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Think Global, Act Local: Bird Of Passage

On any given day, you can often find Mohsen and Alex sharing an authentic Iranian meal at their favorite spot: Saffron Bistro

By: Mohsen Tahmasebi Nasab, Doctoral Candidate in Civil and Environmental Engineering
Photos By: Hillary Ehlen

Adventurous Readers,

March is a special month for me because on the 21st day it is the equinox, the first day of spring and Nowruz (Persian New Year) But foremost, it is my “Thank You Mom For Bringing Me to Earth Day” aka the day I celebrate motherhood because 29 springs ago, my royal and honorable mom gave birth to her son: Alexandre Cyusa.

This month I would love to introduce to you a dear friend: Mohsen Tahmasebi Nasab from Iran. I was fortunate to have met him during a workshop at NDSU in Fall 2016. Right away I was amazed by his assiduity in world cultures and his worldwide traveling experiences. He combines with poise passion for literature, philosophy, and science. He is a doctoral candidate in Civil Engineering-Water Resources Engineering at NDSU. I once read that the third world war was going to be fought over access to water…and the future Dr. Mohsen Tahmasebi Nasab is putting all his heart and soul into finding sustainable water management techniques to avoid such a fatal human catastrophe.

Mohsen has lived in many countries and in any conversations you have with him he will make you travel with his numerous enchanting tales of his personal exploring adventures. The world is smaller and a better place because of noble people like Mohsen. He is a true agent of change, making any community he temporarily calls home better, one meaningful conversation at a time.

Fargo is fortunate to have such a benevolent Iranian representing Persian values of hospitality, sense of community and extreme generosity.      

Until our snowy paths cross again,


Alexandre Cyusa

“Bird of passage” refers to people who stay in a place for a short time before leaving to another place. Throughout my life, I have certainly felt like a bird of passage: looking forward to new adventures, free-spirited and unattached. Because of my father’s job, we used to move from one city to another every three to four years. We lived in cities such as Shiraz, Yazd and Tehran in Iran; Moscow in Russia; and I have been living in Fargo for more than three years.

When I was a kid, it was not easy to deal with leaving and saying goodbye to all those friends that I had been making for four years. However, these constant movements provided me with a golden opportunity that I cherish every single day of my life: making new friends quickly and appreciating friendships while I have the chance. I learned to embrace different forms of diversity in various aspects of my personal and professional life.

My journey in Fargo began in 2015 when I started my doctoral degree at North Dakota State University (NDSU). Although I did not have any relatives or even a single friend in the United States, I was geared up for making lots of friends. To me, the most straightforward approach to form a diverse group of friends is asking questions. It is like learning a new language; as you learn more, you are even more interested.

Sarcastically, one of the perks of being from Iran is that my country has a consistent presence on the media! This means that people have questions and are looking for first-hand experiences. I have been asked various questions about the climate, people, culture, history, politics, literature and many other topics related to my country. While I might not have all the answers, I am happy to share my perspective and experiences. This is an opportunity to foster meaningful dialogue by showing curiosity and respect for other opinions, traditions and cultures.

I have had the privilege of learning from a diverse group of researchers from around the world. My job as a graduate researcher and a hydrologic modeler (essentially someone who interprets the water cycle processes by using mathematical equations and computer simulations) at NDSU is to simulate the changes in water resources as a result of many other factors such as agricultural activities, global warming and climate change. The scientific community that I am interacting with is a classic example of how diversity of thought leads to sustainable solutions. No matter where you are from or what language you speak, scholars from around the world are collaborating and doing research to provide sustainable solutions to complex global water issues. At the end of the day, two heads are better than one!

Here in Fargo, I am proud to be the first Persian/Iranian friend of many people who never thought that they might have a friend from Iran. Fargo gave me the warmest welcome in the coldest days of its winters by introducing me to extraordinary people from a variety of countries. As an idealist and an optimist, my personal and professional goals are to play a small role in promoting cultural diversity and diversity of thought. Interacting with people from different backgrounds has taught me that compassion is the cornerstone of many cultures. As a Persian, I would like to leave you with a beautiful piece of poetry from my culture that I have been raised with. The Persian master of speech, Saadi of Shiraz (1213-1291), eloquently tells us that we are all one:

“Human beings are members of a whole

In creation of one essence and soul

If one member is afflicted with pain

Other members uneasy will remain

If you have no sympathy for human pain

The name of human you cannot retain.”

Written by Alexandre Cyusa

Alexandre Cyusa came to the FM area in the fall of 2010 to attend Concordia College. Originally from Kigali, Rwanda, Cyusa has lived in Switzerland, Ethiopia, Guinea and France. His traveling experiences have helped him in making this world a smaller and simpler place to live in. He currently works for Folkways and is interested in community development and nurturing global citizenship.

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