Most people in the United States view the Middle East as a dangerous and violent place based on what they hear in the news. I believe that no one should judge a country solely on what the media covers. Ever since I was young I remember Iran was always one of the most discussed countries. I’m going to tell you exactly how Iran is based on my own personal experiences.
In order to do so, let me tell you a little about myself. I am from Iran and I am 100 percent Persian. I speak the native language, Farsi, fluently. Although I have never lived in Iran and I was not born there, I have visited the country many times in my 25 years of life. My entire family resides in Iran with the exception of myself and my parents.
Iran is one of the oldest countries in the world filled with culture, tradition and religion. The Islamic Republic of Iran came into existence in 1979, following the revolution. In other words, Islamic laws are technically considered to override laws of the state, though in reality their relative hierarchy is ambiguous. Iran was just like the United States until the revolution, which changed everything.
I distinctly remember one trip to Iran I took in the summer of 2005. It was in late August and it was uncomfortably hot. This was the earliest trip there that I can remember. When I landed in Iran’s capitol city of Tehran, I was immediately greeted by family members from both my mother and father’s sides. The total family members in attendance were two sets of grandparents, four uncles, four aunts and seven first cousins. It was truly overwhelming in every positive way. As soon as I arrived at my grandparents house, there were even more family members there to welcome me. It was also in the middle of the night. All of my grandmother’s friends wanted to meet her first grandchild who lives in the United States.
I didn’t realize how friendly the people of Iran would be towards me. After all, I barely knew anyone outside of my family. And until I went to visit, I associated Iran with what I heard on the news. I was skeptical and anxious upon arriving. However, once I landed, all my personal misconceptions disappeared. It was eye-opening how the people lived over there with such humbleness. It doesn’t take much to make Persians living in Iran happy. Don’t get me wrong. My family lives across from the Shahs palace in a beautiful home; still, locals don’t need the latest iPhone to make them happy or a new car every year. They don’t desire materialistic objects as we do in the U.S. I definitely noticed that the people were incredibly friendly, exceptionally generous and miraculously ambitious
Every single member of my family in Iran is well educated, they all have great careers and hardly anyone gets divorced over there. It was such a refreshing change to visit a country with such a high value of culture and tradition. We don’t have too much of that in the US. It exists; however it is limited compared to the Middle East.
I was there the remainder of August. I explored the mountains and escaped into a new reality of comfortable living. It was so simple and everyone was happy. My family took me to every part of Tehran. We spent most of our time site-seeing and going out to dinners in restaurants located inside of mountains. It was a truly incredible experience.
When I went back to Iran in 2008, I spent almost all of my time with my cousin Sannam. We were born three days apart and are very close friends. She took me to see parts of Iran that I hadn’t seen before. We went to outdoor hookah cafes, where people our age hung out together. She helped me experience the Iran that foreigners don’t know about.
People think of Iran as such a closed off country, where society would have no opinion and no rights. I saw the beauty of the country where everyone was always in a pleasant mood, everyone leaves their doors wide open. I saw a different side of Iran than what is always portrayed in the news. What I witnessed was a country filled with beautiful, educated people who work hard and enjoy time with family and friends. Everyone gets along, there is no drama and everyone trusts the people around them.
My experience in Iran is something I wouldn’t trade for anything. It has made me learn not to listen to everything in the news. The media is making Iran seem as if it’s filled with vicious people who only want to cause harm to others, what the media failed to show is just how much Iran is like the US.