An environmentalist from the Earth Policy Institute wandered through Iran recently and offers this report on her surprise at Americas popularity there. It was no doubt disorienting to realize that Iranians are more fond of America than many American environmentalists are.
“Where are you from?” a young man outside one of the many carpet stalls asked me.
Sigh. “The U.S.,” I replied.
“U.S.?” His face screwed up in puzzlement. “U.S., U.S.,” he repeated, brow furrowed, the wheels turning. “Aaah!” the light bulb turned on. “U.S. Aaaahh! United States of America!” his dark eyes now gleaming, looking like he would hug me, were it permitted. “Welcome to Iran!”
Such interactions were repeated many a time throughout my stay in Iran. Curious people, perhaps tipped off by my blue eyes or the awkward positioning of my headscarf, would approach me and ask, in English, where I was from. After learning that I was from America, their responses varied from the inquisitive to the exuberant: “America! We love America!”