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Originally published Thursday, September 28, 2006 at 12:00 AM

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Guest columnist

A dream takes flight

Achieving one's dream is never an easy task. It may take decades of dedicated hard work. But Iranian-born American Anousheh Ansari, the...

Special to The Times

Achieving one's dream is never an easy task. It may take decades of dedicated hard work. But Iranian-born American Anousheh Ansari, the first female space tourist, proves it is possible.

Indeed, for her, the American dream has come true — and for the rest of us, there is great comfort in knowing that even in the post-9/11 era, the American dream remains robust.

Ansari blasted off into space early on Sept. 18 in Kazakhstan on a flight to the international space station. After six months of dedicated preparations, which included learning Russian, she finally achieved her childhood dream of space travel. And from space, she said, she hoped to look down and find the spot in Iran where she first discovered her dream of the stars.

Ansari's story, which began with her family's immigration to the United States after the Islamic revolution in Iran, has already inspired millions, both within the United States and Iran.

For those inside Iran, especially the young Iranian women who aspire to achieve their dreams in a land where the odds are so heavily stacked against them, Ansari is the glowing light at the end of the tunnel. She is the example that proves that, despite great hardships, dreams may well become a reality — the trick is to work hard and never abandon them.

The lesson is invaluable and one can only hope it will be protected and nurtured in the hearts and minds of young girls and women — in all conditions, anywhere in the world — who may find their dreams difficult to achieve.

Ansari, the entrepreneur, is entering the record books as the first female space tourist and also the first American woman of Iranian descent to travel into space.

But she may have accomplished more than what the books will record. In a time of great political turmoil, when Iran's decision-makers are risking the fate of their citizens on the nuclear issue and Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad continues to agitate the international community with his inflammatory remarks, Ansari shows us a different side of the Iranian: a side infused with the wisdom of Iranian culture, and tradition; a wisdom deeply rooted in Persian practices that teach the ethics of hard work and parallel American values of achievement so as to be an example to all.

These shared Persian and American values are those that continuously fight the radicalism of Tehran's regime. Indeed, for years, the Iranians have silently demonstrated to the radicals their Persian ethics by keeping alive thousands of years of tradition that set them in direct opposition to the extremists.

Most importantly today, Ansari shows us an Iranian face that proves Iranian Americans, Middle Eastern Americans, continue to be inspirational Americans, despite the examples of the radicals.

Faye F. Farhang writes for various Persian-American online journals and lives in Seattle. Contact her at

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