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March 19, 2015

Building a “New Day” this Norooz, through Service

DayofService-Norooz2
It’s that time of the year again. Every year I eagerly look forward to celebrating Norooz, the beautiful and ancient Persian New Year celebration of the arrival of the spring, new beginnings, and the resurrection of nature after a long cold winter.

Norooz is a time for hope, love and generosity, and hence the best time of the year to count our blessings and give back. While each family has its own Norooz traditions, this special holiday is a time when all of us put our busy lives aside during the first thirteen days of spring and making the people in our lives a priority. This year, I am excited to have adopted a new Norooz tradition: volunteering for NIAC’s annual Day of Service.  

Nastaran

Last Saturday March 14, in the spirit of Norooz, I joined dozens of Iranian Americans and their friends and families from all backgrounds in coming together as one, and volunteering our time and talents to make a positive impact in our respective communities across United States.

NIAC volunteers organized a variety of community service activities nationwide, such as caring for the environment by cleaning parks and beaches; helping with scholarship and job applications for refugees; preparing care packages and feeding the homeless; and beautifying a church that takes pride in being radically inclusive and welcoming to people of all backgrounds, faiths and orientations.

As an Iranian American, I was proud to have had the opportunity to give back this Norooz by beautifying Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco. Glide is a historic San Francisco institution that is vital to the wellness of the city, as it provides a variety of services to the underprivileged – especially the city’s large homeless population. Glide is no ordinary place of worship: it’s a place where people who are in desperate need are able to find hope and care, regardless of race, color, faith, orientation and background. Individuals come to Glide looking for food or shelter, seeking to find their way back to recovery through Glide’s rehabilitation programs, or simply looking for fellowship and community. I was moved to get to know a place where everyone values each other and respects their differences, and which is committed to ending the cycles of poverty and marginalization in our city.

Although I myself am a secular Muslim, I found Glide Memorial’s model of inclusivity and tolerance to be truly inspirational – and that’s why I wanted to ensure a service project at Glide was included in NIAC’s annual Norooz Day of Service. After all, Norooz is the combination of the words No (new) + Rooz (day) – and acts of community service are small contributions in building a better tomorrow

I am hopeful for a day when peace will prevail in our world, but believe that hope without action is mere sentimentality. As I actively volunteer with fellow NIAC members, both on days like the Day of Service and in my role as the Congressional Team Captain for my district, I grow increasingly confident that our combined contributions can help to build a better world.

It’s time we embrace our shared values. It’s time for peace.

Nastaran Aslani is a NIAC volunteer who serves as the Congressional Team Captain for CA District 14. 

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