(转载)From 4 to God!

Note: This is the speech was prepared for the 2005 graduation ceremony, but it did not come true.In that year, 2005, the commencement speaker at Stanford finally became Steve Jobs, who gave the well-known talk inspiring millions of young men.

From 4 to God!

I remember the day …

…when I was only 3 or 4 years old and one of my cousins asked me, “How much do you love me?” I said: “from Chah
to God!” – Chah
in Persian means a “Well” and in my imagination that was the longest distance I could think of at the time (i.e., from the bottom of a well to the top of the sky where God was) and that was how much I loved him and that was my equivalent word for saying “infinity”. On the other hand, “Chahr”
(with an R at the end means 4) — So for weeks and months when I told my family members how much I love them, they thought I was saying from 4 to God, and they always wondered why 4!

I remember the day …

…when I was about 8 years old and I dreamed of coming to America and going to one of the best schools in the world. But I was wondering why the people who do that, don’t come back and make a better world?

I remember the day …

…when I was a teenager and all Iran’s borders were closed because of the 1979 revolution. For two years, I was trying every border and made many attempts to escape … from The Caspian Sea side to the Persian Gulf side from the Azarbayjan side to the Afghanistan side.

I remember the day

…when in my one of my attempts to escape, I was captured at the Kurdestan border for a week in a cottage and I had very little hope of getting out of the area alive.

I remember the day

…when I finally managed to escape from Iran on a horse from the Turkish border through the mountains, but when my smuggler dropped me off on the road in the middle of the night, I had no idea which direction led toward Turkey and which side led back to Iran!

I remember the day

…when I saw the first Latin sign on the road in Turkey, it was the best day of my life, because then I was sure I was finally out!

I remember the days

…that I had to travel for months through Turkey, Spain, Denmark and Italy to find my way to America.

I remember the day…

…after being rejected twice for a US Visa, the US consulate told me that there is no way that you can go to the US. But I did not take “No” for an answer.

I remember the day …

…when I finally managed to come to the US, and I was handcuffed at the airport. When they were taking me to the jail through NY city streets, I was so happy to finally be in colorful America, and I could see it with my own eyes— but disappointed that I should see it while handcuffed!?

I remember the day …

…when I was released from the NY jail after a couple of months, I set my next goal. That was to live with an American family, so I could learn the language and American culture quickly.

I remember the day …

…that after 4 months of disappointing and exhausting search, I was so frustrated that I just asked a very old lady at a bus stop: “I want to live with an American family?” and she screamed: “What?!” — And after I repeated my request, she said “Aha – why don’t you go to a church?” After that for the next couple of months, my daily routine was to look for crosses from a distance and go to any churches that I could find.

I remember the day …

…that I walked to a church and the pastor of the church offered me the chance to live with them, which turned out to be the best two years of my life.

I remember the day …

…that I could not get a job as an auto-mechanic (although I had done mechanical work in Iran), so I started working as a gas station attendant and learned how to wash toilet bowls with a scotch in my bare hands, in order to pay for my living expense and college.

I remember the day. …

…that I had to sleep in my car for a few weeks when I came first to the Bay Area and had to shower every morning in the college locker room. (I am sure some of you have done this, too).

After I received my BS in Electrical Engineering and applied to Stanford for an MS degree in Electrical Engineering,

I remember the day …

…that I did not get accepted. I remember the lady in the graduate admissionoffice who asked me, “Why don’t you apply to Operations Research instead?” And that was what I did. It happened that I liked this much better than Electrical Engineering.

I remember the day …

…that it was tough to find a professor in Civil & Environmental Engineering who would accept me as his PhD advisee, but I finally managed to find one of the best advisors at Stanford.

Well, here I am finally, at the end of my PhD! With a couple of messages:

My message for the young people in the audience:

My message for you who are graduating:

Let’s not forget the World and the humankind! I always asked: “Why do people who are honest and intellectual only work in their labs on their important experiments – like “counting the stars” — And those who are dishonest and perhaps anti-intellectual run our world?” (Of course, I am talking only about the other side of the world not this side!) — I think we all have a responsibility to make positive changes in this world. And as someone said: “Let’s be among those who make this world fresh!”

My name is Bijan. Incidentally, there is a famous 10 th
century Persian poem named “Shahnameh”
(The Epic of Kings). One of its main characters is Bijan, who was captured in a well (a Chah)
by his enemies for what seemed liked forever. Finally, he was freed from that pit and given a chance to begin his life.

I feel I am out of the well now, too. But I also feel this is only the beginning and I am just at the ground level. There is a long way to the highest peak of the mountains and certainly a very, very long way to the top of the sky!

Thank You, and Love to You All — From Chah
to God!

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