A Visit to Iran This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


   WhenI had the opportunity to go to Iran for a month I was both excited and scared ofhow different it would be. That journey, however, changed my choices, my views,my life.

After much planning, we finally took off. The long flight mademe even more excited, and also nervous because there was family waiting that Ihad never met. I was afraid they wouldn't accept me, or that I wouldn't be ableto speak their language. I really didn't know what to expect. I couldn't evenimagine how my dad felt; he hadn't been to his homeland since he was 17 yearsold.

We made stop after stop until we were just an hour away. I took deepbreaths as I watched my mom wipe off all her makeup and put on her veil; itseemed everything had changed. I didn't understand why she was doing that, but Ilearned that if she had left the airplane wearing makeup, the women in Iran wouldhave been disgusted. I was going to a country where women must be fully covered,revealing only their faces.

Finally, we arrived in Iran and everything wasdifferent, I felt out of place as people stared. We got through customs and I sawa young girl scream my name. Who could that be? I wondered. It was my cousin. Myfather's family grabbed us and hugged us as if this were the last time we wouldever see each other. They were so excited to see us that standing in the middleof everything hugging didn't matter one bit. As I gazed at my surroundings,feeling scared and out of place, I took my father's hand.

The next daywhen I awoke, I heard a lamb fighting for its life. As I watched two menslaughter it, my eyes shattered into darkness. What was going on? My dad assuredme nothing was wrong; it is the custom when a family member visits to kill alamb. I turned away as they gutted and skinned the lamb, my stomach turned insideout. I couldn't possibly eat what had been killed. I was lost; there were peoplein and out of the house, and people I had never seen before were kissing me. Ihated being in Iran; my excitement was gone and I wanted to go home.

After a week, I started getting used to everyone, and the customs. I went out onthe streets for the first time with my grandmother. I was amazed at how similarit was to home. I encouraged myself to enjoy, because this would be an experienceI would want to remember. There was so much to see, and so much to do. I went toget fresh bread for breakfast one morning - we walked because it was so close -and it cost as little as one cent for a whole sheet. It was amazing.

Ibegan to enjoy myself. As I was introduced to neighbors, I realized they werevery excited to see an American. The place was so small, and everyone was so niceto each other, that they welcomed people no matter who they were. Every nightthere was a party at a different house to entertain us, but at each party we sawthe same people.

After that day, I changed my views. I was able to seethat, all in all, Iranians were really good people. I guess at first it justreally scared me because I had never experienced anything like it before. Thepeople were so nice and so generous. I learned that even though here in Americathere is misinformation and negative rumors about Middle Eastern countries, thepeople are really nice when you get to know them.

The main reason we werevisiting was because my father's sister was getting married. I was excitedbecause I thought I could take off my veil, but no, I was wrong. The wedding keptus separated, with women upstairs and men downstairs. Even the bride and thegroom were separated, at their own wedding. It was very weird for me as I watchedwomen fix their veils to make sure their faces were not revealed.

My timein Iran made me a different person. Even though I was only in third grade, Icould understand how I was changing as a person, with different views andinsights about the world. I know the experience I had was a chance to broaden myperspective, and I am glad I took a chance. I have no regrets.






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This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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