Monday, February 16, 2009

A New Life

Sherry Mohammady grew up in a Qazvin, a small town located in Iran. While she was growing up she had eight brothers and sisters, and she was right in the middle. Her father was a businessman working as an icemaker for the city of Qazvin, but died in 1986 when she was only 29-years-old.

“I used to love to be outside and take care of my brothers and sisters,” said Mohammady. At sixteen-years-old, Mohammady picked up her whole life and moved to Santa Monica, California, an entirely different world from what she was used to. She left her whole family, except for one older sister who lived in Long Beach, California. Shortly after, several of her other siblings followed in her footsteps, but only two remained permanent citizens of the United States.

After asking why she came to the United States, she said in order to get into the Iranian university, you have to pass a very difficult exam where thousands apply and only around 100 are accepted. She said Iran did not have as many universities to continue education as America, so in order to further her education she had to come to America.

“I still loved Iran, but I knew there was so much more opportunity for me in America,” said Mohammady. She went to Santa Monica College where graduated and continued at San Diego State, where she received her Bachelors in health education.

"I like America but I think of Iran everyday." -Sherry Mohammady speaking in Farsi

She met a man by the name of Siamak Jalali during her college days and married him at the age of 21. They stayed in San Diego to pursue their lives and four-years-later they had a daughter, Leila, and five years after had another daughter, Neda. Mohammady now works for a children’s hospital where she is in charge of billing.

When I asked her the major differences between living in Iran compared to America, she said “I just knew America had a lot more opportunity, especially for women and I knew I had to come to America to get a good education and a new life.” She said she still calls Iran her home and misses it all the time, but knew she wanted to raise her family in America instead of Iran. She said in Iran, the women are the ones who stay home and take care of the children. Some of the women work, but a majority do not, and knew that was not the life she wanted.

However, Mohammady said living in Iran now would be much different from when she lived there. She said, “Now people have a lot more freedom so it is a lot different to live there now than when I did. Religion is more of a public thing now than a private thing like when I was young. Religious people did not have any part of the government or other everyday living.”

As far as the difference in culture between America and Iran, she said there are many differences. “When I came to America I had to start an entirely new life because I knew nothing about American culture before I came here.” She said in Iran, people spend a lot more time with their family. The days are more relaxed and when it comes to family the have their daily teatime. “It doesn’t matter what you do, it just matters that we are all together as a family,” said Mohammady. She also said it is really stressed upon to focus on their education and schoolwork.

When I asked her about her views on becoming a citizen in the United States, she said, “If we are so proud of being a nation of a lot of opportunities then they should make it easier for those who want to become citizens to do so.” She said the brothers and sisters she has back home in Iran have wanted to come to America for a long time, but cannot do so because of the rigorous process.

However, she said the process is just as hard as other countries. “You can never become an Iranian citizen unless you marry an Iranian, and then you will be able to become a citizen, but other than that you cannot,” said Mohammady.

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