What you seek
is seeking you.
My future self and future women tourism researchers,
It was common for young people of my generation to dream of becoming doctors or studying medicine in Iran. Even though I was a hard-working student, I realized I couldn’t get into medicine after my university entrance exam results. I was introduced to tourism management at a famous public university in Tehran by an academic consultant. Having studied English since I was 4, I thought I could travel the world by choosing this major at university. My dad was pleased with my choice. He used to say: “ Go and Travel the world.” Once I entered university and society at the age of 19, I realized that studying tourism management would not change my life for the better. There were restrictions and inequalities for girls when it came to traveling alone, for example.
My next step was to get a master’s in tourism management (in 2011). As I wanted to learn more, I realized that I was the one who would teach me, so I became a knowledge seeker. Once I finished my master’s, I realized I wanted to live somewhere with equal opportunities to grow and experience new things. That is when I fell in love with French, and it became my goal to learn it. Leaving my family and homeland was difficult, but I decided to come to France for my second master’s degree, the country of my dreams in 2016. My master’s degree was at the University of Grenoble Alpes. After graduating in 2018, I proposed writing a thesis to my professor, and it was accepted, so I started my Ph.D. Here I am as a Ph.D. student and young tourism researcher.
By telling this story, I hope students from third-world countries will see that nothing can stop a person except themselves. This letter isn’t about complaining about the future but about giving hope, especially to girls in Iran who live in inequality. For example, the number of Iranian women academics is much smaller than that of men(Khosrokhavar & Ghaneirad, 2010) (especially in tourism). There were several reasons I decided to move to France when I was 26 years old, including the fact that women are not appreciated for their research work in Iran.
I’m always obsessed with the future; maybe that’s why I became interested in the future of tourism. I have been researching this and would like to be a tourism futurist someday. Even though I am just getting started, I have gained experiences I want to share with future generations.
Even if we were limited, we could still grow. Growing up, I was taught in society that women do not need to study for higher degrees for many years. So I realized I had to work hard to get ahead. Everybody has a goal to reach, and that goal for me is to keep my name alive (at least for a while). So I am considering establishing a foundation to make it easier for women who want to study tourism and support them.
Believe in yourself. Growing up, our education system ignored our talents and abilities and didn’t allow us to grow intellectually. Lack of self-confidence and lack of belief in myself plagued me for years. It was my family that supported me the most. Each of us has a power that is just waiting to be awakened.
Fear keeps you from taking action. My experience taught me not to be afraid. I was always afraid of being judged (and still am a little bit), so I never took the initiative to work with others. To overcome our fear, we must walk the path we are afraid of, but the first time will be tough. Since then, I’ve met many research collaborators and learned a lot.
Help each other grow by sharing our knowledge. This could be possible through social media. I manage an Instagram account to create content about tourism knowledge and do research.
Make sure you’re not indifferent to others. As one of tourism’s goals is to establish peace, taking on our social responsibilities will lead to more peace and mutual understanding in society.
Find your way. I read somewhere: “All the days of the oppressed are wretched, but the cheerful heart has a continual feast.” So we should enjoy the beautiful journey of life with its ups and downs. Also, Rumi, the Persian poet of the 13th century, said, “What you seek is seeking you.” So you are going to figure it out.
Dedicated to my parents and the people of Iran in pursuit of freedom.
Grenoble Alpes University, France
Khosrokhavar, F., & Ghaneirad, M. A. (2010). Iranian Women’s Participation in the Academic World. Iranian Studies, 43(2), 223–238.