May 28, 2015

Today, we celebrated the graduation of our ESL students at Pars Equality Center in San Jose. Upon the successful completion of the course, spanning over 8 weeks and X hours, more than 25 recent newcomers achieved conversational proficiency. Congratulations and a huge thanks to our dedicated ESL teacher Sonia. To learn more about our educational courses, click here.

May 26, 2015

Today, Pars Founder and Director, Bita Daryabari was honored at the Annual Awards Dinner by the World Affairs Council. The mission of the Council is to explore issues and opportunities that transcend borders. Each year, the Council and its project the Global Philanthropy Forum hosts an Awards Dinner to honor Bay Area leaders who have significantly influenced the world in which we live, work and learn. This Spring, they celebrated the outsized contributions made to our economy and culture by exceptional individuals born abroad, but living here. Among them are extraordinary leaders, whose impact is substantial, the 2015 honorees work across sectors, from tech, business, health, the arts and more. 

Daryabari Iranian Community Center

April 9, 2015

We are delighted to officially open the Daryabari Iranian Community Center, the permanent new home to Pars Equality Center (PEC) headquarters and the first and most comprehensive non-profit legal, social and community support center providing direct services to Iranians and other Persian-speaking nationals in the United States. Spanning two floors and 13,000ft2, the building’s first floor is comprised of a welcoming reception area, five individual classrooms, a computer lab and a large communal event space. The second floor hosts PEC and consists of administrative offices which ensure the seamless operational aspects of all three PEC locations across California (Menlo Park, San Jose, Los Angeles).

The Center places great emphasis on swiftly responding to the community’s needs.  Its programming spans multiple categories, including social/legal services and counsel; job training and placement; mentorship; and senior/elderly support.  During any given week, classes offered include English as a Second Language (ESL); Citizenship classes; tax advisory services (for low-income newcomers); legal advice (both on regional and federal matters); and basic computer training.  Various workshops are available and coordinated on an as-needed basis.  For the Silver Club programming (55+yo), well-being courses, including yoga and meditation, are offered alongside music appreciation and other hobbies. The center is a crucial hub and resource for every member and age group of the community, and it is the first of its kind offering such a centralized and coordinated facility addressing every need of its participants.

Maz Jobrani 

February 19, 2015

As the countdown to our annual fundraising gala begins, we had the chance to catch up with celebrated comedian Maz Jobrani for a few minutes while on tour for his memoir I’m not a Terrorist but I’ve Played One on TV.

PARS: Given you’re a stage performer by nature, how did you find the writing process?

MZ: Intimidating. As a stand-up comedian, the creative process develops bit by bit. Writing a typical joke takes at most a small paragraph and is executed on stage in a matter of 15-30 seconds tops. Imagine turning that into 200 pages; it was daunting to say the least. I did try cheating by lobbying for pictures and a smaller word count, but editor wouldn’t have it. So I had to write the whole thing.

PARS: Why did you choose comedy?

MZ: I was always a fan of comedy as a kid. As the son of Persian immigrants, the expectation was that I’d be a lawyer or a doctor, but I stuck with it. I realized early on that life is short and you have to love what you do, every single moment.

PARS: What is your hope for this memoir?

MZ: I hope it will bring enjoyment. And there’s certainly an expectation of a little humor. My hope is that readers will see how similar and universal all our life experiences are. There are funny anecdotes, but I think people will see a certain degree of normalization in terms of people from the Middle East. I hope it helps address and change the negative images and stereotype that still exist.

PARS: How has being Iranian and being raised in California defined you?

MZ: I loved growing up in Marin. It filled me with the liberal ideals which I continue to hold to this day. Equally, I’m intensely happy and proud to be Iranian: it is a people and culture who value community, and is incredibly supportive and respectful of its members.

PARS: Tell us something we don’t already know?

MZ: I’m trying to eat right at the moment. Salads with balsamic vinaigrettes are a bit boring, but you gotta stay fit. I really do love Persian food. All the Persian restaurants in California are delicious. If I had my pick though, I’d got to Darya in LA.

PARS: What’s next?

MZ: As a creative person, I spend about half of my time doing creative work and the other half selling it. Life is busy. I’ve finished a film called Jimmy Vestvood: Amerikan Hero which is something of a Persian Pink Panther meets Borat. It premiered at the Austin Film Festival, so I’m now working on getting distribution for it. Be ready for it before the end of the year!

I’m Not a Terrorist but I Played One on TV is out now and available here