When former Newsweek writer Maziar Bahari visited Nova Southeastern University on October 18 as part of the Farquhar College of Arts and Science’s Distinguished Speaker Series, it represented a great moment in the school’s history.
The Distinguished Speaker Series has been running for nearly ten years and has featured such prominent names as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, acclaimed filmmaker Spike Lee, and author Salman Rushdie.
But in Bahari, the NSU community discovered something new. This lecture definitely reflected the school’s growing prestige and the bright future that lies ahead of it. And that future needs to include more visits from people like Bahari.
The Division of Student Affairs hosts “Life 101” lectures that bring more speakers, but the Distinguished Speaker Series needs expansion. Bahari’s life story epitomizes this need.
In 2009, Bahari was imprisoned in Iran for nearly four months, accused of being a multinational spy while covering the nation’s elections. He has gone through something that people like us would think is the worst possible situation ever, and came through it alive and is now sharing his life story with others.
His visit was particularly enlightening on many fronts. For one, when he provided the explicit details of his imprisonment, done through excerpts from his memoir, “Then They Came For Me”, it really put life into perspective. This man was trapped in some hole in the ground in the middle of nowhere, tormented and forced to answer questions that couldn’t be answered — all because he was doing his job, in the country of his birth no less.
The lecture not only gave me a new perspective on life, but also more knowledge of the current situation in Iran. Bahari gave the audience his thoughts on the country’s current state, and addressed his ideas on what could develop there in the coming months. He even took part in a post-lecture question and answer session.
When I left the Rose and Alfred Miniaci Performing Arts Center that night, it became clear to me, as it should have with everyone else in attendance, that NSU needs to host more Distinguished Speaker Series events.
On Nov. 14, theoretical physicist and author Brian Greene became the most recent speaker in the series, but there are just two more events scheduled this school year. One will be with forensic anthropologist Kathy Reichs, and the other with playwright Edward Albee.
Inviting more people like Bahari, who have not just their life experiences to talk about, but will share the knowledge that they have gained from those experiences, will enlighten and inspire NSU community members to do something bigger with their lives.
The Distinguished Speaker Series needs to be held much more often than just four times in one school year, and it needs to continue to bring in a vast diversity of guests.