INTERLOCHEN — Nayereh Doosti isn't simply a writer, she's a storyteller. Words have been her escape for nearly a decade.
The 18-year-old Iranian writer's words were her outlet while her family struggled through the aftermath of a horrific car wreck that left her youngest sister incapable of caring for herself. They're the same words that paved a path that brought her to the United States last October to attend the Leelanua School.
And they're the words she hopes will help keep her in the country long enough to attend college.
It was a little more than a year ago that the young storyteller sent out applications to boarding schools across the United States from her home in Shiraz, Iran. She made the submissions in secret, knowing that the expense of an American boarding school would be nearly impossible for her middle-class family to confront. She knew a plane ticket alone likely would be a stretch.
"I always wanted to get a better education," she said. "The U.S. is where you can get the best education."
She already had been writing under the tutelage of a well-known Iranian writer. She had quickly become an accomplished writer in her native language, Farsi.
But something in her application caught the eye of administrators at the Leelanau School. Despite stretching deadlines for admission and making special allowances for Doosti to get through the process of acquiring a student visa, administrators offered her a scholarship worth more than $50,000.
"It's just the right thing to do," said Norm Wheeler, a teacher for the school. "We're very small and we don't have any money but what we're in business for is to help kids one at a time. We just sort of opened a door and gave her a bed."