Inculcate Tehran: Opening a Dialogue of Civilizations in the Shadow of God and the Alborz

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This essay discusses the establishment of Alborz College by American Presbyterian missionaries. Alborz's early years, before its 1940 nationalization by Iran, were shaped by the vision of its first president, Samuel Jordan, a liberal, athletic, pragmatic Christian reformer who led by example, a practitioner of what we now call “social work” and an encourager of female empowerment. Alborz and the Presbyterian mission which gave it birth grew in the context of American social history, including the religious awakening of the early nineteenth century, American doctrines of freedom and universal education, as well as the contradictory impulses of ethnocentricity and ecumenicism. The essay is based on private and governmental archival sources and the experience of the author as a high school student in Tehran.

This history needs to be told.

—Yahya Armajani

All writing is autobiographical.

—Donald Murray

This essay discusses the origins of Alborz College as an effort by private Americans to share with Iran the blessings of their own culture. This they did for decades, cooperating with the Tehran government, without involving Washington. Remarkably, Alborz survived Reza Shah's assault on foreign schools during the 1930s, and it flourished after nationalization as a premier Iranian institution preparing secondary students for modern university studies. It continues as such today.