International Educator - May/June 2014 - 71

Ali and Bob in Iran
in the 1970s;
Ali and Bob reunited
at a NAFSA annual
conference in 2009

letters when they could, but hectic schedules made it difficult. "We were both busy
and going in different directions in our lives,"
says Ericksen.

BOB ERICKSEN

Iran's Revolution Changes
Everything
In 1978 Ali was nearing the end of his master's program at SIT when he received a call
from home. "My older brother called me on
day and said 'If you want to see Mom, you
have to rush back home.'" Ali took the next
flight home to be with his family. "My mom
passed away after a week. And then that was
the time the Iranian Revolution started. A
few months later, the Shah was toppled, and
there was no embassy, so I was stuck there."
Unable to return to SIT, Ali submitted his
thesis from Iran and began teaching English
literature at his alma mater Ferdowsi University. Two years later, the Iranian Cultural
Revolution changed everything.
"When the Shah was toppled, we were
happy. We were hopeful that something
good would have come of it, but we soon
realized we were slipping into a dictatorship.

I was more offended than anything else,
because they seemed to have used my intelligence, my feelings, and my emotions. I was
betrayed just like many other people who
were involved in this revolution, and I had
to speak out." His involvement in campus
demonstrations for freedom and democracy
put him in harm's way more than once, and
one day, while paying a visit to a friend, Ali
was detained by security forces. He and his
friend were tortured and later thrown in jail.
"The president of the university and many
other professors and I were all imprisoned."
Ali lived in a small cell with two other professors, and several of his fellow inmates were
killed during the four years he remained in
prison. "No one in the Western world knew
what was going on," says Ali, "The communication devices in those days did not exist."
Ali was able to pen a letter to his professor
at SIT, Claude Pepin, to tell him that he was
imprisoned, but there was little else Ali could
risk. "The letter was smuggled out and got to
its destination, so my professors knew that I
had been in jail, but the person who smuggled
it, later on, was executed."

When Ali was finally released from
prison in 1985, he was not permitted to
teach at universities, and security forces
would periodically check on him. He found
jobs teaching English at private schools, but
the work left him unfulfilled. "I was counting the days to get my visa so that I could
leave the country, and I could not sneak my
way out because I had a family and kids. It
was in August of 1996 when I finally got my
passport, and this was after going from office
to office and being interrogated again about
everything that I had done." Eleven years after
his release from prison, Ali was finally able to
leave Iran.
With his passport in hand, Ali made a call
to SIT to speak with Pepin. "He was the only
one who knew of my whereabouts. He was so
excited that he put the phone on speaker so everyone could hear my voice. So I got accepted
with a scholarship to go back to school."
At the time, leaving Iran, even with a
passport, was treacherous, and Ali encountered more hardship as he and his family
attempted to cross the border into Turkey
by bus. The driver collected all passports
and handed them to guards each time
the bus passed through one of the several
checkpoints leading to the border. At the
first checkpoint, Ali was interrogated for 30
minutes before being allowed to continue,
and at the final checkpoint, his wife's passport was confiscated, and she was taken
back through the checkpoints that they had
already passed. Ali was able to find her in a
detainment center, and she insisted that he
go on alone to Turkey while she sorted out
her passport situation in Tehran. "That was
the worst night of my life. I have seen a lot
of bitter moments in my life. My younger
brother was taken out of prison and executed, and that was very painful, but not as
painful as taking my wife and kids from me."
Ali arrived in Vermont and was taken in
by former colleagues. A month later, his wife
was able to secure a passport, and the family
was once again reunited in the United States.
Ali and his family were welcomed by Pepin
and other colleagues at SIT, including Lise
Sparrow and Karen Stromgren Blanchard.
M AY + J U N E .14 INTERNATIONAL EDUCATOR

71  



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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