LIMELIGHT INTERVIEW WITH MINA EMAM
One Woman’s Journey Through Culture, Language, and Travel
Mina Emam sits down with us to discuss her professional experience as an International Student Counselor in Tehran, Iran as well as her own perspectives on travel and the current state of our world.
Mina Emam’s smile is audible as she expresses what a dream it would be for her to travel to Ireland and experience its culture and the sights it has to offer. Her passion for travel shines through as she reflects on her career in international education over the past 12 years. Although travel has been almost impossible recently, Emam maintains an infectious and refreshing outlook of hope.
Despite the impact of challenges that recent events such as COVID-19, the Trump Administration, and Brexit have had on the students she oversees at Mava International Study, Emam seems hopeful that life and travel can return to what it was. “During these years, we’ve faced many challenges and many issues,” she says, “but, we continue.”
She is hardly one to back down in the face of a challenge. Being a woman in the international education field alone has had its advantages and disadvantages. “I believe my gender was effective in my career path as people trust me more than if I was a man and they rely on me and they feel comfortable with me,” she explains -- noting the benefits that her gender may have had on her career, “But the other perspective is if I was a man, I would earn more and I could be more successful financially.”
Regardless of gender norms, Emam continues to be a successful and powerful voice that instigates hope through her position at Mava International Study. As an International Student Counselor, she has forged connections with students who have studied globally throughout the past 12 years and made individual bonds so strong that she is still in contact with many of them today.
“The things I do for students changes their lives and their career paths,” she notes, “I see how I can be effective in other people’s lives.” She further mentions that the students themselves have worked hard to stay in contact with her over the years and that many of them have told her directly how much her work has shifted their lives.
What sets Emam apart from many international educators is the passion with which she herself discusses travel and cultural and linguistic immersion. The excitement that she exudes when discussing her own travels and experiences moves beyond treating this career as a simple job and shifts into sharing something deeply meaningful to her with the students and people that surround her.
Emam grew up and is currently based in Tehran, Iran and speaks about her country with tremendous pride and enthusiasm. “If you don’t visit Iran and its nature and people and cultures, I believe you are missing a big experience in your life,” she says, “ we have so much beauty here… It is a beautiful country and the people are very kind in every city.”
Traveling within Iran recently, Emam expresses that, “when visiting different people and different cultures, it is so amazing and new for [her], even being Iranian.”
Having grown up in Iran, Emam speaks Persian fluently, has been speaking English since she was a child, and has also studied German. Her interest in other cultures and experience in multiple languages makes her unique and deeply perceptive.
Emam has held this international education position for over a decade now and has faced countless challenges and obstacles. Her response to these challenges is that “I am hopeful for the future.” A refreshing and effortless response to the hardships that continue to impact her career and life every single day. Emam continues to push forward and bring life-changing experiences to an entire new generation.
Simply and elegantly put, “it is a great experience to know people.” Mina Emam seems to approach her career based on personal connections, fresh perspectives, and passion. Which is why, when met with the opportunity to discuss another potential travel endeavor to Ireland, Emam’s voice shifts and the excitement she exudes resembles what I can only imagine are the same reactions from the students she mentors every day.
- Interview by Global Leadership League member and volunteer, Sabrina Vitale
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