I find it incredibly interesting that of all the OU events I have attended in the past year, the vast majority of them have related to the Middle East, and in particular to the refugee crisis and its impacts around the globe. Every time I saw a flyer for an event related to this topic, I jumped at the chance to learn more about this incredibly complex and current topic.
Cyrus Copeland’s lecture on his book Off the Radar: A Father’s Secret, A Mother’s Heroism, and A Son’s Quest was one such event that I immediately cleared my schedule to attend. In part, I was curious about Copeland himself: almost forty years ago, his father was accused of being a CIA agent in Iran and was arrested, so his wife became the first female lawyer in Iran’s history in order to defend him in court. But I was also intrigued with the opportunity to learn more about any piece of Iran’s history and culture, no matter how insignificant.
When I arrived at the lecture, I immediately felt out of place. I felt out of my element, as the majority of the other students and professors were either Iranian themselves or were deeply involved in the Arabic and Middle Eastern Studies programs at OU. But Cyrus Copeland’s lecture was engaging and enlightening as he examined the stigma with which Americans continue to view Iranians and told several short stories of his own experiences as an America who grew up in Iran. It did frustrate me slightly that the lecture’s main question–was his father really an undercover CIA agent?–was never answered in the lecture, but Cyrus was a compelling enough story teller that I would gladly read his book in the future to find out for myself.
Overall, this event opened my eyes to the tensions that still exist between Americans and Iranians today. I look forward to learning more about this topic in the future, since our lack of forgiveness and cooperation remains a very current and tense issue.