Iranian-American groups emerge in every crevice of the country, from coast to coast. This can be seen in Minneapolis at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities and their Persian Student Organization of Minnesota – known as PSOM. Leading the organization as co-president is Leyla Taghizadeh, a sophomore majoring in Neuroscience and minoring in Spanish. PSOM was founded in 2012 and has blossomed into a group that brings the university and the town’s Iranian-American community together. The central love for Iranian culture is evident, with the club often hosting group events to view Iranian films, learn how to cook Iranian food, and other activities to showcase Iranian culture and history.
PSOM celebrates large scale events as well as holding fundraisers and regular meetings for their members. Their largest event of the year is their Nowruz party: “Every year for the Persian new year, we throw a party gathering Persians across Minnesota, giving them a space to rejoice and celebrate the coming of the new year. The evening is full of good food, company, and dancing all highlighting Persian culture. It is also a space that we invite other cultures to join and learn about the Iranian community and how we celebrate the coming of a new year. ”
However, their large events don’t stop there. Every fall, PSOM hosts a large picnic fundraiser to raise money for the organization and their events for the year. This fundraiser is more than just a picnic; it represents a celebration of the Iranian-American community at the University of Minnesota: “Traditional Iranian soup (Ash-e Reshteh) and tea (chai) are provided and there are games (soccer, frisbee, and football) that people can play. Iranian music is on full blast while people can dance, socialize and enjoy an environment full of Iranian culture.” The fall picnic fundraiser has grown to become a celebration of Persian culture to ring in the new academic year of PSOM.
The beauty of organizations like PSOM is that their presence is felt beyond just the Iranian-American community. Leyla herself has seen the organization’s involvement with their town: “I have grown up in Minneapolis and have attended PSOM events my whole life.” She also recognizes that the organization blossoms by creating an inclusive environment to help educate all students on Iranian culture, “While we provide a space for Iranians to come together, we also try to share our culture with others by inviting people of other heritages to our events. We are attempting to teach anyone who is willing to listen about the joys of being an Iranian American.” PSOM represents the intersection of creating a space for students to embrace their culture as well as create a more closely-knit community, while simultaneously opening up the beauties of Iranian-American culture to the entire university.
By Ariane Sharifi