Press Release: A Beginner’s Guide to America

Media Contact: 
Paul Nugent, Executive Director
Southeast Connecticut World Affairs Council

Roya Hakakian presents, “A Beginner’s Guide to America”

This Southeast Connecticut World Affairs Council hybrid virtual and in-person meeting takes place on Wednesday, October 6 at 6 p.m.

Waterford, CT (Sept. 21, 2021) – The Southeast Connecticut World Affairs Council (SECWAC) announced today that Roya Hakakian is to speak on “A Beginner’s Guide to America” at 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 6, 2021. This presentation will take place both virtually on Zoom and in person at the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme. Registration is required to attend the in-person meeting, as attendance has been capped to ensure social distancing. 

Author Roya Hakakian will discuss the immigrant experience in America and the importance of immigrants to this country. She will speak to the significance of the US’s racial multiplicity, founding ideals, and democratic principles not just for our own country, but for those around the world; how political refugees, and those who lived under tyranny, are essential to renewing America’s founding principles and upholding the values of our democracy; and what it was like, as an immigrant, to live through four years of Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric and policies. The talk will be based on her book, “A Beginner’s Guide to America: For the Immigrant and the Curious,” available to purchase via local bookstore Bank Square Books.

Hakakian’s presentation is part of the SECWAC 2021-22 monthly Speaker Series. To attend in person or receive the Zoom meeting link, register in advance at


Ms. Roya Hakakian is a published writer. Her opinion columns, essays and book reviews appear in English language publications like the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and NPR’s All Things Considered among many others. She has collaborated on over a dozen hours of programming for leading journalism units in network television, including CBS 60 Minutes. She currently serves as an editorial board member of World Affairs. An active thinker of foreign relations, Roya is a founding member of the Iran Human Rights Documentation Center. She has been featured in the Washington Post and the US News and World Report, among other publications. In the book, Political Awakenings by University of California at Berkeley’s Professor Harry Kreisler, she has been highlighted “among the most important activists, academics, and journalists of her generation.” Roya is the author of two collections of poetry in Persian, and is listed among the leading new voices in Persian poetry in the Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World. Her poetry has appeared in numerous anthologies around the world, including La Regle Du Jeu, Strange Times My Dear: The Pen Anthology of Contemporary Iranian Literature.

In 2008, she received a Guggenheim prize in nonfiction. It enabled her to complete the work on her most recent book, Assassins of the Turquoise Palace (Grove/Atlantic), about Iran’s terror campaign against exiled dissidents in Western Europe received the Asian American Literary Award for best non-fiction book in 2013. It was named a New York Times Notable Book in 2011, made Newsweek’s Top Ten Not-to-be-missed books and was among Kirkus Reviews Best Non-Fictions in the same year. Her account of the work of the German prosecutor of the case, a modern day Atticus Finch, moved the US Federal Bar Association to establish “the Rule of Law Award,” the first of which was bestowed upon that prosecutor in 2014 at the Daniel Moynihan Federal Courthouse in New York City.

Her memoir of growing up a Jewish teenager in post-revolutionary Iran, Journey from the Land of No: A Girlhood Caught in Revolutionary Iran (Crown) has been a celebrated Freshman Experience book at a number of colleges in the US. It was a Barnes and Noble’s Pick of the Week, Ms. Magazine Must Read of the Summer, Publishers Weekly’s Best Book of the Year, Elle Magazine’s Best Nonfiction Book of 2004, and was named Best Memoir by the Connecticut Center for the Book in 2005 and has been translated into several languages including German, Dutch, and Spanish.

She is currently at work on a new book at the The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars where she has been awarded a fellowship in 2014. Talking to her readers is one of her great joys and she has addressed them at venues ranging from high schools on Native American reservations to the US Capitol and the CIA.


SECWAC is a regional, nonprofit, membership organization affiliated with the World Affairs Councils of America (WACA). The organization dates back to 1999, and has continued to arrange at least 8-10 meetings annually, between September and June. The meetings present a range of topics in international affairs, foreign policy and diplomatic history, and are hosted at venues along the I-95 corridor, welcoming members and guests from Stonington to Old Saybrook, and beyond.  SECWAC’s mission is “to foster an understanding of issues of foreign policy and international affairs through study, debate, and educational programming.” It provides a forum for nonpartisan, non-advocacy dialogue between members and speakers, who can be U.S. policymakers, educators, authors, and other experts on foreign relations.


CALENDAR LISTING: Southeast Connecticut World Affairs Council (SECWAC) presents Roya Hakakian on Wednesday, October 6, 2021, at 6:00 p.m. in person or via Zoom. Free for members; $20 for non-members. Registration is required in advance. Annual membership of SECWAC is $95; $35 for young professionals under 35, and free for students and educators; corporate membership is available for $1,100 (contact SECWAC for details).


Mission Statement

The mission of the Southeast Connecticut World Affairs Council (SECWAC) is to foster an understanding of issues of foreign policy and international affairs by study, debate, and educational programming, primarily through a Speakers Series of 8 to 10 monthly meetings.