As part of their Art History program, majors do a significant activity that takes them outside of the classroom. We have students who do internships and excavations and study abroad. Emma Shouse traveled to Iran last summer. Here is a short report from her on what she experienced:
This summer, I went on a two week trip with Intrepid Tours to Iran. I was the youngest out of 11 people on the tour, not including our fabulous tour guide Nadia, and was the only American. We traveled around the center of the country, hitting a lot of the more historical cities, and also spent one night in a mountain village with a nomad family. While this was not an academic trip, my goal was to visit as many mosques as possible and use my experience to enhance my research of Persian mosaics. Some of the famous sights we visited include: the Tehran Bazaar, Imam Khomeini’s Shrine, the Necropolis, Persepolis, the Zoroastrian Tower of Silence and Chak Chak Temple, Sheikh Lotfollah and Shah mosques of Esfahan, the tomb of Hafez, and Nasir ol Molk Mosque in Shiraz. As their tourism industry is still in its infancy, there were some moments where we were the only tourists in sight.
I was aware that the version of Iran shown by the American media is not an accurate portrayal of the thoughts and feelings of average Iranians, but I was absolutely blown away by the hospitality and kindness shown to me. Almost every day I had girls around my age ask to take selfies with me, and some were kind enough to give me their phone numbers just in case I had any emergencies while in Iran. It was quite the celebrity treatment. We were offered food and gifts, and almost everyone had something to say about the upcoming presidential election once they found out I was American. There was not a single moment where I felt unsafe, and being American, the Iranian government was more worried about my safety than I was (one problem including an American would have the potential to destroy their entire tourism industry). If given the chance, I would go back in a heartbeat.