Yours, from Beginning to the Present

Ever since the establishment of the Society, many people have voluntarily dedicated their time and energy to serving the Iranian-Persian community in Victoria. We are planning to feature those previously or currently serving on the Society’s Board of Directors on a regular basis. We will try to highlight their contributions in the form of brief interviews. You can read these interviews on this page.

Hi, could you please introduce yourself?

My name is Ali Givili, born in September 1981 in the beautiful city of Rasht in the evergreen and beautiful northern province of Gilan in Iran.

I finished my undergraduate degree in applied mathematics – applied computer in Iran. Soon after, I started working as an instructor in high schools and universities in Rasht.

Despite my enthusiasm for mathematics, I started learning computer and graphic design and after learning it, I went on to teach this subject as well. I also have a passion for interior design and worked in this area with a few companies in and outside of Iran.

When and why did you come to Victoria?

I left Iran and moved to Victoria in 2019. I came here with my wife, who is currently a graduate student at the University of Victoria.

How did you get to learn about the Iranian-Persian community in Victoria?

I first attended events that were organized by the Iranian Students’ Association at UVic, and I got to know more about the Iranian-Persian community in Victoria. Around that time, I learned about the annual general meeting (AGM) for Victoria Iranian-Persian Cultural Society.

I expressed my interest in volunteering for the Society during the AGM and made my knowledge and experience in graphic design available for the community.

Why did you decide to get involved with the Society?

When I get involved with an organization like this (non-profit), I want my involvement to be more than merely attending its events or using its services. Instead, I try to bring my knowledge and experience to the table and use them to improve that organization. This is the reason I decided to volunteer for and eventually join the Society’s Board of Directors in the last AGM (September 2020). Araz Aghazadeh and I are the newest members of the Board of Directors for the 2020-2021 period.

Could you please give us a highlight of your contributions ever since you have become involved with Society?

Prior to becoming a member of the Board of Directors, I was a member of the Society’s Communications Committee and a volunteer for events (namely Yalda 2019) in the 2019-2020 period. As a member of the Board of Directors, I am also currently a member of both Communications and Services Committees.

My first project was the design of posters and marketing materials for Yalda 2019 and Nowruz 2020 (which was canceled due to COVID-19). I also designed the poster for our Yalda program which happened just a few days ago.

Do you have any memories from your time working with the Society that you would like to share with us?

When preparing for Yalda 2019 event, Mr. Jozi cooked a Persian kebab for lunch for all the volunteers. The food was amazing and delicious. I remember that those days I was new and homesick in Canada, and it was a while that I did not have the chance to eat such tasty Persian food. While eating, I thought to myself that I wish my wife, who was at home, could taste this food as well. while talking to Saeid Rezvani (another volunteer and the master of ceremony for the event), I mentioned that my wife would have really enjoyed this food. As soon as he heard this, Saeid brought me a container with food and asked me to take it for my wife.  It was beautiful and memorable for me and I am thankful for Saeid for making it happen.

Last words?

Currently, all affairs of the Society are conducted in a systematic, coherent, and innovative manner and significant steps are being taken. I am happy to be a part of this team and am sure that a bright and successful future is waiting for Society.

Could you please introduce yourself?

I am Mohammad Reza Nabizadeh Shahrbabak, a member of the Board of Directors and the Chair of the Communications Committee at Victoria Iranian-Persian Cultural Society. I earned my Master of Science degree in Civil engineering in 2016 at Iran University of Science and Technology, and due to my interest in business management and my marketing experience at civil engineering firms, I graduated with an MBA degree from the University of Tehran in 2018. I am currently working as a Marketing Manager in a growing start-up based in Victoria.

When and why did you come to Victoria?

My spouse, Vida Saeedzadeh is currently a Ph.D. student in Astronomy and Cosmology and a board member of the Physics and Astronomy Graduate Student Association at the University of Victoria. In September 2019 she was awarded with an admission for her current Ph.D. program and I moved with her from Tehran to Victoria to accompany her during her studies. Within my first few weeks in Victoria, I got involved with the Iranian community and learned about the Society. During a gathering at the University of Victoria, I met Ali Shirazi, current Vice-President of the Society, and he told me about the Society’s activities. Within a month I participated in the Society’s annual general meeting, and I was elected to the Board of Directors. My main purpose of nomination was to support newcomers and develop an efficient communication channel between the Society and the community members.

Why did you decide to get involved with the Society?

My keen interest in participating in volunteering activities always has led me to work with cultural, social, and scientific groups, societies, and NGOs. Because I believe “volunteering activities” are one of the most important and vital factors of improving coherence between different genders, races, and ethnic groups and increasing mutual understanding and tolerance which consequently leads to social development. For this reason, I have never found a period in my life since high school that I have not been involved directly or indirectly in a social and volunteering activity.

Could you please give us a highlight of your contributions ever since you have become involved with Society?

Website and internet platform design are one of my fields of interest and experience. Within the past year, I established and designed the Society’s website which resulted in an innovative and efficient communication channel for the Society. Our website is currently live and serving our members in both Persian and English languages.

Do you have any memories from your time working with the Society that you would like to share with us?

Basically, doing volunteering activities at the Society, like any involvement at any similar society, has its own challenges and opportunities. Increasing community engagement through the Society’s events, introducing members and their profession to each other, and designing exciting events are some of these challenges and opportunities and every single moment of working toward these goals has its own memory of cooperation, empathy, sacrifice, creativity, and social tolerance. But what distinguishes this society from other societies is the notion of “migration”. Migration is the common characteristic of most members of the Iranian-Persian community. This concept poses serious challenges and unique opportunities. So, the Society should try to design and deliver its services in a manner that responds to this shared experience of “migration” and bring it together with other concepts such as success and happiness.

Last words?

When we offer a voluntary service to our community, we feel positive about it because the community has served us at all stages of our growth, and we have learned from its members and enjoyed being with them. To sum up, what makes me happy and satisfied in my work-life balance is helping everyone in my community, … a community that includes us, accepts us, and teaches us.

Could you please introduce yourself?

My name is Fatemeh Davaridoust, and I was born in Tehran. My education is in Industrial Engineering and the most of my work experience is in the area of project control in Oi and Gas projects. I love to travel as well!

When and why did you come to Victoria?

I moved to Victoria in July 2017, when I got a job offer in this beautiful city. I moved here from Calgary.

How did you get to learn about the Society?

In September 2019, I learnt via an email that the Society’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) was going to take place shortly. Until then, I had no idea about such a community in Victoria. In fact, I received that email in an unexpected way. Looking back at how I came to learn about the Society, I think that this was such a great thing that happened to me because it gave me the opportunity to get to know this community.

Why did you decide to get involved with the Society?

Before that AGM I did not know that the Society existed. Therefore, I was not involved with the Society prior to that AGM.

Why did you decide to be a member of the Society’s Board of Directors?

During the meeting I learnt that there was going to be an election for the Board of Directors. I actually did not intend to stand for elections, but my spouse nominated me without my knowledge. This is how I started my journey at the Board of Directors.

Could you please give us a highlight of your contributions ever since you have become involved with Society?

Shortly after the AGM, and at the beginning of the new Board’s activities in late September 2019, we all were focused on planning the 2019 Yalda Night Celebration. With the work of our team and volunteers we managed to have a great celebration that year.

Afterwards, I became a voting member of both Services Committee and Governance Committee of the Society. In the Governance Committee, we have been working hard to establish and strengthen the legal foundations of the Society. We have developed several policies and are currently working on amending the Society’s Constitution and Bylaws. In the Services Committee we have discussed numerous ideas, and are currently focused on providing information for newcomers and reopening Farsi classes. We are working on online educational platforms as well. As I said, there are many ideas, but we are struggling because we lack financial resources for making our ideas happen.

Do you have any memories from your time working with the Society that you would like to share with us?

I want to share two! The first one is about the day I got elected to the Board of Directors. I was surprised to find out that my name was on the list of nominees, so when my name was called, I went up and said that “this is a mistake because I haven’t nominate myself.” I did not know that my husband had nominated me! Well, that was already too late, and I am glad that this way my journey with the Society began.

The second one is about happened in winter 2019. After our Board meeting at UVic. Mr. Kanani was giving me, Mr. Shahinfar, and Mr. Shirazi a ride home. Closer to Mr. Shahinfar’s place, I noticed a medlar tree, which I had seen before. I love medlar. I asked Mr. Kanani to stop the car so I could have a closer look. That tree had a ton of medlar! Of course, I did not touch the tree. A year after, however, I went there again with my husband and with the permission of the owner picked some medlars. They were delicious!

To be honest, every moment of working for the Society has been a great memory for me.

Last words?

I hope with the involvement of our members we can build a more lively and active community here in Victoria!

Could you please introduce yourself?

My name is Hadi Jafari and I am 38 years old. I am currently studying at the University of Victoria while working in the field of finance on a part-time basis.

How did you end up in Victoria?

I came to Victoria in 2019 because I got admission from the University.

How did you get to learn about Society?

The answer to this and many other questions in my life is Ali Shirazi, who has been a dear friend of mine for the past 25 years. When I arrived, Ali was already a member of the Society’s Board of Directors and this meant that I got to learn about and engaged with the Society very soon as well.

Why did you decide to get involved with the Society?

I do not do volunteering work to fulfill a social responsibility; instead, I do it because I believe that volunteering is an opportunity for finding a sense of belonging to something, somewhere, or someone! I got involved because I was searching for that sense of belonging in this city and in this community.

How did you end up being a member of the Board of Directors?

During the 2019 Annual General Meeting, I found energy and positivity among the group of individuals who wanted to stand in the elections to the Board of Directors. I felt that I wanted to be a part of that energetic team. As time went by, it was proven to me that I was not wrong, and I am so happy that I am a part of this team and serving my community.

Since your elections to the Board of Directors, what were some of your responsibilities and contributions?

Since the beginning, I have been charged with the responsibility of being the Society’s Treasurer. My goal has been to help Society with its financial affairs. During my tenure, I have made sure to release periodic financial reports to increase financial transparency. That being said, early in our term we were hit by the current COVID-19 pandemic and our financial activities have become highly limited as well. This actually has been my greatest regret as well because if the pandemic had not stopped us, I am sure that we would have many exciting and engaging events and activities.

Do you have a memory that you want to share with us?

With no doubt, my best memory is the Yalda Night (winter solstice) celebration in December 2019. It was a successful event that I think all our guests enjoyed. I really enjoyed it too because not only it was fun and joyful, but because I could see that all our hard work in the preparations paid off! It was a beautiful night that I very much enjoyed.

Last words?

My involvement with the Society helped me to get to know many new people and expand my friends’ circle, which I believe is an extraordinary blessing for any newcomer. Therefore, I especially invite all newcomers to start volunteering!