Culturally Blindsided

BY: SHIMA RAZIPOUR 

2006 IRAN 518

If asked about my Iranian culture prior to 2006, I would tell you that I hated it. I was born and raised in Los Angeles where very few of my family members reside. My mother worked many hours to provide a stable home for me and my family, while managing to keep the Iranian culture alive for us.

Despite living in an American society, I realized that most of my morals, beliefs and thoughts orbited and came back to who I was inside, Iranian. My parents moved to the U.S. in 1987 with hopes of providing my brother and I with endless opportunities. My mother’s ultimate goal in life was to return to Iran to see her family again. I did not understand why, as I had heard many negative comments about Iran.

As a child, I always felt different from most of my classmates. I did not have blonde hair or blue eyes. I had olive skin, dark hair and dark eyes. I was physically different, and no one seemed to know what being Iranian was—not to mention where Iran sat geographically.

I always felt a need to understand my culture because unlike most children who were my age, I had no cultural identity. As a result, I continued to seek ways to fit into the American culture through music, fashion and hobbies. At the end of the day, I was just a confused Iranian girl trying to make it in America.

In 2006, my mother was granted American citizenship and she wanted me and my brother to go with her to see where we came from. At first, I had no desire to see Iran or to learn about my culture, given that since Sept. 11, 2001, the U.S. news media spoke so negatively about the Middle East. However, for the sake of my mother’s happiness, I agreed to go along with her.

I spent two months in Iran that summer visiting cities, monumental sites, family and, most importantly, learning about Iran as a country. I was surprised to see how different it was to what I had originally imagined.

For the first time in my 16 years of life, I experienced religion, food, customs and tradition.

I realized that people should not base their impression of a country or its citizens off of its government. Although the Iranian president may speak openly about war, it does not mean the people agree with him.

In 2009, I returned to Iran and was a part of the government riots and am able to say that the media does not elaborate truthfully on what is actually happening.

As a journalism student, I am disappointed with how the media outlets continue to focus on Iran’s government policy and yet again, cast a negative light on it. If the media would change its focus on foreign countries to the good they do then maybe, just maybe, there would be less hate and wars.

At one point in my life, I thought Iran was terrible. But today, Iran is nothing but beautiful in my eyes.