It was about four years ago that I returned to the United States from Iran. I was very excited. After all it had been 13 years since I had left the States. There weren't many things that I could remember. But I did remember chocolate chip cookies, Pringles, my yellow school bus and the school field trips which I loved.
As soon as I stepped out of the airport, memories from my childhood started coming back to me and made me realize how much I had missed it here. From the very first day, since I was on a student visa, I had to take care of things such as registration, evaluation tests and placement exams.
I also had to learn how to get around town. It was kind of difficult to get used to everything new, but it was always a relief to know I had relatives and friends whom I could count on when things got out of hand.
Finally everything was settled and I had stepped into a new stage of my life. The first couple of months weren't that busy and I had a lot of time to think. You know, about everything — my parents, brothers, and friends, our neighborhood, and all the memories I had of Iran.
Sure, some things might not be going very well back home, but for me somehow, the good memories especially “dor-e ham jam shodan-ha” (get togethers) and “mohabat-ha” (generosities) were the only things I could remember.
It didn't take long before I started getting homesick. Despite all the excitement of living in America again, I now wanted to go back to “Eeroun khodemoun” (our very own Iran) more than anything else. No matter where or with whom I was, I felt alone. I had a feeling that mysteriously separated me from the people around me. There were times when nothing could cheer me up.
Then I would start drawing, expressing myself in different images and figures. Everyone told me time would change me and that everything would be fine. It's been a long time since then. Everything is fine but I haven't changed.
Although, I have tried to learn how to deal with problems and I have become familiar with people from all over the world, I have tried hard not to change. To tell you the truth, I don't want to change. I look around myself and I see a different world than where I came from. There isn't a day that goes by that I do not remember the years filled with love and joy that I spent in Iran.
You know, we have a rich culture, we have caring people and we have many things to be proud of. There are many precious values that we tend to take for granted and it isn't until we lose them that we understand how valuable they are.
Back home you could always count on people when you needed them and your good friends would cheer you up no matter what your problem was. Even now when I hang out with my Iranian friends, I feel like I'm in a world where there is no sadness.
For all these reasons and more, it truly hurts me when I see an Iranian kid passing the guest room without saying “Hi,” let alone “Salam.” Or parents who don't make any effort to teach their children their culture. Relatives who see each other only on Christmas, but not Nowrouz (New Year's Day).
It's important for us, no matter where we are, to remember we are Iranians. It's certainly exciting to live with people from different parts of the world in harmony and peace and to learn from different aspects of their lives. But let's not forget that we too have wonderful things to offer.