Below are some ideas for discussion in your group.
- What are our thoughts about probable success when we hear a woman has immigrated to the United States as a teen, without speaking English? What did Anousheh do to better herself, to go on to become a rousing successful engineer and businesswoman, and fulfill her unrealistic but compelling dream of going into space?
- The Iranian culture and her upbringing played a large part in Anousheh’s work ethic and focus. Discuss this and her family’s eventual need to escape from their country. Why did they pick America? Discuss Iranian stereotypes.
- The Little Prince is an all time favorite book of Anousheh’s. Why do you think this story enthralled her as a child and even today?
- Anousheh has been criticized by the public for spending so much to fulfill her dream. Yet because of this passion, and her family’s hard work to become wealthy, the Ansaris have invested heavily in the success of our space program, through X-Prize sponsorship and other competitions, and through active participation in international space conferences. Discuss.
- Anousheh captured headlines around the world as the first female private space explorer, earning a place in history as the fourth private explorer to visit space as well as the first woman, and the first astronaut of Iranian descent. Why and how did her husband Hamid and her family support Anousheh’s wild dream and assist her in making it come true?
- The US Astronaut Corp and the Russian cosmonauts were resentful and dismissive of Anousheh when she started the hard training leading to being allowed to fly on the Soyuz. Why did her space patch, seen here, with both American and Iranian flag colors on it cause such conflict? How did she win their respect both before and during flight?
- Anousheh’s website biography calls her the “First Female Private Space Explorer and First Space Ambassador.” As well as the CEO of a technical company, Anousheh is an international speaker for peace and education, especially math and science, and the universal harmony of exploring the space frontier. Her motto is: “Imagine. Be the change. Inspire.” Do you find her inspiring? Children are of particular interest to Anousheh and she frequently talks to youth groups and sponsors essay competitions, such as “What if. . .” (you were the first space generation living in an orbiting space habitat?) Do you think her story can help encourage our youth to choose the sciences and to work harder to fulfill their own dreams?
HOW DID HOMER HICKAM AND ANOUSHEH DECIDE TO WRITE HER STORY TOGETHER?
Anousheh this memoir of her life experiences with the assistance of Homer Hickam, the author of the No. 1 New York Times best-seller Rocket Boys, which was made into the critically acclaimed movie “October Sky”.
During Anousheh’s flight, Homer read Ansari’s blog and followed her journey with interest.
“I was completely blown away by what I read in her blog. I used to train astronauts, and I’ve read most of their books, but when I read what Anousheh was writing from orbit, I realized nobody had ever captured the sounds, smells and sensations of space like she was doing. I felt privileged when she asked me to work with her on her memoir.”
“This is going to be much more than just another astronaut book. This is going to be the story of a fascinating woman who overcame tremendous difficulties to succeed. I also see it as a book that will help bridge the gap of understanding between the West and the people of Iran, who are far different than they are often shown in the media. This will be a journey of hope in an often hopeless world that will stir the hearts of people everywhere.”
Hickam has written ten best-selling books, including fiction and non-fiction. His memoir Rocket Boys, also titled October Sky, was a New York Times notable book of 1998, a finalist in The National Book Critic’s Circle awards, and is one of the top picks in community reads across the country. His most recent works has included the historical fiction Josh Thurlow trilogy and Red Helmet, a story of love set in today’s West Virginia coalfields.