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Learning About Iranian Culture

Pardis helps Iranian American children learn more about their culture and the Persian language.

Learning about one’s culture, as well as the culture of others, is important, says Sanam Akhlagh. Akhlagh is the founder of Pardis for Children. Located in New York City, the nonprofit brings Iranian American families together and offers enrichment programs for children about their heritage. Classes delve into Iranian music, art, and history, among other topics. During the pandemic, programs and events have been held virtually. 

Akhlagh has always been passionate about education, kids, and culture. But she felt a void before founding Pardis in 2011. She hadn’t been able to get together with friends who share her Iranian heritage on a regular basis. She also thought her children needed that community. 

“I want kids to know their culture and language,” Akhlagh told me in a recent interview. “So if they’re Iranian, they actually know what that means.”

But she also wants them to create a bond. “I want them to build a community that they’ll hopefully keep, and stay friends together for years to come,” she said. “I want them to have a beautiful, positive memory associated with the Iranian culture and Persian language.” 


Children enjoy activities at Pardis, an Iranian cultural organization in New York City. 


Learning about your own culture and language, and understanding other cultures from around the world, Akhlagh explained, makes you a richer and more tolerant person. It also makes you appreciate other people’s way of life.

“For me, education and this exchange of cultures is a way to peace,” Akhlagh said. “It is much harder to call people of certain countries or cultures your enemy when you actually know them. When you eat their food, or when you dance to their music together, when you read their literature, it becomes more real, and you start appreciating everyone.”

When asked her advice for young people, Akhlagh encouraged exploration and discovery. “If you have the opportunity, always be curious to make friends,” she said. “Get to know people from different cultures and be curious. Always try to know more and travel.”




Photos courtesy of Pardis