I’m excited to invite you, as one of our beloved community members, into our next Shift Network journey, which promises to be truly unique and life-changing, as well as contributing to the healing of our world.
It will be a two-week journey to Iran this coming October 22-Nov. 5called Iran: Splendors of the Persian Empire.
I will personally be co-leading this trip with Philip Hellmich, our Director of Peace.
When people first think of Iran, their first association can be apprehension connected to the polarization that happens at a political level. Since our governments are only now beginning to thaw a bit, it can be hard to get beyond surface concerns and discover the real opportunity for travel, friendship, cultural exchange, and mutual learning.
The truth is that Iran is an amazing place to visit (see this 1-hour video by travel writer Rick Steves that calls it the “most surprising and fascinating” place he’s been)
Wilford Welch and Carole Angermeir, who founded Cross Cultural Journeys (our trip partner) and have traveled to perhaps 100 countries, say it is their FAVORITE place they have ever been. Period.
The reception on a personal level is the warmest they have experienced anywhere, the landscape staggeringly beautiful, the cultural experience so rich. That same story is one I have heard from many people: the warmest welcome anywhere!
And because it has only been opening recently to tourism from the West, it has few of the overworn, touristy qualities that are associated with so many other destinations.
70% of Iranians are under 30 and this next generation is often very, very pro-American and pro-West – they love our culture, music, and more. Iranian women are the most empowered and educated in the Middle East, outside of Israel. And Iran has an exceptional history culturally and spiritually, plus the country is clean and naturally beautiful.
The Persian empire was, at one time, the most extensive in the history of the world as well as an epicenter of learning and a center for many spiritual traditions, including producing much of the world’s greatest mystical poetry (including Hafiz, my personal favorite).
The Iran journey promises to be incredibly rich: a time of learning, adventure, deep personal connections, and contributing to the birth of a more peaceful era.
When the Cold War began to thaw with the Soviet Union, the building of citizen bridges and friendships proved essential, leading to the term “Track Two Diplomacy.” I see a similar opening now underway with Iran and part of the reason we want to take this trip is to become more educated and connected to this ancient and beautiful culture, which is central to the future of the Middle East and the prospect for peace. My inner guidance is that this is very important for the future of the world.
We have Wilford’s assurance, who used to work for the State Department and led a group there last year with Carole, that the trip is completely safe, provided we follow the rules, itineraries and expectations set by the government. We will be following an identical itinerary as has already been completed last year.
We are also doing this trip partially as a way to support the ongoing work of Search for Common Ground, an awesome non-profit that works on the frontline of transforming areas of challenge. They’ve dissolved conflicts and trauma around the world and played a key role in opening things up with Iran in recent years.
So we will be inviting everyone who comes in our Shift group to also make a contribution to Search to fund their work of conflict transformation (we already contribute monthly as a company).
We will be opening slots by application so that we can assure the right fit. We particularly want people to come on the journey who aim to be leaders for healing, peacebuilding, and mutual understanding moving forward.
Here’s the link to all the information: Iran: Splendors of the Persian Empire
Because of long approval processes for visas, we are asking you to apply and be interviewed by May 15th if you would like to come with our Shift group.
May this trip contribute to our collective remembrance that we are truly one sacred family! And may we have an incredible time!
Founder & CEO
The Shift Network