Life is a school that takes no break, and if we open our eyes and ears, each day can be a lesson. When One Book, One San Diego invited me to present my book at the Imperial Valley Campus of the San Diego State University in Calexico I accepted with pleasure. A friend, who had been there before, mentioned that it would be a long drive, but those who know me well realize that no distance can keep me away from my readers. And when someone said, “There’s nothing to see,” I smiled and reminded myself that I have to yet visit a place where I could not find something fascinating. So I packed my overnight bag and hit the road.
The friend who had mentioned distance was actually right. I was surprised to find out it was 210 miles from my door to the campus, nearly forty miles over what Google map had indicated. But that didn’t bother me because along the road, I had glimpses of beautiful mountains, many windmills, and unbelievable acres and acres of solar panels, the likes of which I had never seen before.
When I got off Interstate 8 and onto rout 98, it was such a clear day that I could see a high mountain in the distance. I later learned that even though Mount Signal is visible on our side, it is actually located beyond the Mexican border, and that it used to be a landmark guiding the early travelers through the desert. Closer to the city, I had a glimpse of New River, a waterway which I had previously heard about its pollution, yet now provided another lovely scenery. The fields of alfalfa, sugar beets, and cabbage were all around me. The daughter of a farmer, I was home!
UCSD in Imperial Valley provides education for nearly 1,000 students. At its charming campus, I had the distinct honor of meeting Dr. Carlos R. Herrera, the Associate Dean For Academic Affairs. He introduced me with such eloquence that I can only wish to be worthy of his good words. I also met Ms. Norma Aguilar, the Student Recruitment Coordinator and the liaison / organizer of these events. Going far beyond the call of duty, she had not only selected the background Persian music, but also successfully prepared a delicious meal of Persian “jeweled rice” and Shirazi salad for everyone. My lovely hostess from KPBS, Ms. Linda Ball, made sure this visit was most enjoyable and I have a feeling that our interactions have paved the way for yet another new friendship. I thank the One Book, One San Diego not only for having embraced the work of this small writer, but more so for never ceasing to provide learning opportunities.
Indeed, life is an ongoing school. I am richer for having visited Calexico and the chance to meet some of its good people. So the next time you are presented with a new opportunity, I hope you’ll remember that no distance is too far to reach others, and that if you open your heart, the world is a fascinating place, no matter where you go.