Bombs, guns, terror, nuclear war, fear, tyrants... These are the images and feelings the Western world want you to have of Iran. And, sadly, these are some of the images that had been imbedded in my mind for years. But, boy, was I wrong.
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3 Jul 2013 - 4:41 PM  UPDATED 6 Sep 2013 - 9:31 AM

Instead, I met some of the most beautiful people I have ever met in my life. Endless generosity and humility. Such an amazing country, rich in history, culture, art, poetry and food. I could have lost myself in Iran.

I felt a change when leaving Iran. It was eye-opening seeing the Iranian perspective on the world and global issues. I listened to people speak of the way they're perceived, and how all the sanctions placed on them by the Western world affect them and their families. Hearing their dreams, listening to their stories and seeing the hope in their eyes for a brighter future touched my soul.

I felt as though the negative focus could be placed on others, rather than having Iran made to look like the bad guys. I was seeing first-hand contradictions in the acceptance of rights of an independent nation to protect its people, provide essential resources and trade freely with the rest of the free world. All these things really shifted my views on who I am, what I stand for and made me question if we're just as bad as those being sanctioned. Are we hypocrites?

I'm not trying to make a political statement. I don't take politics very seriously and, to be honest, I think most of it is a joke – a facade that covers up the real issues that aren't being addressed. These are just my views, what I felt and what I experienced during my time in Iran. I'm not trying to change the world or influence anyone. I'm not protesting with a picket sign or taking up arms. I'm just saying it as I saw it and, more importantly, as I felt it. It changed me for the better, opened my eyes, made me feel something. That's all we can try and do with the little time we have on this earth. Feel, love, share and care. I experienced all of this in this amazing Persian paradox.

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