Celebrating Persian culture, a defense of the popular vote compact and a cautionary tale about using social media to date.

Thanks to all who made Persian festival a success

This past Sunday marked the final day of the Persian New Year (or Nowruz) celebrations. On March 14, the Andisheh Center hosted a spectacular Chaharshanbe Suri celebration, also known as the Persian Festival of Fire Jumping. This event is traditionally held the Wednesday evening before Nowruz.

This inclusive event hosted over 700 guests of all ages, from diverse backgrounds and cultures. Also in attendance were 43 amazing volunteers.

As our article in the Lake Oswego Review (The Times' sister publication, March 30) mentioned, one of the highlights of Chaharshanbe Suri is fire jumping. For the third year in a row, members from the Iranian Student Association at Portland State University generously offered their support to this activity. The students organized and facilitated rows of bonfires, helping excited guests as they participated in the purification practice. Jumping over the fires is symbolic for cleansing one's pallor, sickness and problems, and replacing them with warmth and energy.

On behalf of myself, and my colleagues at the Andisheh Center, I want to credit the success of this event to all of our tireless and hardworking volunteers. This event would not have been possible without their steadfast efforts. We were fortunate enough, again this year, to have the support of the Iranian Women Association of Oregon, who graciously helped with the children's corner and craft station. A special thanks also to the Child Foundation, who assisted with the gifts and souvenirs table. It was heartwarming to see children and families of our board members helping to make the event truly special. Last but not least, we want to thank the hospitality volunteers who warmly welcomed each guest with traditional Persian treats and tea. A round of applause to all who made this event a memorable celebration of Persian culture!

Ano Youssefian, Beaverton

Sen. Thatcher mischaracterizes impact of popular vote compact

On Feb. 23, our state senator, Kim Thatcher, argued in The Times against Oregon signing on to the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. The compact states allocate Electoral College votes to the presidential candidate with the plurality of votes across the country. The compact does not change how the Electoral College works. It changes the way states signing it allocate their votes, a state right under the Constitution.

Sen. Thatcher seems to prefer the congressional district method that "give(s) the states better representation within their own geographical diversity." This method moves the level of control from the state (winner-take-all) to the district. It does not protect "minority opinions or different ways of life" within districts, especially gerrymandered districts or districts with voter suppression laws in place.

Furthermore, analyses of how the congressional district method might work assume all states adopt this method, therefore eliminating state choice.

The only way to ensure every person's voice is heard is to base presidential election results on the national popular vote. The National Popular Vote Interstate Compact only goes into effect when states with 270 electoral votes sign on. If you want Oregon to sign onto the compact, contact Sen. Thatcher and your state representative today.

Angela Roccograndi, Wilsonville

Social media isn't best way to get to know real person

The other day, I received a friend request from a random girl. I looked through her photos on Facebook, and she seemed absolutely gorgeous. When I looked further, it appeared we had lots of mutual friends, so after briefly messaging her, I decided to take her out on a date. When the anticipated date arrived, I was alarmed when the girl that entered my car looked completely different from the girl in the photos. Based on our online conversation and our date, it appeared that I had taken out a different person.

Though social media can be a great source of meeting new people, it can also create false perceptions and judgments, and could deteriorate the art of the first impression.

We are all familiar with the Facebook-stalk and the Tinder-swipe, used to evaluate prospective relationships. With billions of people in the world, social media provides a great source to connect with individuals. However, these sources have been tainted by Photoshops, filters and the occasional duckface. Ironically, these social media masks create social barriers and prevent unbiased, meaningful connections.

How many of us have judged a prospective date based on his/her profile picture or their last post? These predetermined judgments could inhibit the opportunity for a lasting relationship. We have all been guilty of looking up our date's spring break photos from two years ago, but I encourage you not to judge a book by its cover photo and not Facebook-stalk until you talk.

Cason Wight, Beaverton

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