In 1979, Iran was struck by a rebellion that ravaged the land. When it was over, people thought peace would reign in the area but in its place is now an Islamic fundamentalist regime.
When Parisa Scheepers was invited to the English Language and Literature Year 2 class to recount her story while growing up, it is uncanny how similar her story is to the one to Persepolis.
Persepolis is a coming-of-age story about Marjane Satrapi‘s struggles in the volatile Iran. Mrs. Scheepers’ anecdotes are similar in depicting the horrifying time in Iran which put her on the path to talking in front of students at ISKL.
Mrs. Scheepers’ life in Tehran, Iran was a joyous one before the Iranian Revolution turned everything upside down. As a child, she was relatively sheltered from all the tension and horrors that were whirling around her. However, there were specific moments in her childhood that she felt fear, and was exposed to death and destruction.
She chillingly tells, “It was one afternoon. I always took a bus from my school to my home. My school was downtown, and all the demonstrations, the killings, the burnings, were always downtown. So, we took this bus, seven of us, plus a monitor and a driver. We took this bus going to our homes, and suddenly we had to stop. Someone came and knocked on the door. He looked totally okay. They pulled out our driver, and started beating and beating him, and blood was running. And our bus monitor took us out the back door — she was a very clever girl. She took us from the back door, down, the seven of us. And we ran. We could hear shouting. We could hear gunshots. You know, for a child, this age, on the street, it smelled terrible, very bad. They were burning tires, banks, and smashing things. And she just took us to a little street towards somebody’s house. I was terrified. Everyone was terrified.”
After that, her school was closed for a year.
Throughout her time in Iran, her father wanted her to leave the country. Finally, in 1982, a window cracked open. Mrs. Scheepers was able to flee to Austria, and after that, Iran closed its borders completely until 1987.
In Austria, she lived in a foreign environment: with a new school, new language, new country, new people. She had to leave most of her family behind, but had her sister, who left Iran in 1979, to guide her.
Today, as Mrs. Scheepers reflects on her childhood, she definitely thinks that it changed her worldview on issues and made her stronger. “When I hear some places that go on the streets like, I don’t know, Tunisia or Egypt for example. They want change, I always think to myself, ‘I hope they don’t get the same thing as in Iran.’ Now they’re young, and they think they’re going to get democracy or something better, but as we saw, and we experienced, nothing like this will happen. Not in the Middle East. It’s not the French Revolution. That’s different. They got something different. We didn’t.”
Her recount of her time in Iran struck a chord in the students. Isabella, ‘17, enthusiastically says “Parisa was an inspiration to our class, as the story that we are reading in English had many parallels to her story. It was admirable that even though she had some bad memories of Iran, she still loves her country.”
Thank you, Mrs. Scheepers, for coming to talk about your intriguing life and history!