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I stood up
There are so many things I still need to learn

By Negin Shadaram
February 4, 2002
The Iranian

My name is Negin. I wrote the letter "Scared out of my mind" for the innocent reason to just share with others how I feel due to the catastrophic events this past couple of days. I have received numerous emails from Iranians and Americans about my letter. A lot of Iranians told me how much they admired the fact a young person like me said how proud I am of my country.

I knew writing to this web site I would be speaking out to the Iranian peopl. I also know that Americans read this web site too and I think that's awesome. Let alone, my main point for the letter was to say how much I love Iran. Some Americans informed me that it sounds like what I'm trying to say is I disfavor America, and unfortunately some people told me to go back to my country if I'm not happy here.

That was not my purpose at all.

I'm so happy here. American people have treated me very well. I have so many things here that I know I wouldn't have in Iran right now. Being a teen girl who doesn't have to cover up is a very good thing. I have been involved in many sports, school dances, going to football games or even getting my license and having my dad buy me a car ... would I have that in Iran?

I think if I were to be in Iran right now, what would I be like? What would my friends be like? Would they judge me by my clothes or what I look like? Would I have different ideas? Would I have experienced things I experience here in any shape or form? I guess most of my questions' answers are No.

I wrote my letter to Iranians who might take in what I'm feeling, and when this is an Iranian web site my intentions were to say how much I care for Iran. And putting up an American flag was not something I would like to do. Why can't I put an Iranian flag outside my house to show I'm standing by my country for whatever might happen due to the attacks?

I have been in America for 10 years. I'm 17 now. My Mom said to me that she still cannot believe she is a citizen. She told me there are so many people out there who wish to come to U.S. to live a better, easier life.

I know everyone has different definitions of being an American. But what is it? Is there one? Would it be okay if I say I'm American and I'm Iranian? Does it make a difference? As an Iranian girl, I have tired many ways to keep up with being Iranian. I have learned verses of Koran. I celebrate every Iranian holiday. I LOVE Iranian food.

Many Iranians also told me things that really helped me understand more. Lately I've been looking for a motive. Since high school is almost ending for me. I have to start looking into college so I needed a motive. And I found it. My motive is to perhaps after college my education and background will help our beloved Iran.

Unfortunately, my school doesn't have much diversity. Out of 2,000 kids you may find less than 10 kids from different countries. I took a huge step and shared my article with my friends who are American and their reaction was so awesome, that I shared it with my teachers, especially my English and History teacher.

My teachers loved it and decided to talk about this with the class. First everyone thought Iran is an Arab country, so did my teacher! My history teacher didn't know a lot about Persians. I was puzzled to hear that and than our topic led on to what is going on in this world and the Middle East. I stood up in class and explained with my knowledge what Middle East is feeling.

In this little tiny way I feel as if I stood up for my country. Even though my country is in so much trouble right now. But just standing up and saying a few things in class gave me an incredible feeling.

I would just really like to say thank you to all of you Iranians who read these articles and respond to them, if it wasn't for you, right now I wouldn't have stood up in my classes and talked about how I felt. I think Iran is a great country but I am very confused about so many things. And at my age I know there are so many things I still need to learn about my motherland Iran. And I will NEVER deny my heritage.

Thank you for letting me speak out again.

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Fly to Iran
By Negin Shadaram

Scared out of my mind
I feel like I can't defend my country

... following the
September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks


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