Where are you from?


What was your childhood like?

I had a fun and great childhood in Iran. I have an educated family who supports me to continue my study.

What brought you to Cleveland?

Graduate school brought me to Cleveland. I am a research assistant and a phd student of computer science at Case Western Reserve University.

What were your first thoughts about coming to the United States? Did those change?

Lots of things were in contrast with my expectations: I am from Tehran which is capital of Iran. It is mostly like NYC, lots of tall building and nightlife. So I thought all US cities are like that. I came to Cleveland in the winter and I rarely saw people in the street. Old apartments around school, no ring bells, traffic lights hang on the wires not bars. I thought it was a dead city. Later, I figured out some buildings are connected to each other from inside. Moreover,   I thought there would not be any gender inequality in US. But what I am seeing and hearing now is different. Right now, there are just a few girls in the computer science program. However, in Iran half of my classes were girls.

What challenges did you face as transitioning here?

New language and new culture are the biggest challenges. Even in the school. The first days at school were so shocking and funny for me. Students were eating in the class, putting their foot on the desk in front of professor or even call the professor by their first name. In Iran, we have more discipline at school. We even stand up when the instructor enters the class. Another challenging thing was that I could not find a topic to connect to American people. Back home, we usually talk about religion and politics. Here, I have been told not to talk about them at all. So here people usually talk about their pets, calories/diets and sports and I had no idea about them.

What is your occupation?

I am a research assistant and phd student of Computer science at Case Western Reserve University.

How have other Clevelanders made you feel welcomed?

Clevelanders are the most welcomed people I have seen in these years. I have never felt discriminated in any communities here, although I am wearing scarf and have an accent. I felt so welcomed in this diverse community.

What traditions or customs do you continue to practice?

I am Muslim. So I am trying to practice my religion and I am wearing scarf as well. I also celebrate traditional Iranian holidays like new year (it is the beginning of Spring which is March 21st), Yalda night which is longest night of the year.

What do you love about Cleveland?

I love the diversity and multicultural atmosphere in Cleveland. Cleveland has great festivals and restaurants. I love Cleveland because of cheap living expense and in the meanwhile having all the features of big cities like Cleveland orchestra, playhouse square and great museums.

Why is it so important to welcome immigrants and refugees?

Diversity helps to improve the community. People from different background and different culture add values to the society.  Regarding refugees, we should keep it in our mind that nobody likes to run away from home if home is a safer place. We should put ourselves in their shoes. Give and it will be given to you.

Why is it important to travel abroad?

It is a great experience that opens our mind. Traveling to different countries helps us not to stereotype and judge people based on their ethnicity, religion and culture.