MECP Cultural Stories Initiative

The MECP Cultural Stories Initiative is an exciting new project that draws upon the Middle Eastern tradition of storytelling to highlight the diverse personal experiences present in our community. The initiative invites any and all individuals at UConn or in the greater Connecticut community who identify as Middle Eastern to share stories about their culture. These stories will then be showcased on a rolling basis on our website.

Examples of appropriate submissions could include, but are not limited to: pieces focused on an individual’s experience as a first or second generation Middle Eastern immigrant; pieces that highlight a certain aspect of the individual’s culture, such as a holiday they celebrate and its importance to their culture and heritage; and pieces about ways in which an individual’s identity as a Middle Eastern person has shaped their lived experiences. Submissions should be at least one paragraph but no more than four pages in length, double-spaced. We encourage those interested in submitting a piece to do so regardless of the extent of their writing skills or experience—all submissions will be reviewed by MECP coordinators to ensure that they comply with university guidelines before they are placed on the MECP website. Submissions may also be edited to ensure compatibility with the organization’s requirements, including proper grammar, formatting, relevant content, etc.

The submission form will provide individuals with the option to indicate whether they would like to be contacted by an MECP coordinator to discuss their story and any concerns they may have. There is no deadline to submit a story; the form will accept submissions on a rolling basis.

Click the link provided here to submit your story to the MECP Cultural Stories Initiative. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us at

By: Atena (Fatemeh Delavari)

Nowruz is coming, and one of my friends plays an old song by Farhad about the holiday. It goes, “booye eidi, booye toop, booye kaghaz rangi.” The smell of Nowruz, he says, is signified by the smell of those cheap, plastic balls children play with, and the colored paper they draw on. Those sharp, distinctive scents mix with the fresh spring air, and you know that Nowruz is near. Yet, I am not familiar with this smell – perhaps they don’t belong to my generation, but to the generation of my parents and grandparents. What, I wonder then, is the smell of Nowruz for us? “Fekr ghashogh zadane ye dokhtare chador siah, shoge yek khize boland az rooye boote haye noor,” he sings. Nowruz is the thought of a girl dressed in a black chador banging a spoon against a bowl in front of someone’s front door, waiting for them to come out and fill the bowl with sweets. Nowruz is the excitement of jumping over the towering flames of a bonfire during Charshanbesoori, a special celebration held the Wednesday before Nowruz. These memories, though, do not exist vividly in my mind. I have but a hazy picture of the scarlet fire of Charshanbesoori; I can barely hear the clanging of spoons. I remember an article I read recently about Charshanbesoori; it was talking about how the way the celebration is held in Iran today is more so meant to defy the regime than it is to celebrate a tradition. I don’t know how much I agree with this remark, but it makes me remember all of the ideological and political dialogues between my relatives during Nowruz. Maybe, I wonder, that was the scent of Nowruz for our generation: the smell of politics and ideology and the tension that came along with it. I cannot be certain how many of my peers can relate to this terrible smell, but I am sure that most of us do not want the next generation to associate Nowruz with the same odor.

By: Sahar Fallah

It is me who has been captured,

The best combination of the virtual world and the physical world.

One of you probably pm’ed me, and to my surprise, you asked me if I was feeling well,

“Yes of course I’m okay” I said in response. I sent an emoji, too, just so you could be sure.

But don’t believe everything you hear.

Recently, I was thinking about how I will be entering my fifth year of being an immigrant

What can I even say about being an immigrant for five years? 

I call it five years of losing moments of my life,

Five years of losing my sense of normalcy,

Five years of expertly shoving everything under the rug.


Let me explain by painting you a picture of my thoughts; it will only be a few words.

In the physical world, you sleep, you walk, you get angry…

You get sick, you get headaches…

But in the virtual world? None of this exists.

Everything is sunshine and rainbows.

Everyone is starry-eyed,

And if there is to be sickness, you would never witness it.

We’ve all become experts at hiding the pain in these years we’ve spent away from home.

So I guess that everything’s alright, besides when your back is to the light and only half of you is illuminated against the darkness. 

The other half, the half shrouded in darkness, exists only outside of our screens.

In real life, you walk alongside people, your stride matching theirs;

If you wish to walk with someone online, it will only be your upper body they see, and the shakiness of the camera as it records your portrait.

And if the camera were to accidentally shift, you would be astounded by the sight of feet and hands below the perfect, poised face.

So these are some of the most unremarkable things that being an immigrant has denied me.

And if you wanted to act especially enlightened and forward-thinking, 

or say that sadness and sickness just come with being a long distance away from home,

And if you were to say that I should just go in front of the camera – everything will pass and be just fine…

That would ignore how, for them, the sight of my distraught visage would play over and over again like the terrible sound a scratched CD makes – now where did that come from?

Fifteen minutes pass: are you feeling better?

Thirty minutes pass: how about now?

Forty-five minutes pass: and now?

I keep telling myself to have patience – have a little patience, Sahar, the time is near – you can call them soon,

And have their previous image of you fade away.

In solace and comfort they can now carry on with their lives…

Do not try to capture me.