Immigration story: moving to america

Immigration story and resulting identity

Mustafa’s father was born and bred in Iran, and after about 30 years of his birth, himself and the rest of his family relocated to the United States basically evading systematic injustices. As he moved to the USA, he had a great deal of hope that life would come better off for him because he had more privileges and peace. “I was about three years of age when the Iraqi –Iran war broke out, and we endured for some years before my father made actual conclusions to relocated to another country in a bid to find peace,” Mustafa said.

Losing loved ones

After his dad moved to the USA, Mustafa revealed his sincere appreciation for life and peace. This is because his immigration story is tied with so much strife, despair caused by loss of his relatives which brought his family a lot of pain and anguish. He lost his mother, grandparents, two sisters and a cousin. He hoped to heal, but even at 40 years, those memories still linger in his mind and tears dance along with his eyelids when he tells us this story. “This was a significant loss in our lives because I only remained with my father and a distant cousin who we decided to move and stay together.

“Every other day brought about wishes of one day going back to the place I had known to be my home and seeing my relatives again even though it was just a dream which never happened.

Adapting to a new home

While in my new neighborhood in the USA, I could see most of my friends happy with their mothers and relatives and this brought immense sorrow to us. I looked forward to holidays when I believed I could go back home and one day embrace my mom and feel all the love she had showered me with before. But things were now different. The USA was now my home and the earlier I accepted it, the better.”

Pursuing football passion

I was an impressive football player. I had played in three different team levels in Iran, and by the age of 11, I had decided that I wanted to be a footballer. When we arrived in the USA, my father was a dedicated man who did manual jobs to keep things running. Mustafa was lucky to be taken to a football school and grew his talent. “As a foreigner, on my first day in the football class, I felt like I did not belong there. I could not communicate to anyone, and at some point, it made me cry so bitterly. I almost gave up my passion. When playing football, everybody as shouting at me and it made me feel like they did not like me. They did, they wanted and needed me on their team because I had exclusive skills.” Mustafa had to learn how to speak English so that he could fit in well and share his thoughts to be a professional in what he did.

Challenges of identity

Being born in an Iranian family but raised in the USA, Mustafa faced a string of challenges concerning his identity. At that moment, he was raised amidst Americans in an urban environment and went to school with white middle-class Americans, something that made him intentionally drop his culture and adopt the American lifestyle and all its cultural norms in his teenage years. This was entirely different from that of his father. Mustafa’s dad solely relied on sign language and made little effort to speak fluent English and learn the American culture and values. Mustafa’s dad was loyal to his Iranian culture and values because they remained to be a necessity even after migrating to the USA. Mustafa, on the other hand, was the second generation and efforts to maintain speaking his parental language and observe their culture was limited and done half-heartedly. Mustafa successfully graduated and had been playing in one of the famous football clubs when he married Clair, and in 2000, Trisha was born. “She is now in grade six,” Mustafa reveals, and that her efforts to learn her father’s language are very minimal and symbolic. The primary reason why Mustafa married Clair was that he was immensely encouraged by his father probably because she has Iranian routes. Mustafa also reveals that even though they have settled in the USA and feel like they have belonged there all their life, foreign Iranians think of themselves as a national collectivity. This can be attributed to the fact that Iranians have a strong cultural background and the love they show to their motherland is a moral requirement as it binds all of them together in an emotional and loving manner. This cultural heritage bond created is used by Iranians as a weapon to repel the pressure of the hosting community for assimilation.

Iranian community in California

Mustafa and his family live in a small Iranian sub-community in California and is still a developing Iranian community. Mustafa’s father identifies himself as pure Iranian because he was born and raised in Iran but relocated as a refugee due to the war that never stopped. He is, therefore, an active member of the Iranian society which has been running in the Iranian sub-community in California, and he hopes that as he continues to meet in these societies, he might one day bump into a relative or two. He still acts more in Iranian way, unlike the American culture. This is the complete opposite of Mustafa who is divided between American and Iranian ways, while Trisha is completely acting like an American.

Overcoming stereotypes

Mustafa who is skilled and educated, he is having a positive experience in the American labor market because after resigning from playing football, he got a stable job as a coach in an international school in America. His daughter Trisha is also advantaged to access the best education. Even though these are achievements he should be proud of, Mustafa notes that it has been challenging for him to overcome stereotypes and negative attitudes which are attributed to Iran including the Iranian people and the Muslim religion. “Over and over again they have faced discrimination at a social level, and the same is even worse to those individuals who did not manage to get a better education.”

Balancing American and Iranian influences

Mustafa admits that together with his wife, he is in love with the American way of life and is currently comfortable, happy and settled something that would have been impossible if he was still in Iran. Whenever he sees his daughter Trisha happy, he feels the price of peace and would not like the same thing to happen to his family they way it did to his father. Even though he appreciates the American culture, he still loves the Persian cuisines which his wife prepares once in exceptional occasions. I also noticed his Persian rugs and home décor which he probably does not notice is inspired by his Persian decent.

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