Tehran, Iran: My Story - My Family Travels

Iran isn’t the kind of place that one might visit over summer vacation, but for my family, it was an ideal destination. My dad is Iranian and most of his family still lives in Iran. I had been to Iran four times, but I couldn’t remember because I was so young during my previous visits. So when my parents said we were going to Iran, I was ecstatic!

After two layovers and an uncomfortable flight, we finally landed in Tehran, Iran. I was so relieved to be done flying and wanted to get to my grandparents’ house (we were staying with them during our visit) and take a nap. But of course, we had to get off the plane and get our luggage first. And before I could get off the plane, I had to put on a head scarf that covered my hair and neck and a jacket that covered my knees. I was fifteen years old and considered a woman, so I had to dress the way all the women in Iran do.

Before we left, my dad warned me that I would have to wear a head scarf and my mom, who is American but had been to Iran before, told me how uncomfortable it would be, so I wasn’t surprised when the flight attendants announced that all women had to cover themselves before leaving the plane. I was surprised, though, at how bizarre it felt, in the middle of summer, to be completely covered from head to toe.

We got our luggage and met my grandparents in the terminal. They were as thrilled to see us as we were to see them!  After exchanging hugs and shedding a few happy tears, we got into the car and drove back to my grandparents’ house.

On the drive back from the airport, my grandfather had to dodge piles of rubble all over the streets. I was surprised at how littered the streets were and I asked my grandparents why people left trash everywhere. My grandmother told me that the piles were the remains of bonfires that had been set during that day’s protest.

I had obviously heard about Iran’s Green Revolution on the news and in magazines, my parents even considered canceling our trip because of it. But seeing the littered streets, the piles of debris, and even an over turned car made the Green Revolution seem so much more real. I was amazed at how much the news didn’t show and how much was happening that I didn’t realize

That night, we could hear people shouting out their windows; “Allahu Akbar,” which means “God is great.” My grandmother told me that it was the only safe way to protest. Since people were praising God, it technically wasn’t illegal.

The next day, we decided to go to a museum in Tehran. Driving through Iran’s capital, we saw the Basij (armed guards) in front of various embassies, including the American Embassy. We also saw a large faction of the Basij, with armored cars and guns, in Haft-e-Tir Square. My grandparents decided it wasn’t a good idea to be in the main part of Tehran right then. So instead of going to the museum, we went to a park near their house.

Being in the middle of all of it was tremendously different than watching it on television. It made me realize how censored Americans’ views of the world are; we don’t really know what’s actually happening. And if we don’t know what’s really happening, how can we ever help?

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