University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
$10,000 Scholarship and Hearst Medallion
Summary: After the Islamic Revolution, music became strictly censored in Iran. Music schools were closed, Western music became inaccessible and women were banned from performing publicly. Mahsa Vahdat, a singer, was forced out of Iran. She now waits in San Francisco in exile. For Mahsa, the concept of placelessness has provided her music with a new path. “My voice is my home now. I can carry it with me wherever I go,” Mahsa says with a smile. In San Francisco, Mahsa performs frequently and without fear. She also leads a Persian vocal workshop that inspires others to discover their own “home” inside their voices. Mahsa’s struggle embodies the stories of millions of placeless people in the world today.