A Farsi party for all

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Bryan Pearson
A BYU student dishes up some Iranian food at a Farsi celebration Friday afternoon. (Bryan Pearson)

Students learning Farsi in BYU Persian classes held a party on Friday in the Joseph Fielding Smith Building for classmates and other Persian students on campus who had an interest in mingling among those with shared interests.

The numbers were few when one imagines a foreign language program, but the kindness and welcoming spirit of both the Farsi students and the foreign students spoke loudly of the culture.

Hooshang Farahnakian, the current professor of the first- and second-year Persian classes, explained the party. “Some Iranian students come, and we have a program where some of the students play instruments. We have a very interesting program today, with dancing and singing everywhere,” he said.

Alex Williams, a teaching assistant of the classes, said it wasn’t a one-time thing. “Every semester, the class gets together and has an Iranian party where we can sing, we can dance, we can eat Persian food. We invite all of the other Iranian students on campus to come so that all of the students can participate and get a feel of what Iranian Persian culture is,” he said.

Bryan Pearson
Hooshang and Mary Farahnakian are both from Iran and are key to the Farsi program at BYU. (Bryan Pearson)

Hooshang’s wife and teaching assistant, Mary Farahnakian, said the party gives Iranian and American students who are interested in learning Farsi the chance to get together.

Williams shed some light on the Farahnakians, who came to America from Iran around the time of the Iranian Revolution in the late ’70s. They’ve both been teaching at BYU for around ten years and are both LDS.

Jessica Farnsworth, a Middle Eastern Studies and Arabic major, said Farsi is similar to Arabic, so it made learning the language a bit easier.

Williams also explained why the class is so valuable. “I really hope that other people can find out about this Persian class that we have, because we have very few students who actually show up to the class and sign up for the class. It’s a great experience. It’s a critical language if you’re into international relations or thinking about doing any government service at all,” Williams said.

Members of a Farsi class gather Friday evening in the Joseph Fielding Smith Building to watch Iranian dancing and eat cultural foods. (Bret Mortimer)

The party began with a buffet of Persian food, including rice, chicken, baklava and more. Williams said, “There’s something about rice that every Persian loves — it’s called Tahdig. They cook the rice in a certain way so on the bottom of the pan, the rice gets crunchy. When they serve the rice, they flip it upside down so that the crunchy rice is on top and you use that to eat the gravy dishes.”

Next, students and family of students performed music on the piano, electric guitar, acoustic guitar and more. Attendees enjoyed traditional Persian dancing, laughter and mingling.

BYU students can find first- and second-year Persian classes under the foreign language tab during registration.

Student Alex Williams describes the Farsi class and celebration.

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