About Us

Our experience at Shirin Center during the past four years has proven that a small group of committed citizens can indeed make a big difference in their community.We believe in the anonymous quote which says:

"Life is a journey.
In the end,
each of us will be judged
by our standard of life,
not by our standard of living,
by our measure of giving and sharing,
not by our measure of wealth or knowledge,
by our simple goodness,
not by our seeming greatness."

We do not claim that being socially conscientious and doing the right thing are easy tasks to accomplish these days but we have taken strength from some of the notions which are beautifully expressed in the song called "I hope you ...". We strongly believe that our talented, hard working, and deprived young generation in Iran deserve all the help that they can get for fulfilling their dreams.

Shirin Observatory and Science Center was founded by Dr. Ali Taalebinezhaad in June 2000 for the promotion of science, technology, and art among the young people in Iran, free of charge. Since then, Dr. Taalebinezhaad has been spending every Summer at Shirin Center and has been directing its affairs with the help of about 100 volunteered staff. In his absence, Shirin Center is directed by its Board of Trustees which consists of about 10 individuals who have sincerely served their citizens through the center in the past. During the past few years, Shirin Center has gone through four distinct phases.

Phase I: (Summer of 2000 )
Establishing Shirin Observatory and promoting amateur astronomy

In June of 2000, Dr. Taalebinezhaad bought the largest possible Meade LX200 telescope which was available for export from the United States at the time, and took it with him in a flight from Boston to Tehran. After a painful experience at the MehrAbad Airport in Tehran, he made the necessary arrangements for paying the fees and releasing it from custom. He was personally in charge of installing that telescope in an observatory on the top of Kadivari hill in Fasa, Shiraz. He taught how to use that telescope to every interested individual. They were later allowed to use that telescope for their astronomy projects. Tens of such dedicated individuals later on helped to open the doors of Shirin Observatory to the public by running regular sky watching through that telescope and running observatory tours which attracted hundreds of enthusiastic people every week. By the end of that Summer, hundreds of young people in Fasa became active in amateur astronomy, and public observatory tours turned into the hottest attraction in town and served thousands of visitors.

Dr. Taalebinezhaad spend millions of Tomans of his own money for the purchase, shipment, and custom fees of that telescope, its accessories, and other equipments because he had a vision for an independent center for the young generation in mind. He accepted to use a room belonging to the City Hall of Fasa on the top of the Kadivari Hill only under the clear condition that the "Shirin Center" be independent from any governmental interference and be run fully by its active members without any influence from outside. These conditions were accepted by Mr. Mahmood Rezaii (Fasa's mayor at that time) and was supported by a well-respected individual, Mr. Mojtaba Arsenjani.

Phase II: (Summer of 2001 )
Teaching Science, Technology and Arts for free to a vast audience

In order to broaden the scope of Shirin Center activities, in June of 2001, Dr. Taalebinezhaad brought the necessary equipments such as oscilloscope, frequency meter, laptop computers, multimeter, EPROM programmer, ... for establishing an electronic and computer lab at the center. He offered the first hands-on lab at the center on the assembly and application of micro controller boards (PIC processor-based). Offering such a technical and hands-on lab for free, energized scores of sincere and talented individuals who volunteered their time and expertise in helping their citizens. This process grew like a wild fire. By the end of that Summer, Shirin Center had about 100 staff members who were offering about 50 classes a week and served about 2000 people in a wide range of science, technology, and art subjects.

We broke many norms in every step despite countless difficulties that we were facing. Our class/lab was a 6x8 meter room constructed (by the city hall) out of two cargo containers which were donated by the Red Crescent. Our team took it from there and maintained every aspects of it, from electrical, phone, and networking wirings to its routine cleaning.

We offered our classes in a coed environment for the first time in the city and resisted tremendous external pressures for separating men from woman because we could not afford it otherwise. We challenged the authories to show their deeds by asking them to build and staff another classroom so we can segregate men from woman but they failed to do so and we were able to continue our efforts in that efficient manner.

We neither got any tuition from our students for taking our classes and using our facilities and equipments nor paid any salary to our instructors for teaching them. In fact, it became an honor to teach at Shirin Center and we did not have enough slots to accommodate all the offers we were getting for voluntary teachings. Our students, ranged from school children to university students, working fathers, and even house wives. They were many who had traveled from neighboring cities to take advantage of what we were offering at Shirin Center. This project became a very noble and successful model for a productive social work where everybody in the community was benefiting from a sincere team work.

We did not give any degree, certificate, or diploma for completing our classes so we neither seeked any permission from any organization nor allowed anyone from outside to interfere with our classes and teachings. We had a very democratic system for running our affairs. Once a week, we had an open meeting where about 100 of staff were planning for the following week by direct voting.

On the social and cultural fronts, we had many events including a running race, an exhibition of traditional miniature painting (by a prominent local artist who was teaching at our center), first public traditional music concert (which attracted hundreds of people), ... .

Phase III: (Summer of 2002)
Team works and Project-based activities

In that summer, in addition to about one million Tomans worth of spare parts for the repair/service of the telescope, Dr. Taalebinezhaad brought many other equipment to the center such as tens of laptop computers, Global Positioning System, electronic microscope, tens of pocket computers, wireless weather station, technical books, tens of educational softwares, digital camera, ....

In this phase, we changed our focus from mass teaching and education to team works and project-based activities. With the help of a team of our dedicated staff, we held our first Equipment Exhibition and Industrial Exhibition which attracted thousands of visitors. The result of this phase was the creation of many new and active groups such as robotics, X-Ray astronomy, biology, physics, ..... During that Summer, we also had a trip to the neighboring city of Darab to promote their new astronomy group called Soheil, ran sport activities, arranged for blood drive at the center, and ... .

The level of cooperation, and enthusiasm that we were getting from people were amazing and admirable. For example many of the staff wanted and used to stay and work at the center until very late hours at night and we had to force them to go home when we were closing up the center near midnight. During our exhibition period, we decided to beef-up the security at our center because of rash of burglary that was going on in the city in the city at the time. There were so many interested volunteers for staying at the center over night as security guards that we had to use drawings for choosing a few from scores of volunteers.

In the end of Summer 2002, City Hall authorities broke their agreement and tried to interfere with the internal affairs of Shirin Center. We have all along promised our members that we will never compromised our independence and principles. As a result, over night, we moved our head quarter from the Kadivari hill and totally broke our relationship with the city hall and all of its agents on the Kadivari hill.

Phase IV: (Summer of 2003)
Reaching out to the young generation all over Iran

We started our activities with a handful of dedicated individuals in a small city with a limited focus but now we have grown to a big organization with an ambitious agenda.

With wider growth and accessibility of the internet in Iran, and our desire for extending the coverage of our services to a wider audience beyond Fasa, we started the creation of a website for the Shirin Center at: http://web.mit.edu/taalebi/www/soscof which is still a skeleton of a work in progress.

We intend to use this site as a focal point for serving our young generation all over Iran. We have already had the cooperation of many individuals from all over Iran. We are now welcoming and will gladly offer any of our services, expertise, and facilities free of charge to anyone in Iran.

In order to achieve our goals which is fulfilling the dreams of our young generation in science, technology, and art at the best of our ability, we definitely need much more help and resources than we currently have. So please lend a hand in any way you can. We are looking forward to hearing from you. As a token of our sincere thanks, we have taken upon ourselves to credit anyone who has helped us in any way and we will continue to uphold this practice.

Shirin Center
August 2003

Phase II: (Summer of 2001 )
Teaching Science, Technology and Arts for free to a vast audience

Phase II: (Summer of 2001 )
Teaching Science, Technology and Arts for free to a vast audience