Originally posted here
I’m currently working on my first of two major papers for my comparative government and politics class. After a couple weeks of diving into the history and politics of Iran, we are to determine why there is anti-Western rhetoric in Iran and categorize our evidence into a rational/economic, cultural or structural/political argument (super fancy political science terms- If you want an explanation of those, click here).
I’m so engrossed in the topic that I’m actually having a hard time breaking out of that train of thought and blogging today—which is probably why I’m blogging about what I’m writing about. That makes me a super nerd huh?
Out of the Ordinary Source
I’m particularly excited because I just talked with Barbara Slavin, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s South Asia Center and a correspondent for Al-Monitor.com. She’s the author of the bookBitter Friends, Bosom Enemies: Iran, the US and the Twisted Path to Confrontation, so in short, she’s an expert on Iran and a very successful journalist.
This paper does not require that we go out and interview someone. In fact, our instructor didn’t even suggest that we might want to do that. She simply gave us a list of respected news outlets that have written on the topic. While I thoroughly enjoy using news articles for research, I wanted more. During my research, I found a woman named Robin Wright come up more than once, so I reached out to her to see if we could chat about the topic. She is currently doing research in Tehran for an upcoming book, so she referred me to Barbara. I emailed her this morning and by 1:30 we were chatting about the complicated relationship and history between Iran and the United States. She even offered to answer any other questions that might come up via email, and told me, “I think it’s important for us old women to talk with you younger women.” Talk about feeling important.
I’m sure my journalistic background pushed me to pursue an expert in the field and kept me from feeling like I had no business talking with such an important person. I never once felt intimidated nor did I hesitate about emailing either of these ladies.
A Lesson to be Learned
If I learn nothing about Iran from this experience, I will have at least realized the power of simply reaching out. “No” is a word that we often hear, but it seems to me “yes” can be just as common. If we worry about being judged, shut down or dismissed, we will never attempt difficult things, and we won’t dream big.
My comparative government and politics instructor refers to all of us as scholars. Her reasoning is that we are actively pursuing knowledge and contributing to the field of academia. So whether you are a freshman in your first weeks at CSU or a graduate defending your thesis, you are a scholar. I think that’s important to remember because it opens the door to a new group of intelligent people from which to speak to and learn from.
P.S. The Broncos let Champ Bailey go.