June 2014 - BB1
International Educator - May/June 2014 - BB2
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 75
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 76
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 77
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 78
International Educator - May/June 2014 - 79
International Educator - May/June 2014 - In Focus
International Educator - May/June 2014 - Cover3
International Educator - May/June 2014 - Cover4
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