PROFILE: UC Alumna With A World View Spreads The Word About Diversity Education
When Ahoo Tabatabai started earning her undergraduate degree at UC in 1996, it was the first time she had ever attended a school where the dominant language was English. As UC’s program coordinator for Diversity Education, she works to build bridges of understanding among the diverse UC community.
Date: 1/10/2005 8:00:00 AMAhoo Tabatabai remembers that her family left her native Iran six years into the eight- year war with Iraq.
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Photos By: Dottie Stover
“What I see on TV right now is very familiar to me, as well as the effects of war. I grew up with it. Armed troops were everywhere as we got up to go to school. There would be air raids in the middle of the day, and we’d go to a bomb shelter at the school. At night, my parents would scoop me out of bed and we’d run under the staircases when there was a Red Alert – a very loud siren warning us to shut off our lights and go someplace safe.”
Tabatabai recalls that the family’s ultimate goal was to settle in the United States, but says they knew it was going to be difficult to enter the country as a family. So they took a roundabout journey to their future home, living in Turkey, India, Canada (where Ahoo spoke French for eight years), and then Cincinnati, where she started at UC as a psychology major in 1996. Her immediate family settled into both UC and Cincinnati as well. Her father, Mousa Gargari, is an associate professor in construction science. Her mother, Zhaleh Gharibi, works for the Office of Advanced Studies. Her younger brother, Aidin Gargari, is set to graduate from the College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning in 2005. “We have always been attracted to the university setting. It’s just a pleasant place to work,” she says.
As Ahoo earned her bachelor’s degree, she says she worked in a battered women’s shelter and as a result, she started seeing a correlation between violence, poverty, homelessness and drug abuse. Her drive to further explore those issues led to a graduate degree from UC in Women’s Studies. Her student experience in UC’s Racial Awareness Program (RAPP) in the Office of Student Activities and Leadership Development resulted in her desire to take an internship with the program, which eventually led to her job as program coordinator for Diversity Education. RAPP was recently honored with a regional Celebration of Diversity Award from the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA).
Ahoo adds that Diversity Education is also available for outreach programs for UC’s student organizations, the residence halls and local schools. Diversity Education also coordinates UC’s annual Worldfest celebration that recognizes the university’s global connections. Worldfest 2005 will take place May 2-8.