Armin Samiei

From bombs in Iran to an SFU doctorate

October 2, 2008

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By Roberta Staley

Armin Samiei graduated from high school a year after Iraqi bombs began dropping on her native Iran at the start of the Iran-Iraq War in 1980 when Iraq attempted to invade Iran following a long history of border disputes.

Unable to pursue post-secondary studies due to closed universities and borders, she trained in first-aid and volunteered with the Iranian Red Crescent for a year. When the borders re-opened two years later, Samiei reluctantly left her family and beleaguered country to begin post-secondary studies at the University of Toulouse in France. Her Iranian fiancé Mahmoud Samiei, who had a PhD in statistics, was offered a position at SFU and, once she had finished her degree in biochemistry, Samiei followed him to Vancouver in 1988.

Educated in French immersion in Iran, Samiei knew very little English, but was quickly accepted into SFU’s chemistry department master’s program. Torn between a career in science and education, she eventually chose the latter, completing a teaching certificate and a post-baccalaureate education degree at SFU following her M.Sc.

On Friday Oct. 10 she receives a doctorate in education. Her thesis analyzed elementary educators’ concerns over the integration of information and communication technology in B.C. schools. Samiei, a mother of three, is now a department head and technology instructor at Porter Street Elementary School in Coquitlam, teaching kindergarten to Grade 5.

Like all good educators, Samiei is helping instill a love of learning in her young charges.

Just as importantly, she is teaching them that technology, despite its dominance in our world, needs to be wielded with vigilance. Its impact—global as well as local—must be taken into consideration, says Samiei.

"Technology has a growing impact in the world," she says. "It can be destructive, as it was during the Iran-Iraq War, or something to cherish that allows you to communicate with family and friends around the world."
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