The Center for Civic Education hosted Mariam Memarsadeghi and Akbar Atri, co-founders and co-directors of Tavaana: E-Learning Institute for Iranian Civil Society and the E-Collaborative for Civic Education, at its office in Calabasas, California on September 12, 2013.
The meeting was the culmination of a successful collaboration between the Center and Tavaana to conduct the first online courses in the Center’s Foundations of Democracy civic education program. The online course, conducted in Farsi, featured eight interactive sessions led by Mr. Ebrahim Soltani of Syracuse University as well as readings from the Foundations of Democracy high school level materials and other political science documents. The course provided the opportunity for Iranian participants to better understand the Center’s Foundations of Democracy materials and relate them to their personal and political situation.
The Center supported the Foundations of Democracy course through the development of video interviews and video lectures by civic education leaders from throughout the world. The video interviews focused on practitioner experiences in promoting change in challenging political environments and in addressing issues in their country related to topics from Foundations of Democracy. The interviews feature Evgeny Belyakov, director of the Civitas Russia Foundation; Rahela Dzidic, former executive director of Civitas Bosnia and Herzegovina; Zafarullah Khan, executive director of the Centre for Civic Education Pakistan; and Refaat Sabbah, executive director of the Teacher Creativity Center, West Bank.
Link to the Video Interviews: http://new.civiced.org/civitas-prog-media/civitas-video-gallery (bottom of the page)
Link to the Video Lecture on Government and Privacy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NiS3exsmW0k
Mariam Memarsadeghi participated in the We the People: The Citizen and the Constitution program as a high school student. She had this to say about her experience:
“I came to the US in 1979, during the Iranian Revolution, as a second grader who spoke no English. I had a heightened sensitivity to issues of freedom and oppression, knowing I had left behind in a tyrannical regime my closest family and friends. While I was thoroughly renewed by my American education and was grateful for its openness and opportunity, it was not until my junior year in high school, the first year “We the People” was ever taught, that I felt my intellectual and moral yearning answered. Through an immersion in the American founding and the guiding principles of American democracy, I was able to have the catharsis I had long sought: to understand and articulate the fundamental need for the most basic of human rights, to appreciate the laws and institutions that sustain democratic rule, and to affirm how only the people themselves—not ideologies or autocrats—can be trusted to sustain their own freedom. I still keep We the People beside me as a reference, a guidepost and a moral anchor. It has shaped me as both an American and an Iranian, to cherish and protect freedom here in my adopted home and to help those in Iran struggling to call it theirs.”
The Center for Civic Education’s Civitas International Programs bring exemplary civic education curricula to young people worldwide in partnership with organizations in the United States and eighty-four countries. This unique network of educators, civil society organizations, educational institutions, and governmental agencies has worked for more than a decade to develop quality curricular materials and train teachers throughout Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East.