About the Pilgrimage
About Your Guides
Raya M Hazini
Born and raised in California, I am a first-generation Persian American and a fifth-generation Bahá’í. My passion for religious studies developed from a young age, as I eagerly delved into my own faith and explored others. I even attended my older sister’s Bahá’í classes and joined my maternal grandparents for Mass.
On the basketball court, I excelled, ultimately earning a college scholarship at CSU Stanislaus. My academic journey led me to CSU Sacramento, where I earned a BA in Religious Studies. Later, I completed my MA at Cardinal Stritch University with a focus on Early Church Martyrs.
As the sole Bahá’í student at Graduate Theological Union (GTU), I am currently pursuing my second master’s in Interreligious Studies. My research centers on a transnational feminist perspective, offering a historical analysis of Ṭáhirih, a remarkable woman pioneer leader in the Bábí/Bahá’í Faith. I aspire to obtain a Ph.D. at GTU within the Department of Historical and Cultural Studies of Religion, with a dissertation focusing on Early Women Martyrs within Christianity, Islam, and the Bahá’í Faith.
Dr. Chitra Golestani is currently Associate Director of the Wilmette Institute and an Adjunct Faculty at the Institute for Humane Education/Antioch University. She also works as an educational consultant, guest lecturer, qualitative researcher, and a co-founder of the Paulo Freire Institute (PFI) at UCLA – an organization committed to social justice education locally and globally. Her areas of interest, lectures and research include Human Rights, Social Justice and Global Citizenship Education, Conflict Resolution and Restorative Justice, Youth Activism in Extended Education, Conscious Living and Social Action.
She holds a PhD in Social Science and Comparative Education from UCLA and a Master’s in Education from University of California, Santa Barbara. Her areas of interest, lectures and research include Human Rights, Social Justice and Global Citizenship Education, Conflict Resolution and Restorative Justice, Youth Activism in Extended Education, Conscious Living and Social Action. In September 2019, she began a new administrative position as Associate Director of the Wilmette Institute.
Her work is inspired by her lived experience with persecution in the country of her birth, Iran, where members of the Bahá’í Faith are not allowed to practice, are prohibited from accessing higher education, and denied other civil rights. While still a young child, her family escaped this marginalization and fled to the US in search of religious freedom, equality between women and men and human rights. Currently, Dr. Golestani is engaged in numerous grass-roots programs aimed at raising human capacity, locally and globally, to work towards a more just, united, and sustainable planet.