Funny in Any Language

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On Sept. 15, Sage Hill High School will be hosting Firoozeh Dumas, author of the national bestseller “Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America.”

When se was in second grade, Dumas’ father, an engineer with the National Iranian Oil Company, had been assigned as a consultant for two years in Whittier. It was 1972. Dumas points out ,“I was lucky to have come to America years before the political upheaval in Iran. The Americans we encountered were kind and curious, unafraid to ask questions and willing to listen.”

Throughout the book Dumas, with tremendous honesty and humor, reveals the humiliation and excitement associated with being an immigrant in America.  With each chapter, Dumas not only shares her experiences, but holds up a mirror for Americans to take a look at our preconceived notions and quirks. Both the good and the embarrassing.  Dumas is all for equal rights though, as she unabashedly pokes fun at her own family and culture, too.

One of the funniest chapters has Dumas describing what an obstacle immigrants face with their names.  “My name, Firoozeh, chosen by my mother, means ‘Turquoise’ in Persian. In America, it means, ‘Unpronounceable’ or ‘I’m Not Going to Talk to You Because I Cannot Possibly Learn Your Name and I Just Don’t Want to Have to Ask You Again and Again Because You’ll Think I’m Dumb or You Might Get Upset or Something.’”

After returning to Iran for a few years, Dumas came back with her family to America with her father’s new job in 1976. They settled in Newport Beach, “a coastal town where everyone is blond and sails.”

It was during her family’s stay in Newport Beach that the Iranian Revolution took place and Americans were taken hostage. Suddenly Iranians living in America were seen in a very different light.  Dumas can even find humor in the darkest days of her stay here, “We were asked our opinion on the hostages so often that I started reminding people that they weren’t in our garage.”

“Funny in Farsi” has taken the country by storm and has ended up being on required reading lists in schools.  Dumas breaks down walls and stereotypes, readers cannot help but hear the genuineness in Dumas’ voice.  Unlike the forced, formulaic curriculum of a sensitivity training class, “Funny in Farsi” teaches us more than one lesson in humility and humanity. You will come away reading “Funny in Farsi” with a reminder to laugh more.

Sage Hill always brings in superb speakers and authors and Firoozeh Dumas’ visit will be no exception.

The free event will begin at 10:50 a.m. in the Sage Hill School Ueberroth Gymnasium (“the Ube”). RSVPs are not required. 20402 Newport Coast Drive, Newport Coast; (949) 219-0100.



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