سلام حال شما چطور؟
(Hello, how are you?)
This semester has been an exciting one for those of us students interested in the rich history of Iran and the Persianate world. Following on from student interest, Drs Arezou Azad and Narges Mahpeykar began work to create a Persian language enrichment module and I was fortunate enough to be privy to the fruits of their labour. As someone who has only relatively recently developed an interest in Iran, this new module has offered insights, both linguistic and cultural, that really help to bring the historical study of the region to life.
The teaching for the module has been interactive, insightful and – dare I say it – genuinely a lot of fun. When learning a new language, especially one making use of an alternate alphabet to one’s mother tongue, you really need a teacher with a deft take on making things memorable. We are indeed fortunate to have found one. Lessons often take a practical approach, activities and language games make this module into an encouraging environment to learn, where the whiteboard is not the be-all and end-all. It is also the first time in my life where being left-handed is a genuine advantage!
Dr. Mahpeykar is also knowledgeable on different iterations on the language, which is especially helpful for someone like me who is predominantly interested in medieval Iran. However, the course has attracted students from many different historical backgrounds, and you can just as easily find modern and ancient history students amongst the medieval mix. Many of us are looking to simply broaden our historical horizons, but there is a sense of practical application within the lessons; some are looking to use the support provided by Dr Mahpeykar to potentially inform their postgraduate decisions. I hope to eventually complete a PhD myself, and I cannot deny the allure of medieval and early modern Iran which this module has come to foster in me.
This opportunity has been made available to us due to the generous contributions of CeSMA and the University of Birmingham. I cannot stress enough how profoundly reassuring it is to not only be able to pursue these interests in a political climate which denigrates expenditures in the Arts and Humanities, but also to have such interests taken into consideration and acted upon by the staff of my department. I speak for all the students of the module when I say متشکرم! (Thank you!)
Dr Narges Mahpeykar, Instructor of Persian level 1:
This spring I had the pleasure to teach Persian at University of Birmingham. I had a wonderful experience teaching students from different language backgrounds and with profound interests in Persian history and culture. The students’ enthusiasm and desire to learn the language despite having other academic commitments was very rewarding. I am truly glad to have been part of this experience!
This module will run as a for-credit option in History from the next academic year. Last semester, it was non-credit option while running as a pilot. The positive reviews and active participation by the students certainly proves that the pilot has succeeded and we look forward to expanding this further.