Middle East
Teacher's Guide

April 1, 2000 Update
Remember, the "Kids' Versions" are aimed at K-6.

Check out this date's update
The team generated the following reports: Try the following activities:

Abeja - Trekking the Silk Road

The team visits several old caravansari along their trip through Turkey and Iran, and discusses the historic Silk Road. The history of the Parthians, the goods traded, and the effects of cultural exchange due to trade between Istanbul, Turkey and Xi'an, China are discussed.

In a sidebar of this dispatch, Abeja brings up some very interesting questions about international trade and the relations between different cultures: "Is the rate of cultural exchange in the world today a good or a bad thing? How is it different from the way it was back in the days of the silk road? Do you think it is an equal exchange, or is it one culture dominating another?" Discuss thee questions with your class.

Brian - Yes, They've Heard of Ricky Martin--and More Answers to Your Questions
Kids' Version available

Brian gives some insight into things in Iran that students might be curious about--the people, the clothing, music and television, cars, and the landscape.

Many of the things Brian talks about are a direct result of the fact that Iran is an Islamic Republic. Cars are different, TV and radio are controlled, clothing is conservative (at least on the surface). Use this dispatch as a jumping off point to discuss the far reaching effects a countries government policies can have on everyday life. What features of your everyday life are greatly influenced by your governments policies? How does your country compare to Iran in this respect?

Jasmine - Spring Forward! Into the Year 1379?
Kids' Version available

The team arrives in Iran just in time for the biggest national holiday of the year: No Ruz, or the Persian New Year. The significance of the new year, which begins on the first day of spring, is discussed as are family traditions and festivities.

In learning about Persian new year traditions, it is interesting to note both similarities and differences with the traditions of Western culture. In the West, people make resolutions during the New Year, which are a kind of declaration of a new beginning. But the Western new year is not tied to the "new beginning" of nature that occurs at springtime, the way it is in Iran. And the symbolic importance of eggs in springtime is a tradition that appears in many cultures (new years in Iran, Easter in the West). Can your class think of any other similarities or differences between Western New Year celebrations and the Persian New Year traditions?

Team - Purim: An Ancient Story Not Soon Forgotten

An exploration of the Jewish holiday Purim, a celebration of the Jewish people and their existence. Discusses the roles of King Ahasuerus, Queen Vashti, Queen Ester, Mordechai, and Haman, in this ancient story of heroines and villains, assassination plots, and good versus evil.

This is a holiday that is based on actual historical fact, a story in which many Jewish people take pride. Can your class think of other holidays that are based on historical fact (or supposed historical fact)? Ask your students to pick a holiday and write up the historical basis for their holiday in 1 to 2 paragraphs. This may require some research and flexibility on the kinds of holidays that can be included in the exercise.

Monica - The Hejab in Iran: Don't Leave Home Without it...
Kids' Version available

The team explores the hejab, or modest dress that is enforced for women in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Includes maknes, roupush, and rousady.

Have your class wrap themselves in bedsheets and try to act normally while not allowing any part of themselves to be uncovered. Discuss different cultures' attitudes towards women and what obstacles women in other countries might have to overcome to perform things that women here do (get a job, go shopping, compete in sports, etc.)

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