This week, five American students began a two-year master’s program in Iranian studies at Tehran University, the head of the department where US citizens were denied visas for years saw this as a real breakthrough.
“This really is a breakthrough,” says Mahdi Ahouie, head of the Department of Iranian Studies, which under the Faculty of World Studies runs the foreign student program.
In addition to the American students, five British nationals and one Canadian were also accepted for the master’s program at Tehran University.
By contrast, Iranian education officials stated last week that 8,800 Iranians were studying in the US, with 6,000 in Germany and 4,000 in the UK.
“My hope is they will take the genuine picture of the country back with them,” Ahouie said. “What we suffer from in Iran – in US, Western and Arab relations – is they don’t have an accurate image, but just live with fantasies of Iranians as very scary people, living with a Middle Ages mentality.”
“The only way for us to normalize relations with the world is to let more foreigners in and see for themselves,” he says.