Finding new world

Q&A with Atena Baghbanian


Photo courtesy of Atena Baghbanian

FAMILY. Immigrants from all over the world move to the United States for the abundant freedom and opportunities. In the wake of the changing political climate, it is important to value the contributions of immigrants. Senior Baghbanian reflects on her life living with two distinct cultures. Photo courtesy of Atena Baghbanian

Yasmine Guedira, News Chief

In America’s current political scene, the impact and value of immigrants has been significantly downgraded. America’s diverse culture is what makes our country so special. Around the world, few other countries can compare to America’s atmosphere of acceptance and love. Senior Atena Bagbanian recounts her experiences as an immigrant from Iran.

Q: How and why did your family end up in the US?
A: My parents always knew they wanted to come to America. It would give their children (me) a lot more freedoms than they would have in Iran. My parents came to the U.S. as refugees which makes the laws that Trump tried to make hurt even more. People like my parents and I have been waiting for so long ( my family waited 4-5 years) to get vetted. They have put hours into interviews and paperwork. To see Trump deny them entrance just upsets me to the core.

Q: Do you ever get to visit Iran, and what is it like there?
A: As of now, I still can’t visit Iran, because they are no longer allowing American citizens into the country, as tension between the U.S. and Iran has increased. My entire family is there. I have over 100 first cousins.

Q: How has living in a new culture affected your life?
A: Living in a new culture has been hard. My parents still have Iranian beliefs, and I’m surrounded by American culture for most of the day. They are pretty against tattoos and they won’t settle for me being anything less than a doctor. There are lots of little things here and there that upset me because they don’t understand what it’s like to be an “American.”

I actually visited Iran this past summer and it was amazing. I won’t go into too much detail because it’s all written in my blog. Check out the blog for some really cool pictures and some deeper explanation of the culture

Q: In what ways do you find yourself connected to both cultures?
A: I’m definitely deeply connected to both of my cultures. It’s actually really crazy because I feel as if I am two different people. In my artwork, I represent a lot of Iranian themes and beliefs like the azaan (call to prayer) and some cultural elements like the evil eye. I love the Iranian side of me. It explains my crazy personality so well because when I go over there it’s like everyone gets me. They are all crazy just like me and I’m like “Oh!! So that’s where I get it from.” As an American I am a lot more open minded and liberal and not very religion centered–like Iranians are.

I would say I have morphed into a very good Persian American. I do want to take more steps to educate people about Iran and how kindhearted the people are there and the beautiful architecture. And the Iranian people love America, don’t believe everything the media tells you.