January 11, 2016
Hilton freshman get firsthand account of life in Iran
ninth-graders listened attentively as Madeleine Gasdik
recounted her childhood as the daughter of a Central
Intelligence Agency (CIA) agent. The presentation followed
the students’ reading of the graphic novel
Marjane Satrapi, an autobiography about growing up in Iran
during and after the Islamic revolution.
Gasdik, who is now director of the Alleghany County Office
for the Aging, was born in Pakistan, then lived in what was
then Saigon, Vietnam before moving to Tehran, Iran where she
attended an American high school. “I have many fond memories
of living in Iran and miss it,” she said. “The Persians are
kind, loving and compassionate people.”
Gasdik also recounted how, while living in Saigon, her house
would shake when tanks went by and how her family would hide
in her parent’s windowless bedroom when there was gunfire.
Gasdik invited Mark Lijek to speak to the students over the
phone from his home
in Seattle. Lijek is one of the six American diplomats who
evaded capture during the seizure of the United States
embassy in Tehran and taking of embassy personnel as
hostages by Islamist students and militants on November 4,
1979. Under the ruse that they were a film crew from Canada,
the diplomats were able to escape to Switzerland. The
Academy Award winning 2012 film
Argo was based on the operation.
“Everyone you meet has their own story,” Lijek told the
students. “It is important to listen.”
The presentation was part of “IB Day” where students engage
in special presentations and projects to put into practice
the traits of the International Baccalaureate learner
profile. For example, the trait of open mindedness involves
critically appreciating one’s own cultures and personal
histories, as well as the values and traditions of others.
Students seek and evaluate a range of points of view, and
are willing to grow from the experience.