“I’m politically vocal and informed, but I’m not politically active,” expressed a frustrated participant before the start of NIAC’s Demystifying Democracy Workshop-Seven Ingredients of Influence in NY on April 26th at Columbia University. With the help of NIPONY (Network of Iranian Professionals of NY) and CISA (Columbia Iranian Students Association), Iranian Americans of all ages came to learn how to turn idle political conversation, into political action.
“I think everyone can learn from NIAC’s workshop,” stressed Darius Shahinfar, former Congressional candidate for the New York’s 21st District. Shahinfar noted that the elements presented in the workshop are fundamental for anyone hoping to make a difference in the US political system.
Not only were New Yorker Iranian Americans engaged this past month, but Iranian Americans in Kentucky came out to learn how to be influential citizens on May 9at the University of Louisville. However, we soon learned that not all attendees were from Kentucky. “We drove four hours to come to this workshop,” said a young couple from West Virginia.
NIAC asked participants in Kentucky, who had met with their Congressional representatives or staff and only about five, raised their hands. “I once had the opportunity to meet my Congressman,” said one mother of four, “But my friend advised me not to, ‘No, don’t introduce yourself! All they want from you is money.’ But now I realize that was a missed opportunity.” Participants learned that as Iranian Americans, they are resources, not burdens to their representatives. Furthermore, they realized that there are seven ingredients of influence, the least important of which is money.
Attendees left feeling empowered and equipped to implement change in their communities and we look forward to seeing greater involvement from the Iranian-American community in New York and Kentucky. NIAC is able to present these workshops to the Iranian-American community with the help of the PARSA Foundation. If you’d like to have a civic participation workshop near you, please contact Michelle Moghtader, Director of Community Outreach at [email protected].