April 06, 2021
Kaveh Hoda is a physician, musician and podcast host living in San Francisco. His expertise is in gastroenterology, hepatology and, according to him, making fun of medical grifters. He cohosts the humor adjacent medical podcast, the House of Pod, which is how I first learned of him. Along with his cohost Lizzie, he explores topics related to the medicine, which, as we touch on in the interview, is really a microcosm for society at large. Medicine is something that affects all of us in one way or another, and we’ve especially seen how important the medical field is now during this pandemic. I was also able to ask him how to influence your children to become medical doctors, which is every Iranian parents dream. Listen to the interview below:
March 24, 2021
Mohammad Ali is better known as Persian Poetics on both Instagram and Twitter. He went viral just a few months ago on a Twitter thread where he talked about the bestselling poetry book in the English language, a translation of Rumi’s poems by Coleman Barks. In the thread, he went through a details look at Coleman Bark’s translations, and revealed that Barks doesn’t even know the Persian language. Since the thread went viral, Mohammad Ali has picked up the pace of his own more accurate translations of Rumi and other Persian poetry.
January 26, 2021
John Ghazvinian is the author of the new fantastic book, America and Iran: A History, 1720 to the Present, a comprehensive new survey of the bilateral relationship, based on years of archival research in both Iran and the United States, which he has been working on since 2008. For the past many decades, the relationship between the United States and Iran has been very hostile and toxic, defined by coups, hostage crises, inflammatory slogans, devastating sanctions. But it hasn’t always been this way, and the two countries actually had quite a lot of mutual admiration in the past. The book chronicles that, all the way back to 1720. Iran is often on the front page of the news in the US these days, but you will probably be surprised to find out that it was often on the front page of the US news in the 18th century as well.
December 08, 2020
Yara Elmjouie is a Webby Award-wnning, James Beard-nominated video producer, journalist, and host at AJ+. He's also a great voice in the Iranian American community, creating engaging videos explaining current conditions in Iran, and documenting the experiences of Iranian Americans. He was born in Los Gatos, California, but grew up visiting Iran often. By the time he got to high school and college, he had an insatiable thirst for deep diving into his language and culture. He currently lives in New York City, and much of his current work chronicles the experiences of the Iranian diaspora.
November 11, 2020
For this Raising Neem-Roonis interview, we talk to Mona Kiani, founder of Englisi Farsi where she creates books, flashcards, and other learning materials for people wanting to teach their kids Persian using phonetic English script. She grew up in Australia with two Iranian parents, but like many second generation Iranian kids, rebelled against the language and culture. She married a Singaporian-Australian, and it wasn't until she was six months pregnant with her first child that something clicked and she felt a desperate urge to connect with her mother tongue. However, she found resources for people like her- who could speak Persian conversationally, but couldn't read and write it comfortably- were sorely lacking. So, she created them herself, giving rise to Englisi Farsi- a fantastic resource for other second generation Iranians with similar experiences.
October 21, 2020
Azadeh Shams is a toy designer living in Milan, Italy. She specializes in creating toys for children bilingual in both Persian and English. She has also become an internationally known expert on raising bilingual children, frequently appearing on the massively popular Man o To network. I became familiar with her work on Instagram, where she frequently posts videos on how to raise bilingual children, and often teaches by providing scenarios and offering multiple choice answers of how to deal with challenging situations.
June 15, 2020
Tehran Von Ghasri is a half African American, half Iranian comedian who reads and speaks Farsi fluently. Originally, I wanted to interview Tehran to ask him about being raised in a half Iranian family and how his father managed to keep him interested in the Persian language and culture. However, our interview took place a couple weeks after the death of George Floyd and the reemergence of the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States and all over the world. I had a lot of questions about his unique perspective of being half black and half Iranian, and particularly about the role of Iranian Americans in this movement. I learned so much from our conversation and hope that you will too. Listen to the full podcast or read the transcript below (edited for length and clarity):
May 26, 2020
When I first envisioned the Raising Neem-Roonis project, one of the first people I knew I had to interview was Shabnam Rezaei, co founder of Big Bad Boo, a production company that specializes in animated series that showcase different cultures and languages. I actually met Shabnam many, many years ago in New York. I was working on a board game that teaches kids the Persian language and Shabnam interviewed me for a really successful blog she had at the time called Persian Mirror, in which she wrote about Iranian culture. We've kept in touch throughout the years, and it's been incredible to see her develop and grow as a successful Iranian business woman, and to be doing such incredible and impactful work.
May 21, 2020
While learning a language is an important way of understanding culture, food is an equally important universal language. Iranians in particular are very passionate about cooking and eating, and in particular, cooking and eating together. We're raised knowing that there is always a seat at the table for guests, and that food is a pleasure best when shared.