Our Story

Let’s Change How We Think About Iran

* Kurdish celebration of Nowruz at Nane Village near Marivan Province of Kurdistan, Iran. In Kurdish Culture, Nowruz is considered as the most significant festival of year. It is the first day of the Solar Hijri Calendar and Spring and a symbol of end of darkness and cold.
Photo by Mina Jazayeri

Apparatus for Challenging Iranophobia

See You in Iran (SYI) is an economic, social, and cultural travel platform helping to build new connections between Iranians and non-Iranians, as well as promoting more nuanced understandings of Iran. This platform, both physical and online, aims to intervene in the common connections and imaginations of Iran. The main source of connections and imaginations is currently structured by the global ‘Iranophobia’ project, endorsed by Western media and political elites. SYI aims to help change these forms of connections and imaginations, by enabling creative, tangible, and personal connections among people and by opening up new spaces for creation, interaction, and organization inside Iran.

Online Community

See You in Iran was initially created as an apparatus to change existing connections and allow building virtual ‘counter-connections’: a way to confront the common misconceptions, obsessions, and manufactured realities associated with a constructed image of ‘Iran’. The strategy was to provide and grow a platform in which, contrary to the usual top-down structures of mass media, See You in Iran’s Facebook group members share and publicize personal narratives from and about Iran. Group members were encouraged to contribute to the group through sharing their memories, perceptions and experiences of traveling to Iran. Creating new realities through sharing generally unheard narratives and building bottom-up social relations opened up new possibilities to learn and critically engage with living and traveling in Iran.

Hostel

However, the scope and effectiveness of this mechanism of alternative virtual connection are limited. The idea of opening a hostel in Tehran was grounded in our political faith in the power of physical space in shaping the social life and creating face-to-face connections. The hostel thus became a platform for the embodiment of virtual connections into a corporeal socio-cultural form. Our hostel aims to circumvent borders, diaspora disconnections and other limitations that obstruct direct contact between locals and travelers by relocating interactions domestically.

Photos by See You in Iran Facebook Group Members
Click on images to see in full size

Cultural House

The See You in Iran Hostel was soon followed by our next project: See You in Iran Cultural House. Besides economic and political sanctions that have been imposed on Iran for decades, Iran has also endured long-standing cultural isolation. We believe that the internationally recognized cultural products from Iran have mostly been responding to a market, marked by its orientalist gaze and exotic expectations. To reverse this process, we tend to present internationally consumable cultural material in hope of changing this imaginative connection that has led into destructive sociopolitical outcomes.

In addition to contributing to the development of unique virtual and physical spaces for cultural exchange, See You in Iran is excited to be promoting alternative business models. Our large team of passionate Iranian youth highly values horizontal and democratic organizational structure. As a result, the See You in Iran organization is working towards becoming a cooperative.

See You in Iran Facebook Group

A community

for a better world

Our Facebook group was founded in August 2015 as a member-run space for countering Iranophobia through people’s unfiltered narratives about traveling to Iran. After a year it developed into an active community of over 120k people that serves cultural and educational purposes and invites members to have constructive discussions on issues, relevant to traveling to Iran, which will eventually result in a more tourist-friendly cultural environment.

Join us in Facebook group

SYI Team: Borderless Cooperative

The See You in Iran team is an aspiring cooperative consisting of domestic and diaspora Iranians who are passionate about combating Iranophobia, cultivating interactive spaces, producing critical socio-cultural contents and co-developing horizontal and democratic organizational structures.

Navid Yousefian

Founder & Executive Director

Navid is a Tehran-native with a background in engineering, film studies, and social sciences. He's currently a Political Science PhD student at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Navid's interests in cultural exchanges, fighting Iranophobia, creating an employee-owned organization, and having an Iran-centered and globally-oriented cultural house led to him creating the See You in Iran group and launching Kojeen: SYI Cafe-Hostel.

Mahsa Vafaie

Copy Writer

Mahsa calls Tehran home, but currently resides in Germany finishing her Master's degree in Language and Communication Technologies. She joined the SYI team at its birth and her interest in public information, alternative media, and cultural exchanges has attached her to the group ever since. She can't wait to hang out at Kojeen and meet new people there.

Babak Novin

Marketing & Web Designer

Babak, 30, is a Tehran-native with a background in IT engineering, education and cultural projects. His experiences in directing cultural-educational projects in University of Tehran and some schools, and his vision led him to be a part of SYI. He's a social activist, so eager to learn, and attracted in any kind of creativity and innovation, interested in social issues and committed to create empowerment opportunities for everyone.

Feiz-Ahmad Vali Zadeh

Maintenance Supervisor

Feiz-Ahmad is a 21-year-old Harat native who just recently moved to Iran from Afghanistan. His interests in the See You in Iran team and Kojeen's environment commit him to our community. During Feiz-Ahmad's downtime he likes to study and practice music.

Mina Jazayeri

Media Block Manager

Mina is a Tehran-native and travel enthusiast with a background in design and is also working as a freelance photographer. Mina's passion for cultural exchange lead her to See You in Iran and she's now developing a topical photo journal out of its Instagram page.

Rabee Heidarnejad

Event Manager

Rabee was born in Tehran. She completed her Bachelor’s degree in psychology. Rabee joined the SYI team to help them to renovate the hostel, but found her niche in the travel board where she serves as a member. She is passionate about art, music, animals and eco-tourism.

Amin Banitaba

Project Coordinator

Amin, 26, is from Tehran. He likes photography and travel to cities and open their maps, like a video game. Very interested about communities, which is why he had joined See You in Iran. To have a collective community experience. His favorite quote is ``Collective man! Collective!`` Er kann auch ausreichend Deutsch sprechen.

Amir Tehrani

R&D

Amir, 32, was born and raised in Tehran. He has a background in the social sciences and has conducted research on urban mobility in Tehran. His socio-cultural experiences and interest in building alternative organizations motivated him to be a part of the See You in Iran. Swimming and most importantly woodworking are his main hobbies.

Tina Alaei

Receptionist & Chef

Tina, 23, is a chef at Kojeen and also one of the editors of the See You in Iran Facebook page. She studies theater literature and is passionate about scenario writing and choreography. She has always been eager to find global ways for people to connect without their relationships being affected by the interference of the media. Now she has finally found what she was looking for, a place to hear and be heard freely.

M Reza Karfar

Tour Guide

Reza is a Tehran-native who lived in India and studied architecture. He's passionate about vernacular and traditional architecture. Reza's interests include documentary making and traveling to marginalized areas. In addition, he's involved with See You in Iran because he believes it is a unique platform for experience-sharing.

Nima Shokraei

Development Team Member

Nima is based in Tehran and graduated from Queensland University of Technology with a degree in civil and structural engineering. Nima is passionate about cultural diversity which led him to See You in Iran where he is working to confront the destructive, fabricated images of Iran.

Salome Ghods Moghaddam

Internal Manager

Salome was introduced to the See You in Iran Hostel while contemplating a change in her previous careers as industrial engineer, urban designer, and teacher. She was tired of bureaucratic corporations and was looking forward to have more to do with people. ``Perhaps this`` she thought, ``could be the place through which I can fulfill my passion for effecting change through individuals, including myself.``

Parham Zabeti

Parham was born and raised in Tehran and is living in Toronto, Canada. Parham Zabeti is an aerospace engineer. He's passionate about travel, culture and design and loves cooking especially Persian!

Sogand Afkari

Sogand is an east coast Iranian American with a background in non-profit outreach and Iranian studies who moved to Tehran to do a six-month Farsi course. That was four years ago. In addition to still working on her Farsi, Sogand is pursuing an M.A. in Iranian history and through See You in Iran is fulfilling her teenage dream of dismantling the disconnections between Iranians, its diaspora and the west.

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