Dr. Sadat arrives home from a long day of work. Greeted by his family, he settles into his favorite spot in the Persian-styled family room. The evening news is switched on, and a gloomy light fills the room as ABC, CBS, or Fox delivers a seemingly endless string of events to the Sadat family’s ears. An hour packed with unreal numbers of people lost, violence committed, and future threats passes by. “Iran must stop its support for terror,” accuses President Bush, and President Ahmadinejad of Iran calls the United States “the great oppressor.” Finally, the television is morbidly turned off, and as its light slowly fades, a small tear makes its way down my father, Dr. Sadat’s, cheek.
Throughout the past few years, our family has watched the news together and felt sorrow for families in Iraq, Lebanon, Israel, and Palestine who have been separated and have faced constant tragedy. But secretly, we felt relieved that the country of my parents’ origin, Iran, had not been affected by the violence. Astounding historical sites, delectable foods and desserts, and most importantly, time spent with family are the blissful images that fill my mind when I think of Iran.
Last summer, I had the opportunity to visit this country and experience the glaring incorrectness of the perception of Iran present in American public opinion. At traditional tourist attractions, I saw royal palaces from hundreds of years ago that had built-in acoustic systems and buildings constructed by mystics that employed all the scientific formulas of today. I was amazed that such advanced thinking was present at a time when thoughts of the United States had not even entered European minds. Tourist attractions only constituted a few days of our trip though, and for the rest of our stay, I enjoyed shopping in the bustling city of Tehran and basking in the affection graciously given by family, friends, and even strangers.
Unfortunately, recent events have left others with a much different picture of my parent’s homeland. Somehow, the false image that Iran is a heartless and backward country which wants to create nuclear weapons and destroy the world has been born in readily believing American minds. Before our trip, I was a readily believing American — born in Iowa and raised in the MidWest for seventeen years. I now see myself as an informed American — one who knows the truth behind the curtain of fallacies presented each night on the evening news. I now understand that the tear that painfully rolled down my father’s cheek consists of frustration and fear for the future of his wife and children, mother and father, brother and sister, and home and country.
Sara Sadat-Hossieny of Cincinnati, Ohio won Honorable Mention for this essay.
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