Iranian Alliances Across Borders: Dialogue with Melody Moezzi (By Dina Ajalli)

As the campers responsible for wake up call knocked on every door, campers gradually awakened for Day 3 of SLI. Some counselors led a group discussion on “what it means be cool”, and others continued to build teamwork skills with puzzles. Later, a massive camper wide game of rock-paper-scissor train allowed campers to support and encourage each other.

The energized campers then attended an Emory auditorium for a Skype call with Melody Moezzi, an activist, lawyer, and the author of Haldol and Hyacinths. A thoughtful and eye-opening Q&A followed before campers praised Moezzi with a well-deserved standing ovation. Campers left with a sense of understanding and awareness about mental health in the Iranian community.

Following Moezzi’s incredible talk, counselor groups debriefed the guest lecture. Returning camper Sara Jadbabaie insightfully commented, “We talked about how there’s a lot of stigma associated with mental illness and that a lot of people weren’t aware of that stigma.” Many like Jadbabaie praised Moezzi’s approach towards speaking to the campers, remarking, “I think not only did the guest speaker make the need for open-mindedness clear around mental health, but she also made it clear that just in general we need to be more accepting of people.” Post-lecture, the atmosphere transformed in a way that helped some to be more mindful of their surroundings and sympathetic towards others.

As the sun set each team finished preparing for a night to show off their group dynamic and talent in team chants. From the Mehmoonis (Parties) to the Babaees (Sheep), the comedic and creative groups thoroughly impressed their audience with camp-related lyrics to popular songs and puns referring to both Farsi and English. The night consisted of irrepressible laughter and campers danced the night away until lights out.