My Union Project

Parisa and Parvaneh

Iranian born Parvaneh still fights bouts of debilitating depression that started with feelings of home sickness when she was a teenager. Her mother had passed away and her father sent her to the United States in 1979 to keep her safe from uncertainties the aftermath of civil war had caused. Traveling with extended family members to both New York and LA she longed for community.

Eventually becoming a single parent, Parvaneh settled in Pittsburgh to get her Master’s degree in social work. With hopes of starting her own non-profit to help other uprooted Iranians she interned at Union Project, just a block away from her house. But what she experienced there went far beyond the required credits she needed to graduate her program.

She enrolled Parisa in UP’s affordable ceramics classes and they began making art together as part of the 1,000 Birds Project. “Making clay birds was the first time I touched clay.” remembers Parvaneh.  What’s more, her daughter got hooked too. She calls it, “My Union Project.” laughs Parvaneh.  And every week afterschool they walked together to make beautiful birds. For Parisa, Union Project is a place to have fun. For Parvaneh, it’s safe and encouraging. And working with clay became a theraputic healing process she’d been seeking for years. Best of all they come and participate together.