Monthly Archives: March 2019

Now-Ruz, Persian New Year – Celebrating a New Day and New Beginnings

March 20th, 2019

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Seven years ago, I wrote a blog on the celebration of Now-Ruz (New Day) or the Persian New Year. At that time, the talk of war against Iran was the rhetoric of Washington.  Seven years later the rhetoric remains the same and the economic sanctions against Iran have been re-imposed. But threats of war and economic hardship have not dampened the spirits of Iranians in Iran when it comes to celebrating their long cherished festivities of Now-Ruz.

The celebration of Now-Ruz, takes effect at the exact astronomical beginning of Spring, known as the vernal equinox. Iranians in the diaspora and those living in Iran will celebrate the arrival of the Now-Ruz on March 20th at exactly 2:58:27 PM PDT.

Now-Ruz has been celebrated for nearly 3000 years. Its rituals and traditions date back to Zoroastrianism, the ancient Persian religion that existed until 7th century A.D. before the Arab invasion and the enforcement of Islam. Today, besides Iran, Now-Ruz is celebrated by nearly 300 million people from several countries that share this holiday (Afghanistan, Albania, Azerbaijan, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, India, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkey and Turkmenistan and of course, the Iranian diaspora living in all corners of the globe.

In 2009, Now-Ruz was recognized by the U.N. as a tradition of Intangible Cultural Heritage, which “promotes values of peace and solidarity between generations and within families as well as reconciliation and neighborliness.”

In preparation for Now-Ruz, Iranians embark on the spring-cleaning of their homes, even make or buy a new set of clothes, and bake pastries in anticipation of visiting guests when gifts are exchanged and feasts enjoyed. Bakeries, food stores, bazaars (even those here in Los Angeles) are abuzz with shoppers stocking up on sweets, pastries, and all the herbs and condiments needed for baking and preparing traditional Persian dishes.

I left Iran when I was 10 before the Islamic Revolution, and remember receiving crisp bank notes from my parents and relatives.  Banks would issue newly printed paper bills and gold coins which were offered as gifts known as eidi.

The rituals surrounding the celebration of Now-Ruz are rich with symbolism and ceremony. They begin on the last Wednesday of winter with Chahar-Shanbeh Soori (Eve of Wednesday), a fire-jumping festival, where people create small bonfires in their neighborhoods and jump over them as the sun sets.

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Parents join in with their children and jump over the flames inviting happiness and abundance while releasing and letting go of darkness and negativity by chanting: “Offer me your lovely red hue and take away my sickly pallor.” With fire signifying light (day), the symbol of all that is good, and dark (night), the unknown and all that is evil, celebrants partaking in the fire festival look forward to the arrival of spring bringing longer days and new beginnings.

As a child growing up in Iran, I remember the minstrels or troubadours, known as Haji Firuz, who sang and danced in the streets dressed in bright red and yellow satin poufy pants and shirts, spreading good cheer and bringing merriment to neighborhoods.

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Another tradition, somewhat resembling the trick-or-treat of Halloween, included young men who disguised themselves as women under chadors (long veils) and went from street to street banging on pots and pans, shaking tambourines and raising raucous, warding off evil or any dark negative spirits. All this was done in jest as seeing a boy or young man in such a disguise invited laughs and more laughs.

Now-Ruz celebrations last for 13 days. As a child, Now-Ruz for me meant a school holiday lasting for 13 days. In fact, most businesses throughout the country would shut down for the duration of Now-Ruz. Everyone was on holiday!

A major feature of Now-Ruz is the preparation of the “Haft-Seen,” (seven “S’s”); a special display of seven specific offerings each beginning with the letter “S” in Farsi.

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Typically, the “Haft-Seen” includes the following: “seeb” or apple (promotes beauty and good health), “seer” or garlic (wards off bad omen), “samanou” (a sweet pudding, symbolizing affluence), “sabze” or wheat-germ (representing rebirth) grown in a flat dish a few days before the New Year, “sek-keh” or coin, preferably gold (for wealth and abundance), “senjed” (dried fruit from lotus tree, symbolizing love), and “somagh” or sumac (color of sunrise). In addition, there will also be a mirror (symbol for the sky), a goldfish in a bowl (life force), lit candles symbolizing fire and promoting enlightenment, colored eggs (symbol of fertility corresponding to the mother earth), sweets to spread sweetness and a book of poems by Hafiz or Rumi.

The Now-Ruz festivities end on the 13th day known as “Sizdah Bedar” (out with the 13th), and it is celebrated outdoors. Staying indoors is seen as a bad omen and families spend the day outside in parks and in the countryside near streams, rivers, and lakes, enjoying a festive picnic.

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The “sabze” or plate of wheat-germ that was the centerpiece of the Haft-Seen is taken on this picnic so that young unmarried women wishing for a husband will tie a knot between the green shoots (symbolizing a marital bond) and toss it into running water.

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Despite the Islamic Regime’s attempts to do away with Now-Ruz, calling it un-Islamic and pagan, the ancient tradition of celebrating the arrival of Spring continues in Iran

Conquerors have come and gone, dynasties have risen and fallen, and the plans for war may have been penciled in, but Now-Ruz is in ink and etched into the cultural fabric of Iranians. Now-Ruz is a reminder that the darkness is fleeting and the day will soon be longer than the night.

Happy Now-Ruz!

Please refer to the links shared below, to learn more about Now-Ruz:

https://en.unesco.org/silkroad/content/nowruz-celebrating-new-year-silk-roads

https://nbpostgazette.com/happy-nowruz-all-you-need-to-know-about-iranian-persian-new-year/

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Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert is the President and CEO of the Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute (ACEI).

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The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit www.acei-global.org.

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The Global Educator Program: Engage with key influencers to leverage your international recruitment

March 15th, 2019

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In this week’s blog, we would like to showcase Branta, an international student recruitment, study abroad organization based in Seattle, WA. We recently learned about Branta’s Global Education Program which aims to build relationships between teachers and school administrators in India with administrators at U.S. institutions of higher education.

According to Syed K. Jamal, Branta’s Founder & CEO, “In India’s collective culture, both resident and the diaspora community, lived-experience and face-to-face meetings have a profound effect. They break boundaries and build bonds. To leverage the cultural aspect, and in order to equip principals/counselors from India and the UAE with international networks, we launched the Global Educator Program in 2018. At its core, it’s a professional development outreach both for international educators as well as for American campuses acting as hosting institutions. We are delighted to launch the 2019 version of the program which provides full funding to international educators.”

As one US educator noted in this video, it’s not about just sitting and having a quick conversation and exchanging brochures with students but building relationships with educators and administrators from the students’ countries.  The desire by the K-12 schools in India and wanting to collaborate directly with U.S. institutions with relation to teaching and partnership, and ways to enhance understanding of what it means to pursue an education in the U.S. is significant. For U.S. educators, the benefits include gaining a better and deeper insight of the Indian education system at a younger level and what it means to start talking about the practicalities of a global education at a higher level. Bringing these two groups together under one roof and sharing ideas, learning from each other, developing partnerships and forging long-term relationships are the takeaways of participation in The Global Educator Program.

Those US institutions who wish to enable this exchange, host the group on their camps and benefit from it are welcome to write to syed@gobranta.com for more details.

And, please share this with those in your networks in India and UAE.


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The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit www.acei-global.org.

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Diploma to Degree: A Global Progression Pathway Made in Scotland

March 8th, 2019

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  • Introducing the Scottish Qualifications Authority (SQA)
  • SQA Qualifications
  • Quality Assurance
  • SQA International markets and SQA Diploma to Degree offerings
  • Partnership working with ACEI
  • Working with us

SQA wants to establish progression pathways for its international students who, on completion of an SQA Advanced Qualification in their own country wish to articulate to a related Degree program at an institution in the U.S.

U.S. colleges may wish to work in partnership with SQA and deliver SQA Advanced Qualifications either jointly with their own provision or as an alternative provision. In doing so, U.S. institutions can internationalize their campus by working with SQA, SQA’s existing progression partners and centers around the world. Once a pathway is established, SQA will work in partnership with the receiving institution and promote the progression pathway to its students and centers around the world.

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Who Will Benefit

  • Admissions Officers interested in recruiting international students
  • Staff with an interest in progression pathways from college based learning into higher education
  • Higher education policy makers with an interest in progression routes for lifelong learning and bridging the academic/vocational divide
  • Credential Evaluation Bodies
  • Community College Staff
  • University Staff

Thursday, March 21, 2019

10 AM – 11 AM PST

Free Webinar

Register Now


Your Presenters:

Margaret
Mags Hutchinson
International Articulation Manager
Scottish Qualifications Authority

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Mags has been employed by the Scottish Qualifications Authority for 18 years. Initially she worked in Qualifications Development, developing and maintaining qualifications to service the Engineering sector. In her current role as International Articulation Manager she seeks to build relationships with Community Colleges and Higher Education Institutions in the US.


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Jasmin Saidi-Kuehnert
President & CEO
Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute

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Jasmin is a leading expert on international education and credential evaluation methodologies. She has authored several publications on world education systems, and is a regular presenter at regional, national and international conferences. She is currently the Acting President of the Association of International Credential Evaluators, and serves on the International Education Standards Council of AACRAO (American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers).


 

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IRAN: An Update on Primary and Secondary Education System

March 1st, 2019

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Iran’s education system has undergone a number of reforms since the 1979 Islamic Revolution. One sector that has been seen several reforms in the past four decades is the primary and secondary education system.

The most recent changes to the education system, according to the Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA), took place in 2013 where primary education has been extended from 5 to 6 years, followed by 3 years of lower secondary and 3 years of upper secondary. In the new system, the 13th year, known as pre-university (pishdaneshgahi) has been absorbed into the upper secondary cycle and is no longer offered.

Students who complete the 12th year from the new system and pass final exams will receive their Certificate/Diploma of High School Completion. They will then be eligible to sit for the national entrance exam for universities.

We have prepared a historic overview of Iran’s primary and secondary cycle for use as a quick reference when reviewing and evaluating academic transcripts of students from Iran.

Pre-1979 Islamic revolution    [5+3+4]

5 years primary (grades 1-5)

3 years middle school/guidance cycle (grades 6, 7, 8)

4 years upper secondary (grades 9, 10, 11, 12)

Post-1979 Islamic Revolution (through 1995)            [5+3+4]

5 years primary (grades 1-5)

3 years middle school/guidance cycle (grades 6, 7, 8)

4 years upper secondary (grades 9, 10, 11, 12)

1996-2013       [5+3+3+1]

5 years primary (grades 1-5)

3 years middle school/guidance cycle (grades 6, 7, 8)

3 years upper secondary (grades 9, 10, 11)

1 year pre-university (year 12)

2013 to present          [6+3+3]

6 years primary (grades 1-6)

3 years lower secondary cycle (grades 7, 8, 9)

3 years upper secondary cycle (grades 10, 11, 12)

Here’s a good link to a page on the UCAS website dedicated to Iran’s pre-university certificate and the recent changes made to the primary and secondary system: https://qips.ucas.com/qip/iran-pre-university-certificate-pishdaneshgahi

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The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI provides a number of services that include evaluations of international academic credentials for U.S. educational equivalence, translation, verification, and professional training programs. ACEI is a Charter and Endorsed Member of the Association of International Credential Evaluators. For more information, visit www.acei-global.org.

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