Through A Child’s Eyes – MY HERITAGE
March 21, 2012 by contributor
My heritage is from very different cultures. My father’s ancestors are from England, Ireland, and Sweden. My father’s ancestors all moved to this country many years ago. All of my mother’s ancestors are from Iran. I have decided to write about my Persian heritage and interview my grandfather about Iran because he is an immigrant.
MY GRANDFATHER’S LIFE IN IRAN
My grandfather was born in a small town called Ghuchan. It is in the northeast part of Iran. He grew up in a larger city called Mashad. He had a very nice childhood. He had a big family with a lot of siblings and cousins around him. He enjoyed studying and acting in plays. He graduated from medical school in Tehran in 1964 at Tehran University. He met my grandmother around that time and they got married in 1966. They left Iran for England one month after they got married in August 1966.
LIFE IN ENGLAND
My grandfather moved to England because he wanted a better medical education. He began his training as a doctor in a hospital outside of London. He didn’t speak very good English at that time so it made his job harder. Papa said that his English got better as the months went by. My grandparents were very homesick in England and missed their families very much. They became much happier when my mother was born 2 years later. My grandparents decided at that time that they could have better opportunity in the United States. In February 1969 my grandparents and mother immigrated to the United States. So that makes my mother an immigrant too!
LIFE IN THE USA
My grandfather finished his medical training in Baltimore, Maryland and then moved to New Jersey in 1971.
My grandparents loved the U.S. because of all of their freedoms. They especially loved that they had free speech. In Iran there wasn’t free speech. If anybody said anything bad about the government, they would go to jail or worse.
My grandfather has now lived in this country for over 40 years and is proud to be an American. He is also very proud of his Persian heritage.
He keeps in touch with his culture by speaking Persian, eating Persian foods, and spending time with his Persian friends. He also publishes a magazine called Persian Heritage. It is a magazine that teaches younger generations about their Persian culture. It also educates Americans about Iran.
My grandparents and mother used to travel to Iran a lot to visit their large family. Unfortunately it has been many years since they have been there because the government is unfriendly. My grandparent’s hope is to be able to go back to Iran one day because it is a beautiful country.
Iran is located in the southern and western part of Asia called the Middle East. Iran is the 18th largest country in the world. It is bordered by many countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Turkey and water such as the Caspian Sea and the Persian Gulf.
The land is very diverse. Iran is one of the most mountainous countries in the world. The highest mountain peak is over 18,000 feet. There are also deserts and rain forests. Iran has many natural resources but the main resource is oil.
The capital of Iran is Tehran and the population is 78 million people.
The official language is Persian. The main religion is Islam but other religions are followed such as Christianity, Judiasm, and Zoroastrians.
The government used to be ruled by the king or Shah. In 1979 there was a revolution and the Shah was overthrown and replaced by a religious government. Many people are unhappy with this government and feel they treat people unfairly, but the citizens are afraid to speak up.
Iran was originally called Persia and ruled by many great kings such as Cyrus the Great. Persia was a huge and powerful empire, which covered a large area including countries like Afghanistan and even Egypt. The great center of Persia was Persepolis. The kings lived there and built many great buildings. Many of those ancient buildings are still present today.
Eventually, the empire began to get smaller after being defeated by the Greeks and Romans. The Persian Empire was known for many great inventions in architecture, poetry, music, science and art.
The original religion in Persia was Zoroastrian. It is an ancient religion that believes in God. When the Arabs invaded Persia, they forced the Persians to convert to Islam. Zoroastrians are still in Iran today but there are not many of them.
Persians celebrate a wonderful holiday called Norouz. It is the most important holiday of the year. It is the Persian New Year. Norouz is celebrated on the first day of spring, which is usually around March 21st.
Norouz means “new day”. Families get together around a special table called the Haft Seen. The table has grass, sweets, coins, flowers and many other things, which symbolize good luck and new life in the new year.
Grownups give children money and they eat a special dinner of herb rice and fish.
There is another celebration called Charshambe Suri. This is celebrated on the last Wednesday before the new-year. Everyone jumps over fire to get rid of bad luck and have a big party afterwards.
I have learned so much more about my Persian ancestry and heritage from my grandfather. I hope to visit Iran one day. I also hope to visit all my ancestors’ countries one day. ■