Traveling teaches and shows you things that you would have never realized before; this is why we found that we would like to change our topic and research closer to our heart, which leads us, as Independent Women, to investigate while traveling Iran and learning about there culture.
Maybe you have read the adventure in Turkey And Iran of Lende and Jakub, in Iran, There is where it all started: staying with locals we found that we, as women, wanted to analyze the situation of women in different countries. Before traveling here, we knew that there were some rules that we had to follow. There were boundaries that we couldn’t cross, dressing code and behavior we had to follow. We didn’t expect this to shock us as much as it did, but since we had the opportunity to stay with the locals, we got hear their point of view.
Our journey on this investigation started with a guy called Ali from Teheran, whom we met in Hornsjoe the last summer, and he introduced us to his friends Sara, Amin and their son, who became our hosts. While staying with them and meeting their friends, we began to realize the real local life for women and difference between the public and the private space. We found out that there are women like Sara, who see religion more traditionally and doesn’t want to show her hair to other men unless it is her husband and there are women, like her friends, who prefer not to were hijab whenever they can. In fact, if they could choose, they wouldn’t wear the hijab in private or public space.
Another impressive woman we met was Pooneh, who hosted us in Isfahan with her husband, Bijan in their small apartment. She became our sister as we are quite like-minded: she is young, curious about our lives and lifestyle, she even took us a day off work to spend time with us and show us her workplace. She is an English teacher in an elder activity center, and all her students are 60+ women. Inside the center, they were not wearing the hijab, and they didn’t even want us to wear the scarf around our neck. However, when we were taking pictures, some of them decided to wear it. She took us to one of her classes where our mission was to interact with the students to train their conversation skills. The primary motivation for many of these women to learn English was that their children had moved outside of Iran and married foreigners, making English the primary language of their grandchildren. They were curious about our personal lives, so their questions were focused on family, boyfriends, marriage, food and many other things. They even asked us if we would be interested in marrying an Iranian man and one of them offered her brother! We are still in contact with Pooneh.
While we where traveling Iran in Kerman Desert. There we met two women: Mina and the manager of our hostel. Mina was a young married woman that was traveling with her husband. She is an English teacher and as we found out a rebel in the Iranian system: she loves to dance…and they took us to dance in the desert. It is the only place where there are no people around so we could be free to dance and to go without hijab. The manager of our hostel was an elder woman and the only member of this family business that spoke English. She was very kind to us, and she was managing the hole hostel by herself with the help of her daughters. She was a Strong Independent Woman in a men’s society.
In Shiraz, we met Arezoo and her daughter Ava. Arezoo who is in her late 20’s, studies to become a nurse while taking care of her seven-year-old daughter. Both of them are living alone in an apartment, which is very unusual as she is a single mother and women only live with their husband or their family. In the private area, she is free as most of her friends are men and she can hang out with them openly.
Traveling Iran, we were overwhelmed by people’s hospitality and their kindness. Also, we were happily surprised to find Iran to be safe, breaking the perceptions we had before going. We found ourselves in an environment of no judgment, highly developed cities with modern infrastructure and people, who are open-minded and very educated. We realized that the government and the people of Iran are opposites: the values of the Government are not always reflected on what the people’s values are. In fact, we didn’t meet anyone who was happy with the Government.
We would love to come back soon!
Anna, Cassandra, Daniela and Aina