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Farhang Heydari

Gaining Perspective

By Joy Y. Wang

Fall 2010

In retrospect, Farhang Heydari ’11 admits that he sometimes courted danger during his travels through Asia and the Middle East in 2007. (There is no universal sign for “do not enter,” he notes.) But after graduating from Harvard in three years with a degree in government, Heydari knew he needed to see more of the world to better understand the public policy issues he studied.

Now, as the well-traveled editor-in-chief of the Columbia Law Review, the first-generation Iranian-American not only has a more comprehensive grasp of societal problems, but is also in a position to influence leading academics and lawyers. “It’s going to be a long time before I’ll be able to make an impact like this again,” says Heydari, who is quick to credit the tireless efforts of his hardworking staff. “This position is so much bigger than I am.”

Prior to law school, Heydari spent a year living in Abu Dhabi. There, he led 20 high school students on a Habitat for Humanity trip to Bangladesh, before embarking on his multi-country trek to Laos, Syria, Jordan, and Turkey. “My time abroad affirmed my faith in humanity,” says Heydari, who spent last summer at the Legal Aid Society in New York City and plans to work in public interest law. “People want to help
[each other] but often don’t know what to do. The reality is, legal structures
influence everything.”