Rendez-Vous Avec Niloofar

A headshot of Niloofar Hedayati

Name: Niloofar

Role: I am the project coordinator for the SWAN (Stakeholders’ walkability/wheelability audit in neighbourhoods) project.

1) Where are you from, and where did you study?   
I recently moved from Iran to Canada, and I am currently pursuing my second master’s in Gerontology at SFU. My previous studies include a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Architecture, and I am now focusing on creating age-friendly built environments.

2) What motivates you to make the world more accessible? 
What truly drives me to make the world more accessible is my belief in equal rights for everyone. In my home country, I observed a significant number of older adults and people with disability who are hidden from society because they cannot easily navigate the world around them. This experience deeply impacted me and fueled my passion to advocate for change. I firmly believe that everyone, especially older adults, deserves to be seen and included, and I am committed to creating a more inclusive society where everyone can thrive.

3) In simple language, describe your research project/the project in which you are collaborating.   

In the SWAN project, we are investigating how neighborhood environments affect the mobility and social engagement of individuals with sensory and cognitive disabilities using the SWAN tool. This project employs a community-engaged approach, involving individuals with lived experiences of disabilities as co-researchers in developing the tool, gathering data, and sharing knowledge. Also, in my own master’s project, I am focusing on social connectedness for people with dementia living in long-term care facilities. Specifically, I am examining the role of the physical environment in either facilitating or hindering social interactions among residents.

4) What are your hidden talent and your greatest quality?  

My personal and hidden talent is my ability to write poetry that resonates with emotions and experiences. I do it purely for the joy it brings me, immersing myself in the beauty of language and self-expression. As for my greatest quality, I would say it’s my empathy. I deeply understand and connect with the experiences of others, which fuels my drive to make a positive impact in their lives.

5) What is the best way to make yourself smile?   

The best way to make me smile is through good food. Whether it’s trying a new dish at a local restaurant or cooking a homemade meal with loved ones, food has a special way of bringing joy to my day.

6) What do you like to do during your hobbies?   

In my free time, I love exploring the city, taking leisurely walks to discover new places and interesting spots. I also enjoy listening to podcasts and audiobooks, immersing myself in fascinating stories and learning new things. Additionally, I find great pleasure in reading biographies, delving into the lives and experiences of remarkable individuals.

7) What place in the world do you dream of visiting?   

There are so many places in the world I dream of visiting, as one of my biggest dream is to travel all over the world. At this moment, I have a strong desire to visit Japan to immerse myself in its culture and traditions. I also have a longing to explore Europe, with its rich history and diverse cultures.

 8) If you could have dinner with a known researcher/scientist/clinician/person who would it be and why?

One of the movies I’ve seen that truly inspired me is ‘Green Book’. This film, based on a true story, follows an unlikely friendship between a working-class Italian-American bouncer and an African-American pianist on a concert tour in the 1960s American South. It’s a powerful story of overcoming prejudices, forging genuine connections, and the transformative power of empathy and understanding. ‘Green Book’ left a lasting impact on me, reminding me of the importance of empathy and breaking down barriers.

As for the book, ‘A Man Called Ove’ by Fredrik Backman is one that truly inspired me. This novel follows the story of Ove, a grumpy yet lovable man who finds new purpose in unexpected ways. It’s a heartwarming tale of human connection, the power of community, and the beauty of second chances. ‘A Man Called Ove’ touched my heart and reminded me of the profound impact kindness and compassion can have on our lives.

9)  If you could have dinner with a known researcher/scientist/clinician/person who would it be and why?

if I could have dinner with a known researcher from the past, I would choose Edward T. Hall. Dr. Hall was a renowned anthropologist known for his work in the field of intercultural communication and understanding cultural differences. His theories on proxemics and the impact of culture on communication have had a profound influence on my own work. I would have loved the opportunity to discuss with him the nuances of cross-cultural communication, the importance of cultural awareness, and how we can bridge gaps between different cultures for a more interconnected world.