Trita Parsi

There’s Something About Holly

There’s something about Holly that you will notice within the first two minutes you meet her. I certainly did.

The first time I met Holly was when she invited me to the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington. She gave me one of those warm welcomes that only she can, and I quickly understood how lucky I was to have gotten a chance to get to know her.

An undeniable presence.

There’s an energy, an almost inexplicably positive and contagious energy that leaves you feeling in a much better mood every time you see her, but then, soon thereafter, you’ll also notice how phenomenally bright and knowledgeable she is.

After my wife Amina first met Holly she said: “I would have loved to meet Holly also as a child.” At first I found her comment a bit peculiar and I asked her why and she responded: “rarely do you meet someone with such a profound interest in humans, humanity and other cultures past and present.. I have a feeling she always had that sparkle and curiosity innately. I just think she must have been very interesting also as a child!” I fully understood what Amina meant and could not but agree.

They say that multi-linguals (or polyglots – like Holly) develop a much stronger understanding of patterns, underlying societal relationships and abstract mechanisms. Each language gives you a whole new shade of meaning – but to fully understand the true meaning of someone’s existence, you need to understand their thoughts, and to do that you need to immerse yourself also in their culture and history. And this is precisely what Holly has done since a young age – it is no wonder that she has such a multifaceted view of the world and the people within.

To methodically learn about others (whether individuals or societies) requires you to for a while set your own feelings and beliefs aside to concentrate on the other person, this must surely lead to the development of greater empathy. In Holly’s case she has dedicated a lifetime to learning about others, need I say more? (Although in Holly’s case I believe that the empathy was there to begin with). I do admire Holly’s capacity to empathize but also her sense of justice and integrity. She is not afraid to take a stance for what is right – she cares about the state of the world and makes sure to make her voice heard. Traits that are more important than ever.

Amina and I are grateful to call her our friend and we are fortunate to benefit from her kindness, warmth and knowledge at every cherished opportunity we’ve had to be with her.

No doubt, there’s something about Holly.