Young Reporters at The Tehran Peace Museum


Young Reporters at The Tehran Peace Museum


The Tehran Peace Museum’s new Young Reporters project brings the city’s teenagers to ask questions about war and chemical weapons, and also to write about peace.


With Iran’s school children getting a full three months for their summer vacation, many parents struggle to find things to keep their young people busy.  Part of the answer may be found in what a group of young teenagers from eight of Tehran’s public schools may have the answer.



  Young Reporters Group at Tehran Peace Museum. Standing

  (from left):Ms. Saidian, Ms. Gilani, Ali, Aryan, Ali Khateri,

  Ms Rashid (Saghar's mother), Ms. Babai.  Kneeling (from left):

  Mohammad Mahdi, Ms Pooyandeh, Saghar, Zahra, Yas

At the beginning of the summer holidays, the Tehran Peace Museum, in association with a number of teachers from local schools, began a pilot project called Young Reporters.


The main objective of the project is to encourage Iran’s younger generation to discover their history through interviewing those veterans who served in the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988) – some of whom were victims of chemical weapons attacks.


Ms. Kuniko Yamamura Babaei, supervisor of the museum’s Iran-Japan Cultural Exchange Project, initiated the idea for the youth programme following a similar example she witnessed at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum.


“If it is only the old people who talk about their own stories,” says Ms. Babaei, “this will never be the answer for the younger generation.  They have their own questions to ask.  We can help young people to understand about peace by teaching them about war.”



  “We can help young

 people to understand

 about peace by teaching  

 them about war.”

As a result of the collaboration, a group of students have become actively involved in in the work of the Tehran Peace Museum and are interacting with the museum’s extended community of friends.


Overcoming stereotypical perceptions of how war veterans are perceived was the first step in “humanizing” this brutal and “imposed” war.


“Before I came to the museum,” says a young Mohammad Mahdi, “I had always thought that all war veterans were very religious – stern– unhappy people.  I got this image from watching movies and from what adults I know used to tell me.  But when I met the survivors, they were really friendly and laugh and joke just like ordinary people.  I now share their stories with my own family.”


The young students spend their time voluntarily at the museum and interview chemical weapons survivors from the war period.  They learn about the medical consequences of the attacks and become much more knowledgeable about the horrors of chemical weapons.  They report on the survivors’ dedication to creating a culture of positive peace.


 Young Reporters inspired by Mahatma Gandhi

“After I visited to the museum and after I met the guides,” says Aryan, “I think I really came to understand what the consequences of chemical weapons were and why these weapons should be forbidden.  I came to feel powerfully that it has to be a crime to use them.”


For the chemical weapons survivors it has also been a challenging project, which has brought them into greater contact with the youth of today.


 Hassan HassanSa’di, a war veteran who was the victim of a chemical weapons attack near Faw in 1986, is now a volunteer guide at the museum and an eager peace activist.


“You know, the young people ask us really difficult questions,” says Hassan, “things we had never really thought about before.  But we respect their perspectives and we have to think about what is important for them to know.”


“The young people change a lot after coming to the museum,” continues Hassan, “they are frightened of us at first.  But they soon overcome this and find out that we are friendly, after all.  They also realize we are a first hand source for vital information about chemical weapons.”


The students all agree that their perception of war and the veterans has changed entirely though spending time at the museum and their eager faces reflect a determination to share ideas about peace.


“After my first day here,” says Yas, “I explained everything to my parents.  We talked about war and how the absence of war is the first step to peace.”


As well as learning to become volunteer guides, the students have made video presentations about the museum and plan to write information leaflets specifically targeted towards the younger generation.  Following the Learning-by-Doing method of understanding, the students are implementing quizzes for young visitors to learn about peace.


  Young Reporters and chemical weapons survivors
  at entrance to the Tehran Peace Museum

“When you spend time here at the Tehran Peace Museum,” says 16 year old Ali Khateri, “you start not liking the images of war.  You learn that people here – those who have actually lived through war – are more interested in the concept of peace.”


The Young Reporters are an enthusiastic group of young people, keen to get involved and share their ideas about peace with others.  The project, although only in its early days of existence, has proved to be successful in raising awareness against weapons of mass destruction and listening to the young voices of peace.


Farsi to English translation by Elaheh Pooyandeh
Written by Elizabeth Lewis

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