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RTR Fellows 2013

The very first Class of 2013 of the Zoroastrian Return To Roots Fellows was made up of

Farzin Avari, Binaifer Daji, Shahyan Dastur, Fareeza Doctor, Bezan Irani, Kurush Italia, Sasan Jahanian, Semira Jahanian, Rustom Kapadia, Jehangir Madon, Armeen Mistry, Vandad Pourbahrami, Jennifer Rostami, Anahita Sidhwa, Burzin Tampal, Cumbysis Tampal, and Diana Vania.

The Fellows

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“My favorite part of the trip was for once Zoroastrianism was the focus of our lives and experiences.”

Farzin Avari

Georgia, USA

Farzin is a graduate student in the Masters of Arts in Teaching Chemistry Program at Kennesaw State University. She lives in the Atlanta area where she has been teaching Sunday School for the past 3 years. Teaching “her kids” is both the greatest challenge and the most rewarding part of her life.

Farzin’s favorite part of the trip was meeting new people, because everyone had a unique story to tell and each story showcased immense passion. Oh and the mouth-watering food! Can’t forget the delicious Parsi food.

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Binaifer Daji

New York, USA

Binaifer was born and brought up in Dubai, U.A.E. After finishing her Bachelors in Information Technology and MBA in Finance, she started working in Finance & Management Consulting. She is also a Certified Management Accountant (CMA) and Certified Financial Management (CFM). In 2008, she moved to the USA and is currently living in New York City, where she works as a Finance Manager at American Express. Binaifer loves to help the Parsi community & organizes meet-ups for the youth. She also helps out with the Zoroastrian Women’s International Network (ZWIN). In her spare time she loves dancing and playing the piano.

Binaifer’s favorite parts of the Roots trip was learning all about the Doongerwadi and experiencing her first World Zoroastrian Congress.

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“I have never been so proud and lucky to be a Zoroastrian.”

Fareeza Doctor

Karachi, Pakistan

Fareeza was born in Karachi, Pakistan. She studied in Karachi, Pakistan, from where she did her BA and then moved to England to study law. Upon returning to Karachi, she works as an in-house legal counsel at United Bank Limited.

Her favorite part of the Roots trip was visiting and praying at the Iranshah Atash Behram at night with no lights and only divas; stepping on the banks of the Varoli River in Sanjan where our ancestors first landed; the Dadar Athornan Institute where children of the priestly class are provided religious and secular education and are trained to be priests; Jimmy Mistry’s house; and the Munshi Farms where there was lots of fun, entertainment, and laughter.

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“We can’t let ourselves be so distant from one another. Together, with all of our resources, we can build a much stronger community.”

Bezan Irani

Vancouver, Canada

Bezan was born in Abu Dhabi, U.A.E., where he lived until the age of 5, before moving to Toronto, Ontario. After 5 years in Toronto, his family moved to Vancouver, BC, where he now resides. Bezan received his Electrical Red Seal from BCIT in Vancouver and now works for Alpine West Systems Electrical while maintaining his own electrical company. In his spare time, he enjoys playing hockey and volleyball, as well as coaching.

For Bezan, the most unforgettable experience during the Roots trip was walking on the sand banks in Nargol where our ancestors first landed from Iran.

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“We have to make a better effort to keep the customs going and to have our community in our mind everyday.”

Kurush Italia

Los Angeles, USA

Kurush grew up and lives in Los Angeles. He studied Mechanical Aerospace Engineering at the University of California San Diego and is currently an Electro-Mechanical Project Engineer. In his spare time he enjoys sports, DJing (he also DJs events in the local Zoroastrian community), and long walks on the beach.

Kurush’s favorite part of the Roots trip was meeting new people and seeing the place where our ancestors landed in Nargol.

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Sasan Jahanian

USA

Sasan was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and grew up in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. He earned his B.Sc. in Biochemistry at Temple University and recently completed his Masters in Biology at CSU Bakersfield while developing a non-profit outreach program providing oral hygiene education to rural and low income families in California. In his spare time, he heads out to the coast or mountains for hiking and scenic photography.

His favorite part of the Roots trip was sitting in the Udvada Iranshah Atash Behram during the Nirangdin Ceremony, as well as the heritage tour.

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“The program has fostered a sense of belonging to a global community, educated on the religion, while forging long-lasting friendships.”

Semira Jahanian

San Francisco, USA

Semira grew up in Philadelphia and currently lives in San Francisco. She received her Business degree from Temple University, majoring in Accounting. She worked for Deloitte & Touché for about 4.5 years in external audit, and then attended Golden Gate University where she received her MS in Taxation. Semira currently works as a Senior Internal Auditor for Blackhawk Network, a subsidiary of Safeway. She is very adventurous, and has most recently gone skydiving.

One of Semira’s most memorable parts of the Roots trip was the heritage tour; it was amazing learning about India and how the Parsis have had so much influence on the community.

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“Understanding my religion on a cultural, political, and social level gives me a great sense of pride and ambition to become more involved in the community.”

Rustom Kapadia

London, UK

Rustom was born in London, England. Currently finishing his Bachelor’s degree in economics, Rustom also works in the aviation industry. Upon completion, he hopes to enter into the world of commercial aviation as an airline pilot. Having thoroughly enjoyed the RTR trip, Rustom hopes to continue work, representing the organisation to his UK counterparts.

Rustom feels that the Roots trip was an experience of a lifetime. He had the opportunity to meet people and garnered a deep respect for the Zoroastrian faith, its practices, and achievements.

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“I think we are a strong group and it would be easy to work with any of the people in this group to achieve goals.”

Jehangir Madon

New York, USA

Being born and having half his formative years in Bombay, Jehangir has strong connections to India. He did his BA in geography and economics at Rutgers in New Jersey. Jehangir works hard and prays hard along with his father for the community during the Muktad prayers and whenever priestly services are needed in the New York area. When not doing the above, Jehangir can be found biking, travelling, and even partying proudly in his Sadra spreading knowledge about Zoroastrianism among his NYC social circles.

One of Jehangir’s favorite parts of the Roots trip was witnessing the Nirangdin ceremony at the Iranshah Atash Behram in Udvada.

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Armeen Mistry

Minnesota, USA

Armeen was born in southern California and grew up in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She earned degrees in Journalism and Economics from the University of Missouri and is currently pursuing her law degree at the University of Minnesota. Armeen makes annual visits to Bombay to visit family, and has made presentations to high school and college classmates about Zoroastrianism. She enjoys hiking, looking at maps, and learning to be a Minnesotan (i.e., listening to A Prairie Home Companion).

Her favorite part of the Roots trip was examining some of the Avestan texts at the Meherji Rana library in Navsari, Gujarat.

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“Meeting other young Zoroastrians helped remind me that there are others like myself around the world.”

Vandad Pourbahrami

Vancouver, Canada

Vandad grew up on planet Earth – more specifically Vancouver, Canada. Vandad has lived in Canada, USA, Australia, and the UK and has traveled to Europe, the Middle East, and South Asia to-date. Vandad studied Business & Finance at McGill University and works as a Management Consultant for Accenture. In his spare time, Vandad enjoys playing basketball, long distance running, and spending time with his 4 nieces and nephews. In the Zoroastrian community, Vandad has been involved with the North American Youth Congresses and Sports Olympics.

Vandad’s favourite memory of the Return to Roots program was the tour of the Zoroastrian monuments (and influences) in South Bombay and visiting the historical Udvada Fire Temple.

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“I now have a substantive understanding of our practices and symbolisms.”

Jennifer Rostami

Indiana, USA

Jenny currently lives in Indiana and is pursuing her MBA at Purdue. She is involved with ZAGNY, as she previously lived in NYC. She currently enjoys painting in her free time, reading, friends, cooking and zumba!

Her favorite part of the Roots trip was being with such a fantastic group that became like brothers and sisters. Her favorite place was hands down Udvada.

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Anahita Sidhwa

California, USA

Anahita Sidhwa was born in Northern California, spent her formative years in Karachi, Pakistan, and has lived in Southern California for the past 15 years. She has a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering from University of California Irvine and a M.S. in Computational and Mathematical Engineering from Stanford University. Currently she is working and residing in Los Angeles.

By participating in the first Return to Roots trip, Anahita learned a lot about her religion and heritage. She is looking forward to getting more involved in the Zoroastrian community in Southern California.

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“I have gained two of the most invaluable assets: knowledge and friendship.”

Burzin Tampal

Toronto, Canada

Burzin Tampal was born in Dubai and grew up in Toronto, Canada. He studied Biology, Health Studies, and Psychology at the University of Toronto. He is affiliated with the local Zoroastrian community, ZSO, where he has been an active member since childhood.

His most memorable experience from the Return to Roots program was getting to meet new Zoroastrians from around the world and participating in various activities/events that provided insight into our heritage.

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“This program is necessary to give people in the community that awareness of what and who we are, and also to give Zoroastrians that sense of being on a team.”

Cumbysis Tampal

Toronto, Canada

Cumbysis is a 2008 graduate from the University of Ontario Institute of Technology with a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering (Hons); Mechatronics. Cumbysis was born in Dubai and grew up in Toronto, Canada, since the age of 6. He is currently working in the mining industry as a Mechanical Engineer and is also considering further education to pursue his MBA in a few years. As a devoted member of the community, Cumbysis has spent many years alongside his fellow Zarathushti peers in Toronto by being involved and taking part in the Toronto 1st Zoroastrian Scouts Group for over 20 years. Cumbysis has also contributed to the community by volunteering his time at the Darbe Mehr for various events and occasions including the Sunday Religion Classes.

The most memorable parts of the Roots trip for Cumbysis were the tour of the Taj Hotel, dinner at Jimmy Mistry’s house, and visiting the Iranshah Atash Behram in Udvada.

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“The RTR program is essential to maintain our Zoroastrian values, ideas, and traditions for future generations.”

Diana Vania

Toronto, Canada

Diana was born and raised in Toronto, Canada. She is currently pursuing her Masters of Science in Global Health and is interested in health and social policy in India. Diana has volunteered for the Zoroastrian Society of Ontario since she was young and has represented FEZANA at the United Nations.

Her favorite part of the Roots program was meeting like-minded Zoroastrian youth from around the world and learning about the Parsis’ impact on India.

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