Um bullshit- nothing this girl does is half assed. We first heard of Parisa when she was an intern at the National Iranian American Council– an organization dedicated to furthering the interest of Iranian Americans through outreach focused on Congressional policy issues and cultural events– through her coverage of foreign policy hearings on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. It was during this time that we discovered Parisa’s personal blog IranStories — now featured on Aslan Media as “I Heart Iran.” Fellow blogger dedicated to bashing stereotypes? WE’RE SOLD.
Parisa Saranj: Blogger. Lover of Iranian Culture. Self proclaimed Hardcore Feminist.
Parisa was so honest, quirky and fun throughout her interview. I feel like I was able to learn so much from her just through a single conversation about her experiences as an Iranian American. At S&F, we love hearing stories about how people surpassed what was expected of them and went on to do something amazing, and Parisa is a true testament to that. So we hope that you guys will enjoy reading her interview as much as I enjoyed talking to her.
- Tell me about yourself- where are you from?
I was born in Esfehan, Iran in 1985. I left in 2003 to come to the U.S. when I was 18 years old. I came here with a green card. the initial plan was to come here just to live with my family, not specifically for college. My uncle had applied my father for a green card 13 years ago.
My dad, mom and I ended up getting a green card. But because my brother was over the age of 21, he couldn’t get one. So my dad basically dropped me off in the U.S. where I lived with my aunt and uncle. After a year, I went my own way.
If my brother had gotten a green card too, my entire family and I would’ve moved here together. But when he didn’t, my mom had to stay in Iran and my dad had to leave me in America after six months because he was unable to find a job.
My brother got his green card last week and is here with me now. But in the meantime, my mother passed away, and my dad remarried and went off on his own. So it’s just me and my brother now, and he’s staying with me here in the U.S.
- What was one of the biggest challenges you faced coming here from Iran?
There were three things that I would consider the biggest challenges.
(1). Dealing with crazy relatives. I had one relative who believed that I was too much of a “Muslim” girl so they would force me to eat bacon, buy me sexy lingerie and swim suits. I was like this girl straight out of Esfehan – from a close knit conservative community – I had never worn anything smaller than a large, God forbid my boobs ever showed!
My relatives were forcing me to do the opposite of what I was accustomed to. They just picked on a lot of issues and it had nothing to do with the fact that they are Iranian.
I lived with them in Orange County (California) and after, I moved to the furthest point I could think of. I went to Massachusetts for college and I haven’t been back to California since.
(2). The fact that the toilets here don’t have water to wash yourself with. In Iran, we have a hose — a “shelange.” Luckily, I discovered the wonderful world of feminine wipes that you can buy from CVS. I would die without them. I don’t go anywhere without them. I really think if I didn’t find them, I would go back to Iran just to have a hose in the bathroom.
(3). The biggest struggle was the fact that nothing here tastes like the food in Iran. Unfortunately, I just got used to it. I became a vegetarian two years after I moved here. There is this entire industry of vegetarian food out there that I just love and I feel so much better about myself now. I love tofu, different pastas and pizzas. The world of vegetarianism is so vast and there is so much to explore.
So it was an agony to go to the bathroom, eat tasteless food and deal with my crazy family.