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The experience of immigration : the case of Iranian women Sabet-Esfahani, Afsaneh 1988-12-31

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T H E E X P E R I E N C E OF IMMIGRATION:  T H E C A S E OF IRANIAN  by AFSANEH  SABET-ESFAHANI  B.A., Pahlavi University, 1976  A  THESIS S U B M I T T E D THE  IN P A R T I A L F U L F I L M E N T  REQUIREMENTS  FOR  THE  OF  ARTS  MASTER  DEGREE  OF  in THE  FACULTY  OF  GRADUATE  STUDIES  Department of Counselling Psychology  We  accept this Thesis as conforming to the required  THE  UNIVERSITY OF April,  standard  BRITISH  COLUMBIA  1988  © Afsaneh Sabet-Esfahani,  1988  OF  WOMEN  In  presenting  degree freely  at  this  the  available  copying  of  department publication  of  in  partial  fulfilment  of  the  University  of  British  Columbia,  I  agree  for  this or  thesis  reference  thesis by  this  for  his thesis  and  scholarly  or for  her  of  T h e U n i v e r s i t y o f British Vancouver, Canada  DE-6  (2/88)  Columbia  I further  purposes  gain  shall  that  agree  may  representatives.  financial  permission.  Department  study.  requirements  It not  be is  that  the  Library  permission  granted  by  understood be  for  allowed  an  advanced  shall for  the that  without  make  it  extensive  head  of  my  copying  or  my  written  ii  Abstract  This study investigated the question: What is the experience of immigration for Iranian women? approach. migrated  The  This was  by  using an existential-phenomenological  study included four adult single female  to Canada from  this country.  accomplished  The  immigration, from were audio-taped  Iran and, by  their own  co-researchers were asked  co-researchers who  reckoning, were feeling settled in  to describe their experience of  the beginning to the time they felt adjusted. and  transcribed.  The  according to the method described by thirty-two themes were derived.  had  The descriptions  analysis of these descriptions was  Colaizzi (1978).  From the four descriptions  These themes were clarified and  narrative description of the experience of immigration.  conducted  woven into a  Highlighted in the narrative  description were five significant phases involved in the process which depicted an approximate symmetry of loss and  of experiences.  These significant experiences included sense  attachment to the homeland, awareness of differences and  sense of self-invalidation and  disorientation, reviewing oneself and  sense of personal growth, stability and  deriving meaning from  conflicts,  the situation  the experience.  and  TABLE OF CONTENTS  Abstract  ii  Acknowledgements  vi  C H A P T E R 1: Introduction  1  Significance of the Study and Statement of the Problem  1  An Initial Portrait  3  C H A P T E R II: Review of the Literature  7  Acculturation  7  The Marginal Man  10  An Existential and Developmental Model of the Transitional Experience of Immigration  14  Minority Identity Development Model  17  The Refugee Experience  19  A Cultural Overview  21  Rationale for the Use of an Existential-phenomenological Approach  25  C H A P T E R HI: Methodology  28  Summary of Design  28  Selection of Co-Researchers  28  Demographic Information  29  Existential-phenomenological Approach  30  Main Interview  30  Analysis of Protocols  32  Validation Interview  34  C H A P T E R IV: Results  35  Formulation of Themes  35  iv  Themes  37  Themes and Significant Statements  39  Narrative Description  85  A Special Case  89  C H A P T E R V : Discussion  90  Limitations of the Study  90  Theoretical Implications Implications for Future Research  .....91 :  99  Implications for Counselling  100  Summary  102  References  104  APPENDIX A  107  APPENDIX B  235  V  LIST OF  Table I: Co-researcher  FIGURES  Demographic Information (at time of main interview)  30  vi  Acknowledgements  My  deep appreciation and  co-researchers who contribution was me  shared with me invaluable.  the meaningful I owe  thank my  two  so openly  four courageous  their very special stories.  Their  I also thank them for what they taught me,  allowing  experience of writing this thesis.  special thanks  not only as my  gratitude must first go to my  to Dr. Larry Cochran, who  supported  and  committee chairperson, but as a caring teacher and other committee members, Dr. Bill Borgen and  guided  friend.  Dr. M a r v  me, I  Westwood  for their helpful suggestions. To owe  all my  relatives, friends and  much gratitude.  Claire Winstone and  appreciation for helping me I thank my endeavours.  My  throughout  loving parents and most special thanks  husband, whose patience, trust and me him  and  supported  enough.  me  colleagues who  throughout  gave me  their support, I  Swinder Jheeta deserve  special  the entire process. sister for always encouraging to Saeed, my  loving and  in  my  very special  love made possible this study.  the lengthy process.  me  He  believed in  For this, I cannot  thank  vii  To my  daughter Shahrzad, who  delightfully  the successful blending of cultures.  exemplifies  Certain things—the odour of jasmine on my terrace or the two paragraph news item in the paper-can revive the memory of my country. . . . The sights and sounds and smells, the faces of lost friends, the shorthand expressions by which we immediately understand each other without having to launch into detailed explanations: all of these things, I sometimes fear, are fading, becoming more and more difficult to summon up. I'm on a liferaft in a placid sea. I have survived the shipwreck, . . . but I look around at times and ask myself, "what am I doing here?" (Alegrfa, 1984, pp. 11-12)  1  C H A P T E R I: Introduction  Significance of the Study and  Acculturation has place as an  Statement of the Problem  been interpreted as the overall change process  immigrant continuously engages in first-hand contact with  socio-cultural system (Kim,  1979).  Also, Redfield, Linton and  which a  Herskovits  takes  new (1936)  argued that: Acculturation comprehends those phenomena which result when groups of individuals having different cultures come into continuous first-hand contact with subsequent changes in the original cultural patterns of either or both groups. (p. 149). Regardless  of how  positively one  may  view change (of any  associated with varying degrees of pain and  difficulty.  the case of immigrants where change is from one system of values, one  "way  the area of immigration new  and  culture as difficult and  immigration  and  overall study  in what may  somewhat problematic.  Padilla, 1980;  of adjustment to a  In fact, Kim has  (1979) referred to  been raised as  one  of cross-cultural research reveals consistent recurring themes adaptation."  Some of  prevalent problems that seem to occur in the process  1981).  discovery of the discrepancy patterns, etc., and  one  painful types of separation.  value conflicts (Adler, 1975; Sue,  upbringing,  Most, if not all, studies done in  in which one  acculturation are discussed, such as: confusion role and  culture, one  be referred to as "patterns of adjustment and  the more general and  and  This is particularly true in  acculturation refer to the process  separation from the country  of the most significant and An  of being" to another.  kind), the process is  The  and  Berry,  disorientation, issues of identity, 1980;  above seem to occur  between one's own  those of the host culture.  calls for a kind of "resocialization."  of  Chance, 1965;  Kim,  upon one's realization  1979; and  values, beliefs, attitudes, behavioural This realization, Kim  (1979) argued,  Moreover, associated with the above problem  areas are some of the more specific emotional  patterns, such as: alienation and  2  isolation, feelings of helplessness and inability to control one's life and environment, feelings of rejection, bewilderment, tension, hostility, anger, mistrust, defensiveness, feelings of inadequacy Sue,  and low self-esteem (Adler, 1975; Chance, 1965; Kim,  1979;  1981). Most of the cross-cultural research has been conducted  anthropology  and sociology, studying adjustment  than those of individual immigrants. cross-cultural psychology  Only  patterns of immigrant groups, rather  in recent years has the attention of  been focused on the individual's changes in the process of  acculturation, most of which have mainly behaviours  in the fields of  in immigrants (Kim,  examined the "process" itself.  studied changes in overt, observable  1979; Padilla, 1980). According to Padilla  Very  few have carefully  (1980):  . . . missing from most studies of acculturation is an analysis of the impact of acculturation on the psychological functioning of the individual . . . . Rarely is there mention of the psychological processes involved in the individual who is in a state of transition between two cultural orientations . . . . We know very little about how the individual adapts to and/or copes with pressures to acculturate . . . (p. 47) Moreover, most of the research conducted in  in this area has been carried out  the United States and, to date, little attention has been focused on the  psychological aspects of immigrant adjustment been paid to adjustment  in Canada.  patterns of immigrant women.  Even less attention has The increasing number of  first generation immigrant women in Canada, the rarity of research on immigrant women's adjustment  patterns, the increasing number of women who are referred to  counselling services in Canada, the inadequacy  of traditional North  American  counselling methods for dealing with this group of clients, and an observed  slower  pace of adaptation in immigrant women compared to their male counterparts (Chang, 1980; Lee, 1984) make apparent  the need for research in this area.  Being an Iranian immigrant woman, however, my concerned  with women from  Iran.  personal interest is  Therefore, this study was designed to investigate  the meaning of the experience of immigration  for Iranian women in Canada and to  arrive at a description of the experience as actually lived by these women.  This  3  study will hopefully reveal themes that could assist counsellors and therapists to understand  more fully the "as lived" experience of Iranian women, and perhaps that  of other immigrant women in Canada who have lived similar semi-sheltered existences, arrived in Canada not completely by choice (i.e., as refugees) and are first generation  immigrants.  An  In  an attempt  Initial Portrait  to clarify the reason behind my  interest in this study and in  order to make visible to the reader my experiences, assumptions, and  possible biases, I will give a brief account of my  immigrant woman in Canada.  presuppositions  own experience as an  The existential-phenomenological approach recognizes  that man is "bodily engaged, participating, being-in-the-world-with-others" (Colaizzi, 1973,  p. 132).  Hence, it does assume the involvement  of the person of the  researcher in his or her research, which is not so objective as to be technologically controlling. In  February  1980, my husband and I migrated  to Canada upon the  realization that we had a slim chance of emotional, ideological and physical survival (let alone growth) in our homeland, Iran, which was (and still is) undergoing dramatic political and economic upheavals. to this country was the fact that my Canada, mainly Having  Another factor that strongly pulled me  family of origin had already migrated to  for the same reasons. lived a secure, protected and semi-sheltered existence in Iran-as is  most likely the case of most Iranian women—I continued to enjoy the shelter and protection provided for me by my in Canada.  Separation from  loss was lengthy.  my  spouse and family for the first year of my life much-loved Iran was painful and grieving over the  It was only after I decided to let go of the security of my  home and opened myself up to the "outside world," (i.e., school, work, career, community involvement)  that I realized the real magnitude and depth  of the  4  discrepancy between the two cultural orientations in which I was involved. I found  myself confronted with endless internal struggles in trying to  establish a "marriage" caught  I  myself acting and reacting "foolishly" in situations I did not know how to  handle.  My  "self." had  between two different sets of values and life patterns.  self-image was shattered.  I became aware of a "split" within my  I was faced with the painful realization that the strong, confident woman I  known and lived with for long years did disappear almost every time I came  in contact with the large mainstream society and in her place stood an insecure, fragile woman who did not have appropriate responses  to situations with which she  was confronted.  teenage years of confusion.  A  It was as if I had regressed to my  lengthy and painful process of questioning had begun.  under questions pertaining to my actions, my and  identity, my  I found  self-worth, my  myself  crushed  values, my beliefs, my  feelings, my choices (including that of leaving Iran), in short, my being  my existence. I sought  professional help, only to realize the futility of my  struggles in trying to explain "myself  and make myself understood  tiresome by my  therapists (with all due respect for their genuine caring and attentiveness). found myself trying, so faithfully, to make myself understood others in the society at large. credibility.  I struggled with my  I also  and accepted by  I tried very hard to establish my  significance and  Canadian friends and colleagues, my  employers (or  potential employers) and with the various institutions with which I was in touch. I also realized that in an attempt  to bridge the cultural gap, I got myself into  conflictual situations with people from  my own cultural orientation.  In short, I  found myself constantly yearning for understanding, for significance, for intimacy, for a sense of belonging, for security, for roots, for a "home," and for a purpose--a meaning-behind my  uprooting from  my still-loved Iran and my  new existence in  Canada. As  the years went by, as I gradually came to grips with an almost  complete break away from i  Iran, as my contact with the mainstream society  5  increased, as the number and earned  magnitude of my  accomplishments grew, and  more recognition at home, work, school and  found myself again and a "self  which has  deeply and  in the community, I steadily  felt more grounded in my  new  home.  remained, at the core, very Persian and  strongly rooted in Iran, but which has earned  The  having lived this part of my  greatly.  I now  "be"  yet to be met,  and  identity and  exciting.  I owe  changes.  a more encompassing worldview.  discovered and  has  this  still  have a much stronger sense of  openness to the different mysteries, possibilities and me,  me  existence in Canada.  values-some of which have, in turn, undergone profound wider scope of realities and  see in  feels, to this day,  profundity of the changes which I have undergone-although  frightening at times-excites me  for  I, now,  a new  reached a sense of "wholeness" which is unique, novel and sense of wholeness to my  as I  answered.  I now  I now  my  have a  feel a greater  questions that life has in store Moreover, I have learned to  to accept graciously what comes, for I have truly arrived (through  personal experiences I know I would not have had, had  I stayed in Iran) at the  conviction that in every event, every incident, lies a meaning to be discovered. Frankl's (1978) words: ". . . life retains its meaning under any  In  conditions" (p. 41)  and . . . what counts and matters is to bear witness to the uniquely human potential at its best, which is to transform a tragedy [or any event, for that matter] into a personal triumph, to turn one's predicament into a human achievement. (p. 39) As  part of my  human achievement, I wish to see this study contributing to an  increased understanding of the phenomenon of immigration. most effectively be done through  this, I believe, can  a careful, first-hand search into the depths of  co-researchers' experience as lived by The  And  main reason behind my  them in their new  my  home.  choice of methodology comes from:  1) finding  that there exists no description in the literature of what exactly the experience of immigration  is and  what it means for those who  undergo it; 2) believing that  human phenomena must be investigated in a vibrant and  humanistic manner, one  6  which takes into account the totality of the individual and his or her experience; 3) believing that any human phenomenon must be contacted as lived by the individual (Valle & any  King, 1978); and finally, 4) holding the conviction that the description of  experience--the only true access to the world of the describer-must come from  the describer himself or herself (Giorgi, 1975). "It is the meaning of the situation as it exists for the subject that descriptions yield" (Giorgi, 1975, p. 74).  Hence, with a detailed description of the  experience of immigration for women, and consequently a more accurate and precise understanding of the phenomenon, researchers and clinicians will be better able to facilitate the adjustment process of their clients and to help them create success stories.  7  C H A P T E R II: Review of the Literature  Acculturation  Acculturation has place  as an  been interpreted as the  immigrant continuously  socio-cultural system (Kim,  1979).  fields within anthropology and  overall change process which takes  engages in first-hand contact with a Until recently, research  sociology, studying  new  in acculturation occupied  phenomena resulting from  first-hand continuous contact of groups with different cultural orientations (Redfield, Linton  &  Herskovits,  1936).  In  1954,  the  Social Science Research Council gave a  rather comprehensive definition of acculturation as: . . . culture change that is initiated by the conjunction of two or more autonomous cultural systems. Acculturative change may be a consequence of direct cultural transmission; it may be derived from non-cultural causes, such as ecological or demographic modifications induced by an impinging culture; it may be delayed, as with internal adjustments following upon the acceptance of alien traits or patterns; or it may be a reactive adaptation of traditional modes of life. Its dynamics can be seen as the selective adaptation of value systems, the process of integration and differentiation, the generation of developmental sequences and the operation of role determinants and personality traits. (p. 974) The  majority  have generally culture and  of anthropological  done so by  defining the  1979;  1977;  Olmedo, 1979).  methodological issues and  1980).  original culture (Nagata, 1969).  Padilla, 1980), and  values to that of ethnicity and  1980;  "ideal" value system of the "dominant"  More recent  area of cross-cultural psychology have shifted from focusing on  individuals (Kim,  Sue,  sociological studies exploring acculturation  then measuring the degree of internalization of such a value system  a replacement for that of the in the  and  Dyal &  Dyal,  1981;  studies  groups to  from emphasizing the dominant cultural  understanding ethnic groups (e.g., Chance,  Also, an  increased  interest can  be  1965;  observed in  the measurement of acculturation (e.g., Der-Karabetian, Goldlust &  as  Richmond, 1974;  Olmedo, 1980;  Padilla,  Some of the. more recent models of acculturation include the following.  8  In their multivariate model of the adaptation process of immigrants to Canada, Goldlust and Richmond (1974) suggested process of adaptation: pre-immigration  that three factors affect the  characteristics and conditions, length of  residence in the host country, and situational determinants government policies, industrialization, pluralism, etc.). by  in the host culture (e.g.,  Acculturation is then measured  the economic (e.g., occupational mobility), cultural (e.g., interchange of cultural  symbols), social (e.g., integration into the host society via primary political (e.g., voting) aspects of the immigrant's life.  relationships), and  Acculturation is also  measured by the more subjective (personal) elements of 1) identification (a modification of one's sense of identity and transference of loyalty from  one's former  country to the new); 2) internalization (a change of attitudes and values); and 3) satisfaction (relative comparisons with one's situation in the pre-migration phase). According to Berry (1980), acculturation takes place at both the group level and  the individual level.  Acculturation, Berry argued, is a three-stage process:  contact, conflict and adaptation.  The conflict, following contact with the larger  society, involves varying degrees  of resistance, since people, in general, do not  lightly give up valued features of their original culture. through  which the individual tries to reduce  the individual level takes place mainly  the conflict.  Adaptation is a process Acculturative change at  in the areas of language usage, cognitive  style, personality, identity, attitudes and acculturative stress (mild psychological disorders). Padilla (1980) suggested  another  multi-dimensional model which involves, as  its essential elements, the two concepts of cultural awareness (the individual's knowledge of specific cultural material such  as language, values, food, etc.) and  ethnic loyalty (the individual's preference for one cultural orientation over the other such  as self and ethnic-identification).  Mexican-Americans, Padilla (1980) used  In a study involving a large group of criteria such  as: ethnic language familiarity,  knowledge of Mexican history and cultural symbols, and legal first names to measure the level of cultural awareness; and criteria such as: language choice,  9  preferred first names and  first names of children, and  preference for and  consumption of Mexican or American food to measure the level of ethnic loyalty. Taking into account  some individual factors such as educational level, he  then  introduced a typology model in which the person with very low levels of ethnic cultural awareness and  ethnic loyalty is considered as highly acculturated and  vice  versa. As  can  be seen, certain elements remain significantly important  the above models.  Change is a must in the process of adaptation.  across all Moreover, it  seems that among areas most significantly affected by change are: the values system, behaviours, attitudes, cognitive style, language usage and most importantly, self and Why happen?  To  what degree and  there more detailed stages involved?  emotionally?  What facilitates the process?  how  do  How  does the  What meaning (if any) does he  Is involuntary migration an  important  factor?  And  is there more that happens to the individual involved in the process? what?  they  What happens to the individual  What hinders it?  individual himself or herself perceive the outcome? or she extract from it?  and  ethnic identity.  do these changes take place? Are  communication,  finally,  If yes,  These questions, for the most part, remain unanswered. Most studies of acculturation/immigration include scattered comments about the  deep emotional, psychological and Areas such conflicts and  as confusion and the emotional  briefly touched 1965;  upon by  Goldlust &  developmental  experiences inherent in the process.  disorientation, issues of identity and  role and  reactions associated with these problem areas are only  most researchers in the field (e.g., Berry, 1980;  Richmond, 1974;  have studied the emotional  value  Kim,  1979;  Padilla, 1980).  Chance,  Moreover, those  adjustment of immigrants have done so by  measuring  pathological/medical symptoms of the individual's maladjustment (e.g., Murphy, Weinberg, 1961). While models of acculturation tend to view adjustment externally (e.g., through  external conditions), personal accounts  who  provide an inside view of  1974;  10  acculturation that add new aspects to consider.  Upon contact with the new culture,  the immigrant (male or female) becomes confronted by a whole new orientation to life which challenges the individual to experiment form of existence. his  and experience a new and foreign  The totality of the person becomes attacked and challenged (e.g.,  or her values, self-esteem, identity) as a result of this contact.  Out of this  conflict and out of this challenge, if one is to adjust, comes a person  who has  outlived the fires of two melting pots and is in relative harmony with both (Stonequist, 1937).  Having  passed  the challenge, the person learns to live an  existence potentially stronger than the one lived before migration.  The following  three studies provide support for this view, and for the initial portrait, as presented in the previous chapter.  The  Marginal Man  "It is in the mind of the marginal man that conflicting cultures meet and fuse" (Park, 1928, p. 881). What is a marginal man? the marginal man as "the individual who through  Stonequist (1937) defined  migration, education, marriage or  some other influences leaves one social group or culture without making a satisfactory adjustment member of neither.  to another, finds himself on the margin of each but a He is a 'marginal man'" (p. 2).  Stonequist assumed that  through interaction with others, the individual gradually recognizes a place in her or his  social world and tries to live up to those standards, evolved from  his or her  experience in this social world (doubly rooted in the established codes and patterns of  her or his group and his or her own self-respect).  maintained of  The unity and harmony  and present in the social system are reflected in the unity and harmony  the individual's personality, including her or his sentiments, self-concept,  aspirations and life style.  "His conception of self will have a core of certainty  paralleling the continuity of his group membership" (p.  2).  11  An  active contrast  and  conflict of two  or more cultures, to at least one  which the individual feels belonging, disrupts the unity and individual's social world and personal  activates in him  national/ethnic loyalties. the groups finds an  In Stonequist's  harmony of the  or her inner conflict and  tension, which, in turn, seem to force her  or him  (1937) own  to choose between  words: "The  The  immediate physical contact  the marginality  of the situation to be  phase.  Stonequist  the conflict of the cultures involved. group attitudes flowing Stonequist  belonging to  immigrant's life.  present, direct  and Only  The  person must experience  It is the person's experience of the conflict of the marginal  man.  (1937) stated that the experience of immigration is most  He  with a strong  sense of loss--within many aspects of the  classifies the immigrant as  "depayse" (stripped of country),  (stripped of status, particularly for those who at the heart of the problem, "deracine"  In this transition, Stonequist  the individual's self is an  has  not yet acquired  experience downward social  (uprooted, stripped of roots).  claimed, the marginal man,  something of his former self and  the deracine, a new  and  integral part of his/her social role and  "has  lost  stable self.  For  when this social  role is fundamentally changed the individual's self is forced through a similar transformation"  or  (1937) further argued that a mere  from cultural differences that helps create  significantly associated  mobility) and  the  totally settle in the immigrant community does he  mixing of cultures does not create the marginal man.  "declasse"  This  with the mainstream society is a necessary factor.  when the individual does not enter  external conflict of  marginal person is thus created.  In order for the marginality  she  two  personality," a split in the person's "soul" and  individual finds herself or himself estranged from both groups and neither.  acute  echo in the mind of the individual concerned" (p. 4).  inner conflict leads to a "dual  of  (p. 6).  Fear of the unknown is present at the decision to leave and homesickness associated  with the sense of loss are prevalent  the beginning-particularly  for individuals with a proud and  feelings of  upon arrival and  in  self-conscious history.  12  His mind is filled with vivid memories of the old life which, moreover, become idealized with distance and time. The difficulties and rebuffs of the new conditions tend to throw him back in imagination toward the land he has left. He rebels against the thought of giving up tastes and characteristics which he has formed in youth. (p. 88) Moreover, the marginal person becomes overwhelmed and shocked world as his or hers becomes disorganized.  at the new social  He or she feels confused, loses  direction, loses her or his sense of judgement (of the situation or of self) and becomes very self- and race-conscious. the eyes of two social groups personality.  The person sees himself or herself through  and develops a double consciousness, a dual  He or she suffers from  a divided loyalty and ambivalent  attitudes.  Some of the overt manifestations of what happens to the individual at the affective level are: hypersensitivity, withdrawal and/or  blaming one group  or the other for  one's own failure to adjust, concluding that the differences are too great to bridge. Also, the marginal person often vacillates in his or her feelings and attitudes toward  the host society, depending The  life cycle of the immigrant,  stages: pre-marginality—when  permanent adjustment  according to Stonequist, consists of three  the person is not yet fully aware of the conflict "out  there"; crisis or marginality—when and  on the situation.  the person consciously experiences the conflict,  or lack of adjustment.  To clarify these stages Stonequist  (1937) used the analogy of "the protected environment  of childhood, the widening of  social contacts and ensuing conflicts of adolescence, and the necessary accommodations of maturity" (p.  122).  Having been caught in the crisis stage and in situations where one's usual ways of being break down and one's conception of self calls for change, a process of transformation begins, only after a prolonged and painful process.  The individual  must, then, "find herself or himself again" and reconstruct a new conception of her or  his self as well as a new place in the society.  social, mental  Some immigrants  and emotional transformation as a rebirth.  speak of this  13  According to Stonequist (1937), the marginal  person evolves from marginality  (or tries to do so) in three different ways: 1.  By  assuming a "nationalistic" role through  self-respect by  which he or she  fully assimilating into his or her own  seeks and  gains  cultural/ethnic group  by--for the most part—striking against the dominant society.  and  Extreme political  leaders are among this group. 2.  By  trying to assimilate completely  into the dominant culture.  relinquishing, rejecting and, in extreme cases, denying heritage/background  Since  one's own  cultural  are prerequisites for assimilation (or passing), Stonequist  predicted that this course of action might lead to future personal and  social  disorganization. 3.  By  assuming an  and Using person and  intermediary role.  This role leads to an  rapprochement" between the clashing cultures.  Park's  (1928) concept of "the wanderer," Stonequist (1937) argued that the  assuming the intermediary role frees himself or herself from local prejudices  values, becomes detached  qualities of nearness  and  from both worlds and  remoteness which give him  true "multicultural person, the true internationalist." understands values.  "accommodation  and  unites in her or his person or her the objectivity of a The  internationalist first  becomes in harmony with his or her own  Since self-understanding promotes the understanding  then, becomes able to understand can  look at a situation or problem from more than one  one  language to another, can  acceptance  nationality and its of others, the  the values in other national cultures.  person,  He  or she  viewpoint, can shift from  feel successful inner adjustment and  the foreign culture contributing to its richness.  the  can  This situation permits  penetrate into the social  of the individual upon a self-respecting basis.  Perhaps the finest citizens of foreign origin are those who have been able to preserve the best of their ancestral heritage while reaching out for the best of what America can offer. They have been able to create a balance between continuity and change, and so have maintained reasonably stable characters. (p. . 206)  14  Stonequist  (1937) argued that situational factors work hand in hand with the  evolving personality to hinder strong hindering  factors.  or facilitate the process.  cultural orientation and  culture, lack of emotional support from one's own  are  that of the  host  community, lack of skills  and  the experience of rejection from the host society are among the most  significant hindering elements. society via friendships and  On  the other hand, acceptance in host and  work, sense of pride in one's own  language acquisition, exposure to different beliefs and perception  prejudice  Disillusionment with the host society, downward social  mobility, great gaps between one's own  language, and  Racism and  own  skills/trade and  job,  ideas (e.g., intermarriage),  or experience of equality of public rights and  freedom of culture are  among factors that facilitate the process of adjustment which, according to Stonequist,  is basically a question  of psychological integration.  Also very  helpful in  the process is the sense of identification with a meaningful movement or task which could be  strong enough to render the racial and  significance.  national difficulties secondary in  In conclusion, what seems most important in the process is that the  individual face her  or his inner conflict in an  unfriendly and  confused world.  Essential to this process is that the individual must not deceive and  must not deny his or her  external  An  cultural existence, "to be  oneself  herself or  himself  in the face of  pressures.  Existential and  Developmental Model of the Transitional Experience of Immigration  In this model, Adler (1975) put different perspective  and  the experience of culture shock in a  argued that: "A  result in the movement of personality and values, attitudes and consciousness and  successful cross-cultural experience identity to a new  understandings" (p. 15).  awareness can  be  He  instrumental  consciousness of  further argued that this to personal  should  growth.  new  15  Adler defined culture shock as "primarily a set of emotional reactions to the loss of perceptual reinforcements from one's own culture, to new cultural stimuli which have little or no meaning and to the understanding of new and diverse experiences" (p. 13). a form of alienation.  He further argued that culture shock "in one sense . . . is In another sense, however, it suggests the attempt to  comprehend, survive in, and grow through immersion in a second culture" (p.  14).  Adler thus suggested that the negative consequences of culture shock can be associated with and followed by an important aspect of cultural learning, self development  and personal growth.  authentic growth  Inherent in the conflict he saw a potential for  (dialectic).  Adler (1975) based his positive approach on the following assumptions: 1.  The individual has the tendency to refer to groups for identity, loyalty and outlook.  A t the same time he or she has the tendency towards  and wholism.  integration  These two tendencies work together when the individual tries  to understand both the universe/world and himself or herself.  Thus, "in  situations of psychological, social, or cultural tension, each person is forced into redefinition of some level of her or his existence" (p. 2.  14).  The individual experiences the world through values, beliefs and assumptions influenced by his or her culture.  3.  Contact with other cultures and movement from one's own culture to another bring into one's awareness  and conflict cultural predispositions of which one  had, thus far, not been fully aware. 4.  The psychological movement into new realms of experience tends to produce disintegration in the person's personality, which is the basis for movement of personality to a higher level, a movement toward integration. Adler (1975), then, suggested a five-stage model of the transitional experience  which  "is a movement from a state of low self- and cultural awareness  of high self- and cultural awareness" 1.  Contact  (p.  15).  to a state  16  At this stage the individual, still integrated with and "insulated" by his or her own  culture and ethnocentrism, is excited and intrigued by the new  experience.  Similarities, rather than differences, between the two cultures  come to the foreground of perception and become validations of the individual's own  status, role and identity, which, in turn, reinforce continuity  of his or her own 2.  cultural behaviours.  Disintegration This is a stage of confusion and disorientation. the foreground of the, person's perception.  Cultural differences come to  The person loses sense of  judgement and understanding of various confronting situations and thus becomes frustrated at her or his inability to respond  appropriately.  The  person feels different, isolated, inadequate, bewildered, depressed, withdrawn and 3.  lost in his or her identity.  Reintegration A t this stage, the individual stereotypes, generalizes, judges and rejects the host culture and its members.  He or she blames the host culture for his  or her personal difficulties and may, in defence, seek security from the familiarity of her or his own an  alternative.  stage.  cultural group.  Returning home may  become  Anger, rage, and frustration are felt most strongly at this  Adler viewed  these reactions as natural, healthy and constructive for  the forming of a basis for "new  intuitive, emotional and cognitive experience"  (p. 17). 4.  Autonomy The  individual now  cope with the new and  are viewed  develops understanding of the host culture and skills to situation.  Differences and similarities become accepted  in a different light.  communication flows more easily. cultures.  He  The individual becomes flexible and  The person feels well-versed in both  or she also senses his or her ability to survive without what  Adler called "cultural cues" from  her or his own  culture.  He  or she also  17  senses his or her ability to experience new situations.  The person feels  more secure, self-assured and relaxed as an "insider-outsider" of both cultures. 5.  Independence A t this stage the individual has developed behaviours that are independent (p. 18).  "attitudes, emotionality and  but not undependent of cultural influences"  The person becomes capable of accepting, appreciating and drawing  nourishment from  the differences and similarities and views herself or himself  as well as others as individual human beings influenced by upbringing. Choice and responsibility are exercised in situations which are now given meanings, and the person becomes open to explore the diversity of other human beings.  He or she gains strength to undergo further transitions in  life, to explore new dimensions  and to be challenged again with regard to  her or his values, attitudes and assumptions.  Now, "the self- and cultural  discoveries have opened up the possibility of other depth  experiences" (p.  18).  Adler (1975) concluded that the transitional experience begins with the encounter  with a new culture and evolves into an encounter  with one's self.  As a gestalt, the transitional experience is a set of intensive and evocative situations in which the individual perceives and experiences other people in a distinctly different manner, and as a consequence, experiences new facets and dimensions of existence. (p. 18)  Minority Identity Development Model  Atkinson, Morten and Sue (1979) developed (MID)  model based  a Minority Identity Development  on a two-decade-long observation of their minority clients in the  U.S.—whom they viewed as "oppressed."  The researchers held the assumption  that  attitudes and behaviours are flexible and a function of the individual's stage of development.  Minority attitudes and behaviours, therefore, are viewed as products  of an identity development continuum.  This continuum, according to the researchers,  18  consists of five stages: 1.  Conformity At this stage, the person her own.  values the dominant culture's values over his or  He or she depreciates self and own group's characteristics and  views them as sources of shame. 2.  Dissonance This stage is typified by cultural confusion and conflict. the person encounters  This happens when  ideas, information and experiences inconsistent with  those previously held and known about the mainstream society and is led to challenge them.  A t this stage the individual's feelings towards self, own  group and the dominant society alternate (from positive to negative and vice versa). 3.  Resistance and Immersion A t this stage, the individual completely endorses views and rejects the dominant culture.  his or her own  group-held  He or she takes pride in her or  his own culture which helps enhance his or her self-worth.  At the same  time, the individual experiences a" sense of distrust and dislike for all members of the host culture. 4.  Introspection The  individual now feels discontented and uncomfortable  with her or his own  group views and does not feel the previously strong desire to adhere to them all.  He or she now desires individual autonomy and experiences some  inner conflict between this desire and that of allegiance to one's group. Moreover, dependent on his or her experience with individual members of the host society, he or she develops an attitude of selective trust (or distrust) toward them. 5.  Synergetic Articulation and Awareness The  individual establishes her or his identity, first as an individual and then  as a minority and/or dominant group member.  This leads to a strong sense  19  of self-worth; self-confidence, self fulfillment and his or her cultural background and  autonomy.  Feeling proud  of  empathic toward his or her group, the  individual recognizes her or his freedom to accept or reject some of his or her group values.  The  individual feels open and  positive elements and/or sympathetic  trusting toward some  members of the dominant group.  she learns to see and respect each member of any human beings regardless of differences and  The extent.  models and  no  distinction has  marginal woman?," asked  been made between male and  Lee  process of their adaptation.  (1984, p. 26).  account  female "What of the  This question is of particular  when dealing with a culture which distinguishes, at times rigidly,  between men such  similarities.  studies presented seem to reflect the initial portrait to an  immigrants in studying the developmental  importance  or  group as individual  Nevertheless, none of them, significant though they are, take into  sex differences and  He  and  women.  Lee  suggested  that the subordinate position of women in  a culture calls for a more gradual and  turn, have a deeper  difficult acculturation, which may,  in  impact.  The  Refugee  Experience  A refugee is a person who owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable, or owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself to the protection of that country. (U.N., 1971) The all  political and  ideological situation of Iran is not an unknown story.  Not  of the Iranians currently residing in Canada have crossed this country's borders  under the classification of "refugee" (though especially since 1984).  a great number of them actually have,  Nevertheless, most, if not all, have left/fled Iran to escape  living conditions under the rule of a fascist, fundamentalist religious regime or to escape the dangerous consequences of the Gulf War.  Some have been politically or  20  religiously persecuted. (including  The fundamental rights of many have been violated  that of speech, work and dress code).  Most, if not all, have left their  homeland against their own will, and many cannot return.  Therefore, we can  assume that the Iranian population in Canada, which has been rapidly  growing in  the last decade, shares with the refugee community of this country many (not all) experiences and sentiments, some of which differ in nature and/or degree from of immigrants who left their homelands voluntarily  those  and in search of a better life:  Consider the following report of refugee experiences. According to D'Souza (1987), exile "is a form  of radical repression, which  forcibly removes the actor from  his natural environment, his country" (p.  203).  Unlike immigrants who, argued  Westwood and Lawrance (1987), perceive their  voluntary migration to a new country as "the end of one way of being and the beginning of another end  nor a beginning.  1987).  " (p. 5), the exile sees arrival in the new land as neither an The exile looks back at what he or she has left (Wright,  The hope of ultimately returning home remains with the exile and hinders  the process of his or her adjustment. The  strong sense of loss experienced due to forced separation from the  homeland and the felt guilt for abandoning one's country and people are among the most significant and powerful aspects of an exile's experience. many losses the refugee experiences is the disintegration structure of meaning for the individual.  A result of the  of meaning—a loss of  To reconstruct and/or restore this  structure, Westwood and Lawrance (1987) argued  that the sense of the self of the  individual, which has been so "radically uprooted" needs to be attended to. Without such attention to this dimension of self-validation, the host society is neglecting to fulfill the moral imperative it has taken upon itself in its humanitarian policies" (p. 12).  21  A  Iran, formerly  Cultural Overview  called Persia, is a predominantly Moslem country in the  Middle-East whose people (Moslem and profoundly  influenced by  other Asian their own  Islamic  traditions.  distinctive characteristics and  and  Although Iranians  countries many traditional beliefs, life styles and  will be used interchangeably very  non-Moslem) hold values  qualities.  The  ideas which  are  share with many values, they have  terms Iranian and  Persian  in this study, since both refer to inhabitants of the  ancient country of Iran or Persia which is believed to have been the  home of the Aryan (Indo-European) race.  first  In fact, the word Iran means "home of  the Aryan." Their glamorous and cultural heritage.  Graham  sense of nationality and  colourful history gives Iranians much pride in their (1978) characterized Persians  patriotism.  Iranians  losing one's Persian identity is considered  as people with a  love their country and  shameful.  Iranians  uniqueness, attributed to the richness of their history and Persian Empire).  take pride in their  civilization (i.e., the  they have much difficulty in  the smallest mistake for fear of losing face and Jalali,  1982;  Nyrop, 1978;  self-respect (Arasteh,  don't readily trust "outsiders" (Graham, 1978).  are openly expressed only toward God The  and  who admitting  1964;  Zonis, 1976).  Iranians have been characterized generally as mistrusting and people who  for them,  This strong sense of pride makes them boastful people  believe strongly in holding one's dignity and  Graham, 1978;  strong  suspicious  Trust and  toward one's family and  family is the most significant element of Iranian society and  submission  close friends.  culture and  people  rely on family connections for influence, power, position, protection, security, and support (Jalali, 1982; sacrifice for one  Nyrop, 1978).  another.  Family members are expected to, and  Family ties are very  keep, at all times, the unity and  strong  and  dignity of one's family.  both obliged to work for the prosperity and  do,  it is one's duty to Men  and  women are  happiness of their families (Haeri,  22  1980;  Nyrop, 1978).  maintaining  Women, of course, are held much more responsible for  the family's "good" name and reputation (Nyrop, 1978).  Individualism  does not exist (to the extent it does in North America) and family loyalties and obligations take priority in an Iranian's life.  The family, being the unit of the  society, is to be kept unified at all times (Jalali, 1982; Nyrop, 1978). Marriage of both sexes in Persian families from all religious backgrounds must take place with parental consent (Nyrop, 1978). and  despite the previous  Polygamy is an Islamic law  regime's various efforts to abolish it, it is still exercised in  some areas (e.g., rural) and within some families (traditional middle and lower classes) (Haeri, 1980; Nyrop, 1978; Safa-Isfahani, 1980). still take place among the population Nyrop, 1978; Safa-Isfahani, 1980). very  Arranged marriages, too,  mentioned above (Haeri, 1980; Jalali, 1982; Sexual mores, especially for single women, are  strong and chastity is highly revered.  Pre-marital sexual activities are scarce,  much more for women than for men (Safa-Isfahani, 1980). The  Iranian society is patriarchal.  Within  the context of the family, father  is the head of the household and other members feel a strong sense of duty toward him (Jalali,  1982; Nyrop, 1978).  role of the woman is that of subordination  In an Islamic framework of ideology, the and submission and her duties consist  mainly of domestic ones (Beck, 1974; Bonine & Keddie, 1981; Haeri, 1980; Jalali, 1982;  Mahdi, 1981; Millet, 1982; Safa-Isfahani, 1980).  Results from  an exploratory  survey from five universities throughout Iran on the attitudes of the subjects toward equality of the sexes and sex-reole stereotyping (Farnoodymeher, 1975) indicated that sex-role stereotyping exists even among university students.  The findings also  reveal that a majority of men who participated in the study characterized women as: unambitious, passive, undependable, dependent, intuitive, emotionally competent!  unstable, but  Also, middle class mothers in Iran were observed to foster more  independence in their sons than in their daughters (Madanipour, 1978).  Education,  although compulsory for both sexes at the elementary level, is pursued more by men than by women, at all levels.  In short, the Iranian society is characterized  23  as extremely male-dominated  with a strong sense of sex-role values.  Iranians are very class conscious and (Jalali, 1982; Nyrop,  1978).  have a strong sense of class structure  Nyrop stated: Iranians "refer to the groups, commonly  called the upper, middle and lower classes in the West, as first, second and third levels of society" (p. 164).  The  distinction between classes have steadily become  more apparent since industrialization and modernization of the country began during the  reign of Reza  Shah Pahlavi (1925-1941) and  since the 1960s an accelerating  growth of professional class families has taken place (Bill, 1973; Nyrop,  1978).  As  a result of modernization, the middle class, also, has been divided into two  distinct  upper and lower, or modern and traditional, middle class groups (Bonine &  Keddi,  1981; Jalali, 1982; The  modernized  Nyrop,  1978).  The  two  groups differ greatly in many respects.  middle class comprises those Iranians with Westernized education,  professional background, more liberal values, modern life styles and clothes, whereas the  traditional middle class includes bazaar merchants, mullahs (Moslem clergy) and  wealthy guild members who to  have lower levels of education and  adhere much more  religious (mainly Islamic) practices (e.g., women's dress code, which  complete cover up of the head  and body) (Bill, 1973; Nyrop,  Keddie (1981) stated that the two and cultural values.  The  1978).  calls for a Bonine  and  groups differ greatly with regard to life styles  above authors characterize the modernized/westernized  middle class as one calling for women's education and greater equality between sexes and the traditional class as one trying to justify at least a degree of inequality. This shifts our attention back to women, particularly to those whose experiences are being explored in this study.  It is important to note that the  majority of Iranians residing in North America the  modern middle class and  (especially in Canada) are among  educated Iranians who  hold more liberal values.  This  group of immigrants includes members of Iran's various religious minorities such as: Zoroastreans, Jews, Christians and Baha'is.  Members of the latter, who  are  currently being harshly persecuted are, according to Nyrop (1978), the most obvious  24  examples of educated  middle  class individuals.  "In evaluating the position of women  in Iran, difficulty arose in the diversity found between urban and rural areas, elite and  lower class, educated  denominations," said Beck  and illiterate individuals . . . and among various religious (1974).  Since 1932 when the Oriental Feminine Congress was held in Tehran until the outbreak  of the Islamic revolution, steady changes had taken  position of women in Iran (Haeri, 1980; Nyrop, 1978).  place in the  In 1936 when the  University of Tehran was first erected, women were admitted  and some were sent  to Europe by the government to receive higher education (Haeri, 1980).  In the  same year the Unveiling Act was legislated to liberalize the dress code for women. In the 1960s women were granted  voting rights.  the right to divorce (one denied to them through  Also laws providing women with Islam) were legislated (Haeri,  r  1980). These social changes, along with greater exposure to, and contact with, the western world consciousness  and the expansion  of higher education, increased the level of  and awareness of the general population, especially that of the middle  class women.  This, in turn, led to some equality and higher levels of aspiration  for women in Iran.  Since the 1960s and until the outbreak  many women had entered the work force.  of the Revolution,  By 1972, 1.4 million women were  working in different branches of industry, medicine, education, agriculture, etc.  In  the same year 8% of the general population of physicians in Iran was female (Nyrop, 1978).  According to Jalali (1982), by the year  university students in Iran were women. marriages  1979, about 4 0 % of all  Moreover, polygamy and arranged  among this group of modern middle  class families, to which all my  co-researchers belong, were virtually non-existent (Nyrop, 1978). women has become permissable  Dating for young  and acceptable, however, with definite limitations.  Nevertheless, male domination,  sex-role stereotyping, dependent behaviour on  the part of women, non-individualism and various other Persian values and characteristics still remain, to some degree, untouched by class, level of education,  25  and/or religious denomination. and  Though emancipated in some areas, such  educational pursuits, choice of marriage  as: career  partners, and dress code, the modern  Iranian woman still enjoys less autonomy, independence and freedom when compared with her male counterpart (Farhoodymeher, 1975; Haeri, 1980; Jalali, 1982; Madanipour, 1978; Mahdi, 1981).  Rationale for the Use of an Existential-phenomenological Approach  In  order to explore the experience of immigration  for Iranian women, a  qualitative approach seemed most suitable for capturing the richness and potency of the women's own descriptions of their experiences.  Among  qualitative  approaches,  the existential-phenomenological approach is distinguished by its rigour in systematically elucidating the meaning of a given experience from the person  who experiences.  the viewpoint of  In particular, it focuses upon individual experience as  lived in concrete situations. Existential-phenomenology  is the result of a blending of the two disciplines of  existentialism and phenomenology.  While  existentialism "seeks to understand the  human condition as it manifests itself in our concrete, lived situation," phenomenology (founded by Edmond Husserl, 1859-1938) "is a method which allows us to contact phenomena as we actually live them" (Valle & Existential-phenomenology  revealed through (Valle &  1978, pp. 6-7).  thus becomes existential-phenomenological psychology, when  applied to human psychological phenomena. explicate the essence,  King,  structure,  or form of human experience and human behavior as  essentially descriptive  King, 1978, p.  This psychological discipline "seeks to  techniques including disciplined reflection"  7).  Existential-phenomenology not viewed as objects in nature.  is based  on the essential concept that "people are  Rather, the existential-phenomenological psychologist  speaks of the total, indissoluble unity or interrelationship of the individual and his or  her world" (Valle &  King, 1978, p. 7).  Thus, the individual and his or her  26  world  "co-constitute"  each other.  one  another and  are seen as having no existence apart from  In fact, "in existential-phenomenological thought  that being is actually  'being-in-the-world'" (Valle &  King, 1978,  This world, which has no existence apart from and  "is the world as given in direct and  the life-world"  (Valle &  King, 1978,  immediate  pp. 9-10).  existence always implies p. 8).  the individual who  experience" is the Lebenswelt  "The  Lebenswelt  point . . . for the existential-phenomenological psychologist.  Rejecting the dualistic conception of the relationship  or  is the starting  The  life-world is the  foundation upon which existential phenomenology is built" (Valle & p. 10).  lives it  King,  1978,  of the individual  the world, existential-phenomenological also rejects the notion of causality  and  and views  the life-world as having a prereflective nature which gives birth to reflective awareness. predicting  Hence, the practices are also rejected  technique used to explicate  of hypothesis formation, testing, controlling, and  in this model and the essence  of any  disciplined reflection is the  descriptive  given immediate experience in a  Lebenswelt. "Objectivity,"  in an existential-phenomenological research context, "requires  to recognize and  affirm both my  Colaizzi (Valle &  King, 1978,  own  experience and  p. 52).  The  special presence" to the phenomenon and situation is essential (Giorgi, 1970).  the experience of others" said  researcher in this context is to have "a  his or her full engagement in the research  Being well aware of the fact that  experience as an immigrant woman was  me  a significant dimension  of my  my  own  presence to  the phenomenon, I have, in the previous chapter, described an initial portrait in an attempt  to make explicit my  own  assumptions and  pre-dispositions.  Moreover, in  this context, according to Colaizzi, "objectivity is fidelity to phenomena . . . respectful p. 52).  listening to what the phenomenon speaks of itself Hence, by engaging  descriptions  (Valle &  myself in a respectful listening to my  King,  1978,  co-researchers'  of their experiences I will have maintained, as much as possible,  objectivity of the data collected in this study.  it is a  the  27  - A  close look at the existential-phenomenological model reveals a differential  set of philosophical assumptions (as compared to the positivistic approach to psychological, research) with regard to its conception of the individual, the questions it asks and relationship  the methods it utilizes.  Such assumptions call for a different kind of  between the researcher and  is a dialogal one  involving  the subjects.  In this model the  cooperation in a non-manipulative  and  In this context the humanness of the individual under study and participation in the research is of primary participants (Valle &  in the study  King,  among equals. illuminate  1978)  saw  concern  and  are called "co-researchers" and  relationship  controlling context. his or her full  for this reason the not subjects.  Colaizzi  the dialogue as taking place in a situation of trust  In this context the co-researchers are allowed  existential dimensions of their lives and  experiences.  to describe and The  research design,  which is open-ended, allows the co-researchers to make the final closure with the meaning they bring into the situation (Giorgi, 1970).  28  C H A P T E R III: Methodology  Summary of Design  I interviewed four Iranian immigrant women.  In each interview my  co-researchers and I dialogued as equals in a relationship of trust.  My  role in the  interviews was to create and maintain an environment of trust in which to elicit each woman's story as fully and clearly as possible. story, and asked  I actively listened to her  questions to make clarifications along the way.  transcribed each story.  I analyzed the transcripts (or protocols) for themes.  then wrote a description of the experience of immigration based I returned to my  I recorded and  on these themes.  co-researchers to verify the themes and the description.  full participation in this step-by-step verification of the data, my  I  Through  co-researchers  helped me obtain a description that reflected their experience as clearly and accurately as possible.  All of their suggested  changes and additions have been  incorporated into the final description.  Selection of Co-Researchers  According to Colaizzi (1978, p. 58) "experience with the investigated topic and  articulateness suffice as criteria."  The first criterion, therefore, was that the  women had had the experience of immigration home.  In order to ensure  process of adjustment  and had felt adjusted to their new  that the participants in this study had completed the  to a new culture, only women were interviewed who had  arrived in Canada no fewer than three years prior to the time of the first interview, who were single women (based on the observation and assumption  that  married Iranian immigrant women need more time to adjust), and who reported that they felt adjusted both at the time of the initial contact and at the beginning of each of the main interviews. 0  As for the criterion of articulateness, all of the  29  four co-researchers  spoke fluent conversational English and had the ability to  express themselves clearly and relate their stories articulately.  For the purpose of  eliminating any chances of miscommunication, each co-researcher  was given the  option of switching to Persian at any point throughout the interview. occasions  On a few  three of the women used Persian words to clarify their statements.  These words were immediately translated into English and accepted as the appropriate I found my  by those women  substitutes to be used in the protocols. co-researchers  about the topic of research.  by personally contacting friends and acquaintances  Originally eight women were contacted  telephone or personal meetings.  either by  Among the eight, all of whom expressed their  interest in participating in the study, five were selected on the basis of the criteria discussed  above.  her, I decided  One was later omitted  from the study.  that she did not meet the first criterion.  After having  interviewed  Among the four women  selected, two I knew quite well, one was an acquaintance and one was introduced to me through a mutual friend. become my  Interestingly enough, the latter two have now  friends as a result of the nature of the study and the trust established  between us throughout its course.  Demographic  The  only demographic information  length of residence and  required of the co-researchers  was: a)  in Canada (no less than three years), b) marital status (single),  c) age (no younger than  education  Information  18).  Based on the co-researchers' families' status,  level and level of affluence in Iran, all of the four women must be  classified in the modernized upper middle/middle class category stratification in Iran in Chapter II).  (see section on class  30  Table I: Co-researcher  Demographic Information  (at time  of main interview)  Co-researcher Initials  Age  Length of Residence in Canada  1  CR,  23  5  Student  2  CR  2  26  3  Student  3  CR  3  21  3  Student  4  CR4  30  8  Fashion Shop Manager  Occupation  Existential-phenomenological Approach  Main  Interview  The study  co-researchers were first contacted by telephone  was fully explained to them.  After having agreed  or in person  and the  to participate in the  research, each co-researcher received a letter of introduction (Appendix B). Appointments for interviews were then made.  Consent forms were signed by each  co-researcher (Appendix B). I had three interviews with each co-researcher. was spread over a period of one-and-a-half two  years.  The first set of interviews  Each interview lasted between  and a half and three and a half hours, during which the co-researcher  described the story of her experience as an immigrant woman in Canada. interviews were all audio-taped The  U.B.C.  and transcribed (as protocols).  interviews were conducted  previously booked office spaces  The  in complete confidentiality in my  home or in  in the Department of Counselling Psychology at  Confidentiality was further maintained  by using initials of co-researchers'  31  names and they had  other names mentioned in the interview.  been transcribed and  that they were free to relate to  only that which they felt comfortable disclosing.  me  Since the kind of trust which is  to full participation of the co-researchers in the process already existed or  created and  maintained  between us, the interviews flowed very smoothly.  During the interviews I found that my  co-researchers were very relaxed and  of their experience with much openness and The  The  being assured that they were, °in fact, the  experts on the phenomenon of interest and  was  tapes were erased after  listened to a sufficient number of times.  co-researchers were also put at ease by  conducive  The  spoke  genuineness.  interviews were basically unstructured.  time) if they felt adjusted/settled in Canada.  I began by  asking (one more  Upon receiving an affirmative answer  (and some clarifying explanations about their adjustment) I continued by describing the purpose of the study. have had  I then answered any  regarding the research procedure  and  questions that the women  methodology.  may  I continued by  asking  each co-researcher: What is the story of your life in Canada? Give the whole story, from the very beginning until the time you felt relatively settled and at home. What was it like when you left Iran? What has it been like since you've come to Canada? What has your experience been all this time? What is it like now? I also asked  each co-researcher to relate to me  would help me  understand  I then became an  any  specific events or details which  the meaning of her experience. active listener.  interview and, when necessary, probed  I tried to be fully present in the  and  reflected on her statements.  If the  interview questions were not answered within the co-researcher's description, I asked the following questions in a form 1.  appropriate to the individual:  What kind of experience helped you  feel settled?  What facilitated the  process? 2.  What kind of experiences slowed  down the process of adjustment?  3.  Did you  ever feel lost/confused?  When?  4.  Did you  ever hit a point where you  How?  felt a vast emptiness inside?  When  32  did  that happen?  5.  Did you yearn  for Iran?  Do you still?  6.  Did you feel guilty for leaving Iran?  7.  Compare yourself now with when you were in Iran.  Do you still? Have you changed?  How have you changed? 8.  What is the meaning of this experience for you?  It should be noted that rather than asking the above questions in a potentially leading manner, the women were asked experiences. or  directly whether the questions fit their  In other words, the co-researchers were allowed the freedom to reject  confirm any of the questions.  Analysis of Protocols  The  analysis of the protocols was conducted  described by Colaizzi (1978, pp. 59-62). transcribed as protocols. before it was erased.  according to the procedure  The audio-taped  interviews were  Each taped interview was then listened to at least twice  Each protocol was read and re-read until I acquired a  feeling for it and began to understand  the essence of the experience as related to  me by each woman. From each protocol, key statements of immigration  that pertained directly to the experience  and settlement in Canada were extracted and underlined.  repetition of the same or similar statements the used statements for  each protocol).  beginning, a middle arranged  While  in several protocols were eliminated,  were written in individually colour-coded index cards (one colour Since the co-researchers had been asked  to tell a story with a  and an end, the cards containing significant statements  in three groups labeled "beginning," "middle,"  were  and "end."  Using the process of "creative insight" as described by Colaizzi (1978, p. 59), meanings were formulated from  each significant statement  in the protocols.  This was done by making explicit what was implied in each statement  through  33  moving beyond the statement  to illuminate its meaning while remaining, at all  times, true to the original statement statement  was  (Colaizzi, 1978).  clear and explicit, allowing me  to formulate meaning units.  In some cases the original  to use the co-researcher's own  words  For example, co-researcher 4 said: " . . . I questioned  myself . . . . is there anything I can do? . . . in a sense I felt incapable . . . . I didn't have any self-confidence at all, or self-worth."  In this  statement  co-researcher 4 is describing the meaning unit that was labelled "Loss of Self-worth."  However, co-researcher 2's statement: ". . . and at one point I felt  that it's okay, having sex is joy, especially if you are attracted to each other, so what is wrong here?" is an example of a statement  whose "contextual and  horizontal meanings are given with the protocols but are not in i t " (Colaizzi, 1978, p. 59).  In this case the researcher, according to Colaizzi (1978, p. 59) "must go  beyond what is given in the original data and at the same time, stay with it." This statement,thusly analyzed, was one's known values."  then labeled with the meaning "Confusion  over  This meaning unit was further refined and labeled as the  theme "Disorientation to Living." When all the key statements statements  by different co-researchers which seemed to have similar meanings were  grouped together.  Once this was  protocols were formulated. engaging to ensure  were analyzed in the above manner, those  done, themes which were common across all  The formulation of the themes was  a lengthy and  process and took many hours of constantly living and being with the data that the co-researchers' experiences had been accurately and fully  represented in the themes. After formulating the themes I returned to the original protocols to ensure that I had captured all that had been related in the themes and that I had not included anything in the themes that was not implied in the original protocol. describing a theme I tried to include individual variations. been organized in an approximately  In  After the themes had  sequential manner, they were integrated into a  narrative description of the experience of immigration  for Iranian women.  This  34  description attempts to reflect as fully and experience, as told by  accurately as possible the essence  of the  the co-researchers.  Validation Interview  I then returned to my descriptions) and  co-researchers twice with the themes (and their  the exhaustive description for validation of the results.  set of interviews were audio-taped, but not transcribed. interviews lasted between one  and  two  was  hours.  the description prior to the interviews.  discussed individually and  of any  comments and  notes and  second  Each of the four  All the co-researchers were given the chance to review themes and  The  and  reflect upon the  In the interview each theme  while the interview was  being taped.  suggestions made by each co-researcher.  I took  notes  After reviewing  listening to the tapes, I then incorporated all the changes suggested  the co-researchers into the final results of the study. changes, I returned to my  co-researchers one  my by  After incorporating the  more time by  telephone  to validate  the final results. As extremely  the last note in this chapter, I find it necessary encouraged by  co-researchers as we together.  watching  and  dialogued and  listening to the excitement  went through  the themes and  All of the women felt that their experiences had  accurately portrayed in the material presented was  contained therein.  As  was  to mention that I felt  to them and  expressed  by  the description  been fully  and  validated almost  all that  mentioned above, some minor clarifying changes  were later incorporated in the final results.  my  35  C H A P T E R IV: Results  Formulation of Themes  Thirty-two themes were formulated from  the co-researchers' stories.  These  themes, which are significant aspects of the experience of immigration, were common to all the co-researchers in the study but varied for each co-researcher in degree and scope. way  Each theme focuses on a part of the whole experience in a  that includes any individual variations. Originally, ninety meaning units were extracted from  the original protocols.  Upon further reflection, meaning units that reflected the same broader were melded together into the same theme.  meaning  For example, prior to losing their  self-esteem (which is a theme more explicitly conveyed in the protocols), the women had  had a number of varied experiences which had been individually labelled as:  feeling misunderstood,  feeling rejected, feeling a failure, etc.  Then, once again, by  moving beyond these already-labeled meaning units, they were grouped together as the theme: "Invalidation of Self." thirty-one themes were formulated.  Through this lengthy and engaging After dialoguing, for the second  process, time, with  my  co-researchers and upon consulting my notes and tapes of the validation interviews, I realized that the theme: "Sense of Purpose/Meaning in the Experience" can be divided into two separate but consequent themes of: "Seeing Experience a Greater Plan" and "Sense of Uniqueness of Experience."  as Part of  This brought  the final  number of themes to thirty-two. Another example of how the validation interviews sharpened  the final results  is that in the original description of the theme: "Opening to New Possibilities/Establishing New Dreams," I had portrayed all the women as "ready and  excited to meet the challenges of the future."  A l l but one of the  co-researchers ( C R ) validated this description and actually underlined the word 3  "excited" saying that they are now looking forward  to meeting new challenges.  36  CR ,  however, stated that she feels ready, armed and open to meet her future  3  challenges, but does not look forward to them.  This was, therefore, incorporated in  the description of the individual theme as well as in the narrative description of the experience.  A l l the final results were validated in the third set of short  interviews. Since the original statements are both the source of the themes and a means to touch the richness of the co-researchers' experiences,  I have followed the  listing of theme names with a second listing which includes the descriptions and some of the statements made by each co-researcher derived.  from which the themes were  These statements are drawn from different sections of the protocols.  I  have tried, as much as possible, to include only one statement from each co-researcher  under each theme.  different aspect and  of the same theme, I felt reluctant to eliminate some statements  have included  co-researcher.  However, since each statement brings to life a  A  (in some instances) more than one statement for each few of the statements listed under certain themes were made  during the validation interviews  to further clarify and expand on the original  description. The  reader may  notice that certain significant statements contain in them a  theme(s) other than the one that particular statement was chosen to represent. should  It  be noted that, due to the nature of the experience and the flow of each  description, this overlap The  is natural.  sequence of the themes as listed and integrated into the narrative  description gives the experience of immigration a linear appearance. narrative description and the general  While the  sequence of the themes reflect the narrative  nature of the experience which has a beginning, a middle and an end; the order of individual themes can vary  for each protocol.  37  Themes  1.  Sense of leaving behind all that seemed precious.  2.  Sense of enforced separation or dislodgement.  3.  Apprehension  4.  Yearning to settle down and to find stability.  5..  Sense of Insecurity/Instability.  6.  Chronic Sense of Missing Home.  7.  Anger and Resentment at Being Forced from  8.  Resentment and Anger at Losses in the Homeland.  9.  Sense of Loyalty to the Homeland.  10.  Search  11.  Sense of Estrangement.  12.  Felt Superficiality of Connections.  13.  Feeling Different and Out of Place.  14.  Yearning for a Deeper Connection.  15.  Sense of Chronic Conflict with Parents.  16.  Invalidation of Self/Identity.  17.  Loss of Self Esteem/Worth.  18.  Disorientation to Living.  19.  Sense of Struggle.  20.  Reviewing  21.  Realistically Appraising the Homeland as it is.  22.  Recognizing Personal Potency/Power.  23.  Validation of Self.  24.  Sense of Acceptance.  25.  Exercising One's Personal Power (Acting on One's Personal Power).  26.  Sense of Freedom.  27.  Sense of Having  of Unknown.  Homeland.  for Belonging.  One's Self.  Grown as a Person  Through the Experience.  38  28.  Opening to New  Possibilities/Establishing  New  29.  Seeing Experience as Part of a Greater Plan (Sense of Destiny).  30.  Sense  31.  Sense of Stability.  32.  Re-affirming One's Roots.  of Uniqueness/Richness of Experience.  Dreams.  39  Themes and  Significant Statements  1.  Sense of leaving behind all that seemed precious.  She  painfully realizes that she  that meant a lot to her. precious  would have (has had)  She  to break away from  anticipates the loss of everything  which includes(ed) people who  loved her  and  happiness, good memories/times, dreams, places she  cared  things  that seemed  for her, security,  loved, a home, a part of her, a  country, etc.  CR,:  ...  When you  losing. And  CR : 2  There was  you  I had  are leaving something, there is something that you something, you  something and  a boyfriend whom I wanted to marry  at his picture and  not in Iran, that I'm  decided  to tear it and  I understood that: "Here I am! doing.  I'm  here.  I'm  . . . and  are losing it.  throw it away.  I cannot go back!  trying to go  It is over!" . . . that was  moments that I cried.  I knew what I  I'm  was  then another  not going to see  the first time after so many  heart and  any  more.  But  I cried so hard, so badly  him  hard  it  know,  was  ....  And  the first time I just found deep inside that the most precious thing  that I had  was  gone and  at that point, you  know, I wasn't thinking of  country as much as I was  thinking of him.  related.  Leaving him  leaving the country and  him  so on.  away was  at that point  When I threw his picture in the garbage, you  something I knew with my  and  night I looked  And  to another country, and  those little pieces of picture didn't look like him  that was  the first time that I  in Turkey, one  another until I establish myself somewhere.  again.  you  know that it is hard to get it back.  really realized that I'm  and  had  are  was  That was  the first time.  a symbol of breaking  Yes,  they were in a sense leaving Iran was  In a way,  away from my  my  leaving "  throwing his picture  country.  That was  the  40  first time.  CR :  . . . Iran was my  3  home, but when I left Iran, I just knew that I would  never, it would take me as a lot of Iranians  are.  a long time to go back.  I wasn't that optimistic  I just knew it would probably take another ten  years that I would be able to go back to live there, actually.  CR :  . . . I had a feeling that I would probably not be able to go back and it  4  was a bit hard.  It's a hard feeling to think about, that you will not,  you're leaving the country that you've been born in and you're, you have memories there, everything-families, friends.  You have to really break up  with that, with all your memories and everything, and it was kind of hard.  It [leaving] was like leaving a part of you ... the feeling was like you are one  person but you had to divide yourself between two, and one of you had  to stay in Iran, and the other  had to come out.  And I don't know, it was  hard.  2.  Sense of enforced separation/dislodgement.  She  feels forced/compelled to leave Iran.  This force may be perceived  as external,  i.e., parents want her to leave or her life is endangered, or may come from within herself, telling her to leave  CR,:  First they [parents] asked me But  2  if I wanted to go.  So I said "no, I don't!"  then it got serious and I thought more about it and then I really didn't  want to go.  CR :  since she no longer has a place in her homeland.  And I thought: "No!  I really don't want to leave here!"  So I was living there for two years after the revolution.  You had to wear  a veil and so on . . . and then from the south [where the Gulf war broke  41  out] we moved to Karaj [a city near Tehran] and that was the hardest part in the last seven, eight years! financially,  We'd lost everything, it was very hard  we didn't have a house to live in, we had relatives,  know, when you're going through hard everybody was under pressure. And  but, you  times, everybody was tense,  And then I was in university in the south.  you know, as a Baha'i they simply said I couldn't go back to school  and it was really  hard for me  going so well in my  to believe that!  life up to that point.  Just the way I wanted couldn't feel adjusted.  it.  Because everything was  Everything was just perfect!  So although I was in my  own country, I  And for one year after the war we  then things got harder and harder for Baha'is specifically  lived there and  and for women  and in general.  CR : 3  My  biggest question was: "How  person with my can't live here.  would I survive in this society?"  As a  kind of ideology I'd say: "how can you live here?" You've  You  either got to accept some of these kinds of  ideologies, or you won't be able to survive here.  And . . . my  biggest fear  was that I knew that I couldn't survive if I had stayed there.  All  CR : a  of a sudden, Iran felt like a strange place to me!  . . . it was hard, but I wanted  to do it . . . I wanted  things. . . . I didn't want to become like my she was  mother  to experience other  . . . which was like,  16 years old, or 17 years old and she was, and they were in a  family which the father was the head, and then she got married and her husband was the head, and this wasn't me.  I couldn't, I just wanted, in  between, to have some other experience that I would like to see, would like to do, would like to find out, would like to study . . . like I wanted  to see  some other life, some other experience, some other things to learn, things to  42  do, things to see. . . . It [separation] was hard, but I was looking forward to it.  Apprehension of Unknown.  3.  What lies ahead is a big questionmark in the dark. way of life puzzles her and scares even after separation  CR,: It was my  first  her.  The unknown of a different  The fear may be present  before, at and  from Iran.  time on my  own like that.  I didn't know what the outside  world was like . . . so it was kind of scary.  CR : 2  Something happened, I didn't want it, because I didn't know what it was, I didn't know what was going on, but I'm glad that it happened now.  CR : 3  . . . whenever I think about immigration . . . I always think of this family which is tired and sort of fatigued and things like that, and they have all these suitcases and big boxes and they're  carrying them to the  airport . . . that's the image that comes to my  mind, and just, like I said,  a chest-burn, just because whenever I'm upset I get that, so I always relate to the experience, it's like entering a cave, but you don't know what's in there. . . . And I always remember the fear . . .  CR : 4  . . . to be exact, it was, I could see a ladder. . . . I could see that I am on  the step, see myself that I come up maybe five steps, and to go higher,  like I couldn't move.  I was there, I couldn't go back.  I saw myself on the first step couldn't  I turned  back and  and I didn't want to go back, and yet I  go higher, because I was stuck, I didn't know, I was confused.  didn't know, I really  was stuck  didn't know what's up there.  there. . . . I was frightened [because] I  I  43  4.  Yearning to settle down and to find stability.  Tired of uprooting, she wants to settle down, to find a home where  she can feel  stable and secure.  CR,:  And  for you when you are young and you go to another country and you  are not settled, moving from one place to another, it's a hassle! . . . I couldn't stand it any more . . . [and] I wished, I dreamed have been nice if I could have my be in my  own  parents here.  We'd  have a house.  house to be able to do what I wanted to.  settled. . . . You  know, I wanted to settle down!  that it would  I was  I'd  To be more tired of moving  from place to place.  Cr : 2  . . . immigration-wise we  could have stayed in Spain, but education-wise and  the kinds of things that were happening were exactly like before the revolution in Iran, politically. . . . And I thought, "I don't want this!"  It  is much safer in Canada and much more stable and once was  I  enough!  didn't want to have to go through the whole experience of uprooting again!  . . . our trip seemed Canada] . . .  I had no feelings at all!  other airplanes.  CR : 3  so endless that I remember [when I arrived in  I wanted to be on the ground and walk!  I want to make a stable home somewhere and I want it to be Vancouver, so I can come and go whenever  CR : 4  I just didn't want to get into any  I want.  . . . I really don't think I would want to go back [to Iran]. . . . It's as if . . . going through all the problems that you had again and I don't think I can do it any more.  Once was  enough!  44 Sense of Insecurity/Instability.  •5.  ,  Upon coming to Canada she realizes that she is on her own.  The shelter and the  protection of family, the security of being in one's country and among one's people, the stability of one's way  of life and the certainty of one's future disappear.  She  finds herself vulnerable and in need of help and shelter from others.  CR,:  I always enjoyed  my  life in Iran . . . you see, I never  thought  future, what's going to happen next, what will the future be. "this is life, enjoying yourself!"  So that really bothered  about the  I thought,  me!  I said: "I have to depend on somebody, there has to be always someone to take care of me!"  CR : 2  [Before the revolution] it was Canada.  a good and fun experience. . . . It's not like  Kids don't usually work.  Parents could and did support  them.  Even after I went to university, I wanted to find a job and the reaction of my  parents in Iran was  totally different from  here. . . . They said: "But why the money!" me  what I got from  do you want to work?!  We  them will give you  They wanted to give us a very comfortable life, they wanted  to have fun and study well. . . . [and] I had a great time!  Here,' you not only have to take care of yourself, you have to also take care of others, like your parents.  CR : 3  You just want  It's  someone to take your hand and show you the steps.  not like Iran, especially when as Iranians we  giving us that sense  of security.  are used  to other people  45  CR„:  Oh, I felt safer [in Iran], I felt more safe. . . . It maybe sounds funny, but when I was in Iran, when I was in my  own country, when you go to  sleep and sleep, you have a perfect sleep, because you are safe.  I don't  know how to explain it, but I didn't have to think about my  future . . . I  had  roots were  my  there.  father to look after me, I had my  family there, my  I was in a place that everybody accepted me  as I am, and I  accepted them, not totally with me, but anyway, I accepted them  as much  as I could. . . . I felt at home, I was safe, I, was completely safe, nobody could hurt me, nobody could touch me, nobody could do things wrong to me, I was like a, I could say like a queen.  I had protection, I had everybody  looking after me, thinking about me, protecting me, feeling for me, caring for me, but here, I didn't have that feeling.  It's  as if when I was in my  country I was in a shell . . . and this shell  was made of gold. . . . And I was protected  in that, and I wanted to  come out of it. . . . And when I came here . . . it's exactly  like a bird,  when you want to come out of your shell, you try it, you break it, you come and your head is a little bit higher, but it's as if, a wind, or . . . something happens and you have to go underneath  4.  Chronic Sense of Missing Home.  She  remembers those precious  behind and misses them. pleasant  again.  things, places, people, feelings and moments she left  This theme is characterized by having vivid and often  visions, dreams, fantasies and thoughts of Iran.  Although much  stronger  in the beginning the feeling of homesickness resumes until this day and is often triggered by certain reminders such as a poem, a smell, a view, and so on.  CR : 1  Really, even after about eight months, I had letters, I thought: "I wish I could be there right now!  I wish I could be with them, as happy as I  46  used to be. I made my  I wish I could go to the same places with them!" own friends here, I told them  Even when  of how I wished to go back and  how I wanted to go back!  And  I had lots of fantasies about going back.  what I would do, where  CR : 2  I had been fantasizing about  I would go and about seeing my  friends.  [I dreamed] a lot about Iran when I first came. . . , I'll tell you one thing, it's not a dream, but that's what closed my  happened in Spain. . . . One day I  eyes, I wasn't asleep, but I was in Iran, and I knew that I  wasn't, I knew that I was in Spain, but I wasn't able to take myself out of  that situation.  to  go to university.  So here I was, I was in my  city, I was taking the bus  I don't know how long it took, but anyway.  I  remember every detail in the road, in the city, every detail in my room, every detail of my  friends, everything.  I wasn't sleeping, I wanted to open my so  dormitory  And I was suffering, Afsaneh,  eyes, but at the same time it was  tangible, I mean, I was actually in Iran and I didn't want to open  eyes.  I used to think "What's wrong with it?  [I was suffering because] it wasn't true. that it wasn't even a dream  my  You ride in Iran? . . . .  I knew I wasn't in Iran, I knew  . . . and I wasn't dreaming and I wasn't  daydreaming . . . I wasn't even doing that. in Iran so badly and it was so amazing.  I guess I just wanted to be  I was able to remember every  detail, every house on the block, all the names, all the places, all the streets and how long it takes to where I used to stay and all these things.  Oh, sure [I miss Iran], but on occasion . . . when I find a good book, a good poem, you know, everything comes back, of course, I loved it!  CR : 3  . . . you know Vancouver is like the north of Iran.  Sometimes  when I  47  drive through Stanley Park  and the smell, it's, once it happened to me the  first time, I was driving through Stanley Park and there was this part that reminds me  of Pahlavi Street, and all of a sudden  I just felt the smell and  it was amazing, because I felt that, remember that there were birds in the afternoon? two  And just, I could smell the street, I could hear it and for like  or three seconds I could see it, just sort of like a flash, like that!  was fantastic. . . . I really wanted to go back.  It  That night I said: "God, I  wish I was there!"  CR :  I missed the happiness . . . I missed the safeness, I missed the smell even,  4  I missed everything, whatever  you can think of, I missed.  I missed the  feeling, I missed the sun, I missed the feeling of being in the sun and sometimes, it's unreal, but sometimes I missed the people, whatever don't know how to say it, I missed that badness that--do you know what I mean?  of the people.  bad, I  I missed  Like, it was amazing, you don't like  something, but yet again, I missed it.  7.  Anger and Resentment at Being Forced from Homeland.  She  feels "locked out" of her loved and much missed country.  unfairness of this forced situation and is chronically angered  She feels the  and resentful about it.  Although stronger in the beginning, her resentment resumes to date.  CR,:  And I felt like just wanting to be alone, at that time when I thought "I cannot go back," I felt like being alone somewhere and screaming. know what I mean?  Like as if you were in jail and you want to get out  of there, but you can't.  They won't let you.  They  say: "Next year!"  And. you want to tear up everything and get away from it! nothing you can do. scream!  You  You cannot come out of there.  You want to say: "Please let me  go!  But there's  So you want to  Let me  free!"  And that's  48  how I felt.  ...  it's by force!  which forces me  My  being here is because of the situation in Iran  to be here. . . . Right now I'm not suffering.  more settled, so it is easier. was mad!  Oh yeah!  never come!  2  You  could ask your mom  this and that book.  But now I  Actually I can say that I'm happy that I had Now  I don't resent it that much.  I guess it goes back to why you can't go back. to come to Canada to study.  I  I used to say to myself: "I wish I'd  I wish I didn't have to go through all this!"  to go through this experience.  CR :  I feel  But in the beginning, I resented it badly.  I was mad!  don't feel angry any more.  Now  Because  I always  wanted  But you could always go back on holidays.  to send you a Persian tape, you could ask for  You know, the situation is different.  You're locked out  of your country not by your own choice.  CR : 3  . . . I guess it does bother me  that I might never be able to go back  there and live there. . . . [it's] frustrating . . . I guess it's like, I don't want to use the word "prison," I guess it's just so you know you're in a room, and if you open the door there's just space down there, you just can't step out and stay there, but you want to go out there because, okay, here's . . . there's something out there in the sky, and you want to go get it and you just know you can't go because there's space in between, there's no way you can get out of that door and go get it.  CR : a  . . . I can say I've made Canada my  country.  But sometimes I think  about it; "wouldn't it be nice to go back, to have a home, where you were brought up, where you were born, where your memories are, where your childhood is."  It would  have been a nice thing to go back and visit once  49  in can  a while, it's unfair. do anything!  I still think that way  . . . [and] I don't think I  It's unfair, but it's something that is there, we can't  change it, it's the reality . . . ?[and] you feel frustrated.  8.  Resentment and Anger at Losses in the Homeland.  She  feels angry about the changes Iran has undergone and about all the "good"  things that they  CR!:  have lost as a nation, maybe never to be replaced.  You see I was there during the revolution.  When I see what a loss it  was to go through all what happened throughout the revolution, it makes me mad!  To fight for nothing!  To lose lives and people for nothing! It's  awful!  I still feel angry.  Even more angry. . . . The things that we used to  have and we don't have any more.  If I go back, they won't be there.  just have a view of them . . . and they and  CR : 2  I  won't be replaced and that's sad  painful.  . . . what hurts is that, the hard  part is that they  are destroying  everything that I love in that country, and I could give you one example. When we were leaving Iran we went to Tabriz [a city in the north] and one  mullah was trying hard  that city.  And he did, he tried three times, he put bombs and dynamite  everywhere to destroy any  to destroy one of the historical monuments in  that beautiful, whatever, I mean, we cannot have that  more, he was trying to destroy it just to have a piece of land to say  prayers on Friday mornings, which he could find that piece of land anywhere.  And nobody was able to, everybody was upset, but nobody was  able to stop this guy, and to me, from the moment  I heard it, to now, I  cannot understand, you know, this is our culture, this is our history, some  50  guy  who  doesn't feel like being a Persian, someone who  values . . . has Nobody even.  the power to do such  Nobody!  Everybody's crying, you  I talked with my  the Persian arts and I know you  3  know, but nobody You  says  know, and  they are all fascinated by  . . . they never turn to me  have this," they always turn to me  and  and  say,  I was  can  hear that a bunch of crazy people,  see how  it can hurt when you  having any  reason, are doing so.  . . . whenever I hear about the war would really hurt me  and  the war  always just let it go along. really upset me,  And  ...  there, I was  And  there . . . and  you  it is a loss, for sure.  I know that it's something that  in Iran is one  of the things that I  it really does hurt me.  because, as I said, I was  "Oh,  say, "isn't that a pity  they're destroying everything." . . .  without  CR :  crafts and  teachers and  no  nobody says "don't."  he can get that piece of land."  "why?," nobody says "hey, that hurts! . . .  a thing and  obviously has  ...  It does  in Iran three years after the  revolution and  I've seen a lot and  bothered  Because I really got, I got into trouble a couple of times  me.  it just, when I was  with the revolutionary committees and  I know how  there it really  frustrating it could get,  that these people are so unrealistic, I mean, they're so stupid, irrational people!  CR : a  You  feel angry because you  precious and angry.  feel as if you  somebody's stealing it and  You're saying, "Why?  own  something very, very  ruining it.  This was  mine, and  And  you  you  see that they're misusing it, it makes you  In that sense, you  somebody is stealing it."  wish, okay, if somebody's stealing it, take care of it. angry.  frustrated, it makes you  want to do  can't do  can't do anything at all.  anything.  You  feel  It makes  something about it and  you  But  when  you know  you  51  9.  Sense of Loyalty to the Homeland.  She  feels strong ties with Iran and experiences  Knowing that there was (is) nothing situation, except for maybe being  a strong sense of duty towards it.  she could have done (do) to change the  there and suffering with others, she feels  powerless.  CR,:  For three years  I would get so excited when talking about Iran.  didn't like it back there, I wanted to fight with That's your country!  You have to love it!  them.  Whoever  I would say: "No!  You have to go back!"  I was  full of energy for Iran! . . . I didn't like his [Khomeini's] government, but I still felt that that's Iran!  That's my  country!  I never felt guilty for leaving Iran, but I thought that, had I stayed, I maybe would have gotten used to the situation, like the others who did stay.  CR : 2  I will marry, I can even marry to a Persian, I would teach my  kids  Persian, I would talk to them, I would tell them stories, I would show the pictures, of course, but how can we replace that [the destroyed historical monument?? destroyed  Suppose that some day we go back to Iran-this guy has  that thing!  What would be your feeling to go and say, "yes, this  guy  came and he tried three times and they were not able to say 'no'"?  At  least your kids would ask you, I'm sure, that "what did you guys do?  Did  you try to stop him?" . . . And, of course, when I was in that city I  tried to imagine myself going  there and stopping him.  . . . you can see how it can hurt when you hear that a bunch of crazy people, without having And  any reason, are doing  it is a loss, for sure.  so [destroying our culture].  The kind of thing that you used to read in  52  history textbooks, like Chengiz "oh, too bad!  How  Khan destroyed everything, and  could they let him  do that!"  someone else is doing the same thing, so you more-what are you who  Cr : 3  doing?  And  now  in your  time,  cannot blame those people  Nothing, you just escaped  Iran, and  any  even those  are there do not do anything.  Of course, I might not like Iran right now  to go and  But  I'm  still very patriotic and  if someone wants to insult  my  country or my  The  it really bothers me  live there.  countrymen or anything like that. . . , I love Iran.  frustration just comes in because I just know there's no way  change it [the situation in Iran], there's just that sense that I go I know that I cannot make any me  most of all.  allow me  to and  changes.  I would say that if it was  could have, I could have gone there and  CR«:  you'd say,  right now,  no matter  that, either  a 100,  200  years ago, energy  much I spend my  nothing would come out of it . . . and  that makes me  I felt guilty in a sense that I felt my  country needs me  yes. own  would you  and  there,  I left day  ever go back?  or not, I feel it, and  would  energy  the  I couldn't say  I felt ashamed. . . . Whether they're going to accept me country is going to accept me  we  so frustrated.  it . . . like I would say that to myself, for example, if one country goes back to what it was,  way  That's what bothers  done all that my  how  that I can  that's  or not,  my  why,  probably, I can't think of going back, because I don't think they should accept me  . . . because I don't belong there.  I came out of the country in  the position that the country probably needed me. go back?  10.  Search  for Belonging.  I left it, now  how  can I  53  Missing home, feeling lonely and insecure, she looks for people with whom to belong.  She feels that she has but little choice than to be with other Iranians,  with whom she feels more at ease.  CR^:  I didn't want to be alone! around was  CR :  people.  When I was in Iran, all my life, I was always  I was always with somebody.  I always had friends.  It  hard for me to be alone!  . . . I guess it was sometime in April and I started dating this other  3  Persian guy.  And at that time it was sort of like, I think, I'm not really  happy about this, that when I went out with this . . . guy it was more out of desperateness than just liking him and going out with him.  CR :  . . . now I come to think about  a  in  the beginning]?  about  it, why did I do it [mingle with Persians  I don't know why, because as I say, come to think  it, I was afraid that I'm not accepted by Canadians  and yet I wasn't  like Persians. . . .  You  think they would understand  you because they are in the same  situation so you try to be there, with them, and be understood better, to be accepted better.  11. She  Sense of Estrangement. realizes fundamental  differences between herself (or her friends back home) and  most Iranians in this country.  Feeling shocked, angered, judged, hurt, used, and  cynical, she becomes disillusioned about her own people and feels estranged  from  them.  CR!:  When I was back home the people around  me were mostly family and good  54  friends.  It was a rather closed setting.  on around  you.  You know the people are nice, they are sensitive like you.  They don't take advantage people out of the blue. knew.  Like my  of you.  Then I went to college and met these  I thought them to be the same as the people I  friends, my  family, my  could trust them just as much. they won't take advantage them.  You are familiar with what goes  relatives [in Iran].  I thought I  I thought I could tell them everything, that  of you . . . that they like you the way  Like a child, I trusted everybody.  And I'm  you like  talking about  Iranians. . . . I thought of people I met there as nice and trustworthy and I just went right on and shared with them my whatever I felt. me, or hurting me  And then I realized that they were taking advantage of with what they said. . . . I thought this was  society and I should treat these people the way back home. different!  feelings . . . and told them  the same  I used to treat my  friends  I didn't know people [Iranians] could be, . . . they are so  I couldn't believe that people could be so different!  For Persians, I can divide them into two major groups. very rich . . . I cannot get along with them because  Some who are  I would be a different  person, anyway, even if I had the same amount of money, they haven't had the experiences that I had in the last few years.  They don't understand  me, you know, the kind of movies they want to watch, the kind of activities they want to have, the kind of conversations that they have, they're so, I won't say that I'm more mature, but they're just, they have a long way to go. . . . And you see, the other group, Persians, I mean, those who are not as rich, or probably are the same as I am,  they are very different.  Most of them, I'd say . . . they don't seem to be from this generation, they're from  two generations . . .  Here, I got to see Persians more objectively, in a new  light.  It gave me  a  55  new vision of what they can be like and actually, maybe that's one of the positive things that happened.  CR :  [In Vancouver] I learned  3  a lot of lessons in friendship . . . like not to trust  so many people, . . . and over here I learned say,  . . . that whatever people  . . . there's so many scrupulous ideas behind it that you can't even  start thinking about it, there's  so much.  So I learned that.  And I learned  that a lot of people who claim to be your friends and they might do a lot of things .for you, but on the other hand they might manipulate you and take advantage of you . . . [I am my  CR(,:  talking about Iranians] because most of  friends were Iranians.  Actually, come to think about it, now I feel I am, I have to struggle more with Persians  than with Canadians . . . what do they do?  Their  ideas,  their way of thinking, their way of acting sometimes, . . . talking about people, gossiping, saying  that the person did that which I think was bad  or . . . yeah, gossiping.  I can't say I don't like the people [Persians], I still can't say it.  I don't  agree with the people, let's put it this way . . . there is so much difference, there are so many things that, the way of their thinking, it's in a way that it boils me, like it really makes me  boil, angry, like, you know,  frustrated.  Felt Superficiality of Connections.  12. She  experiences solitude and unfulfilment when in the presence of others.  CR,:  . . . my and,  social life was mostly with Iranians.  I'd be going out with them  and up until last year I wasn't really, really enjoying  myself the way  56  I wanted to.  I went out, I had some laughs.  really what I wanted. . . . They were okay. with them really. from  CR : 2  me.  But deep inside, it wasn't There  But they were just not like me.  was nothing wrong They were different  They enjoyed things that I didn't enjoy.  People [Persians] who are with you must be able to understand are  what you  doing, otherwise it is a distraction, so you know, so you have to do  certain things . . . that other people are not familiar with and can't understand . . . so, you know, this has created two different worlds.  CR : 3  And I was happy, like when I went out and things like that, I was happy, I went out . . . with this guy I was dating and this girl . . . the Persian one  . . , well we used to talk a lot, like laugh and, you know, things like  that, but I never felt that I achieved anything from people . . . either exchanging  going out with these  knowledge, . . . with these people nothing like  that ever happened and I never felt achieving something  . . . [with them, it  was] just laugh. . . . I can't say it was a kind of laughter that was really deep down inside, it was just, I guess, like a hysterical laughter from being so tense and so frustrated-that kind of laughter, that kind of happiness.  CR : 4  Did I feel lonely?  Yeah, within me, yes.  that nobody was around lonely because  me.  I wasn't lonely in the sense  There were people around  there were not many people like me  felt lonely. . . . There  me, but I was  around, in that sense I  weren't enough people who could understand  me [and  that includes Persians].  13.  Feeling Different and Out of Place.  Contact with Canadians  unravels, before her eyes, the magnitude of differences  between herself and "them."  She feels shocked, very different, judgemental and  57  completely out of place-as if she will never  CR^  I felt out of place! I was out of place.  belong.  In that school, not outside school.  In the school I felt  Even after I started to know some of them, still I  felt, "I don't belong with them because they are different." completely different than me. were different.  They were  They were thinking differently.  Their behaviour was different.  We  Their ideas  were completely  different.  CR : 2  I remember once we had this meeting and one of the Canadian Baha'is laid down right there in the middle of the living room while everybody else was sitting in chairs and he just felt tired and laid down. my  eyes off him!  doing?!  He is such  Baha'i, you know.  I was so shocked.  that!  I found  God!"  CR : 3  God!  What on earth is he  a gentleman, he's so knowledgeable, he's so respected, a I couldn't find any answers to that.  years ago. . . . It was harder for my come back from  My  Ah, I couldn't keep  sister and brother.  That  was three  They would  school and say: "They [kids at school] did this, they did this in the corridor!"  You know, and I would say, "my  They were really strange. ' I couldn't accept them.  My!  I had nothing in common with them [Canadians] at all!  find anything to talk with them.  I couldn't  I took an English course, because I really  like literature. . . . There was only ten people in the class and . . . we talked about whatever comes to your mind about the books you've read. And  things that these people come up with-and  had  already read in high school!  these were books that I  And I couldn't believe they were so  stupid!  CR : a  The things that shocked  me  . . . were the differences, the ideas. . . .  58  People were different, everything was  different, the relationships between  people were different, everything was  different.  ...  it was  as if you can't get close to them, it was  a wall there, you can't really pass this wall, you once you  go there, that's it, it blocks you.  somebody and  It was  they're not warm enough.  like that with Canadians  grouping, they have their own  I said, it might be my  people and  closer, you're there and problem  families, they that's it.  you  It was  stay there."  . . . really, that's how  As  I felt.  having yet found a place to belong, she yearns to reach out, to connect, to be  to belong.  genuine  accepted, to express herself fully, to communicate, to be more real In an attempt  to fulfill her desire for this deeper and more  connection with others she finds herself faithfully explaining herself and  background  to them.  At times, this desire is accompanied by  which keeps her from  CR,:  own  I felt  Yearning for a Deeper Connection.  understood and and  . . . because  I felt they were within themselves, they can't  like, as if, "do not come any  Not  get to it, but  It's like you're trying to touch  a little bit more, like . . . they have their own  have their own  14.  can try and  that person is in a plastic bag, you can never touch, really  touch that person.  give you  as if there is always  I feel angry what we  taking risks with  about what we  are now!  that we, and  the fear of rejection  Canadians.  have lost.  Angry about what we  were and  So when I talk to them [students at the college], I try  to explain what we to them that we  her  were, how  beautiful it was  are not what they see on TV.  the Iranians who  there, . . .  I try to explain  I try to explain to them  live in Canada, are not such a fanatic, traditional  stupid bunch of people, that we  were different back then!  59  CR : 2  But that smile on his face that he found me me. . . . I felt that he was looking at me top  shocked  was bothering  like a nun from  a church on  of the mountains that has never been touched by a man  know how  to react and is nervous  and doesn't  but wanted, you know, like, "I wanted  you badly but I was nervous, I was afraid" . . . [I didn't want that to happen]--for him to think that of me, as a crazy, stupid girl who said no to such a wonderful guy . . . I didn't want that to happen.  I have his  address and God knows, I will find him someday in Toronto, only because I don't want him to have that kind of image of me, if he does by any chance.  CR : 3  He really tries to understand our culture and actually he is dating a Persian girl and he had some trouble at the beginning and I went to him and I said, "okay, these are these things, okay? or  don't even make an attempt  You either have to accept them,  to go out with her.  These are just some  things that come with her culture, just the same way that she has to accept some of your kind of attitudes."  And he's very understanding.  When I tell him, for example, "no, I can't leave the house to go and live alone because  of this and that," he understands.  He might  not agree with  it, but he understands.  CR : 4  . . . you come to a country to live and you don't know whether you're accepted by the country, by the people, how to get to them.  Okay, you're  here, you're totally different from them, and you're willing, within yourself, you're willing to try it, to show them that, "you can accept me. one  of you."  I can be  But I didn't know whether I can be accepted.  You're trying to find a reason for everything you do to make others understand you and your background  and your beliefs and so on and so  60  forth.  15.  Sense of C h r o n i c Conflict with  She  Parents.  constantly feels the frustration of being watched, judged, told to and sheltered  by  her parents.  She feels torn between her desire for autonomy and her love and  respect for her parents.  She feels different from  communicate with them.  As time passes, she finds the strength to take a stand  against them with regard to major decisions.  them and is often unable to  Nevertheless, her sense of duty  remains strong since she does not want to "hurt" her parents.  CR,:  They [my parents] are around me  all the time!  Sometimes I feel that I cannot think for myself. your life.  I'm overly protected. They always get into  It's not that they always want to, but they're used to it. So  sometimes I want to get away from  all that.  Right now, there are some decisions I have to make, but first I'd have to consider my  parents. . . . Right now I'm going through  have to think about certain  things in my  I also have to think of what my them I won't do it! my  CR : 2  parents want.  life, which I want for myself, but  parents think  first.  But it is hard  and sometimes it hurts.  Things  have to change, they will have to  change if I want to be something in this work [arts]. that I will have to change my  family, especially  They don't understand little bit concerned  me  Now  it doesn't mean  values . . . , but the way I'm living, it  to change, obviously, and I am  support in my  If it really hurts  So I still have strong values about considering what  So I have to decide something.  has  a stage where I  my  sure I am  not going to have  my  parents, because they're not living in it.  . . . it is that family thing I guess I was a  about . . .  ( 61  CR : 3  • • . there were a lot of things that we couldn't agree on and they couldn't understand  me  and I couldn't understand  it's gotten worse.  them  . . . and yes [in Canada]  Right now we just can't communicate.  When my  parents  are here I just try to limit the conversation to specific subjects because there are some subjects that they're too touchy  and I don't want them to  bring them up and be bothered.  CR(,:  . . . I think what slowed  it [the process of adjustment] down was the  family ties, the feeling of wanting to do something and not being able to do it because of your  family background, which is your  family, the tightness of  your family.  I don't totally have the courage to do some things that they [my parents] might not agree them.  . . . not totally, no . . . because I don't want to hurt  I could do it.  I could do it.  But I know if I do it, they will get  hurt.  16.  Invalidation of Self/Identity.  She  feels that her whole being has been invalidated, as if she is told that her  way of doing things, her ideas, her life experiences, her feelings, her past gains, achievements and skills and her culture do not count.  She feels this way because  she experiences (has experienced) rejection in its various forms: being by  others, failing a course, being fired from  admittance  CR i :  misunderstood  a job, being denied a position or  to an institution, and the like.  Well, right now, I don't think . . . [that Canadians don't understand me]. A t that time, when I was younger, when I talked with them, because as I said, my  ideas were different, then, I felt they don't understand  they didn't.  me.  And  62  CR :  I was so sure of what I was doing there [in Iran]! . . . Because I was so  2  independent,  always, and then in Canada I had to, you know, sometimes  people had to translate for me, I had to ask for a ride, I had to ask for an  address  independent  . . . but [back home] I was so . . . always . . . and then [in Canada] . . . I wasn't able to  communicate, I wasn't able to manage . . . to find a job and to keep it . .  ...  .  so I came here and sent my  final  grades and all that stuff to  U.B.C. and went to a counsellor out here because you don't have Math  12."  and she said: "I can't accept you  Well I had finished Math  was in eleventh grade, and practically all my  12 when I  sciences, because I gave an  exam and just finished everything [in an English-speaking school in Iran]. And  she said, "no, I can't accept you on that, so you have to go to  college" and so that was another  CR :  sort of a blow.  When I first came here, I tried a lot of things.  a  You  ...  had to have [Canadian] experience  Nobody would accept me.  . ..  I felt as if I am fighting, but I cannot get anywhere, . . . because  as much as I fought I was getting tired. . . . I couldn't push myself to go higher . . . probably because I felt maybe I am  screaming, I am  but nobody can hear me, nobody can see what I am  17. She  Loss  going through  fighting, . ..  of Self Esteem/Worth.  feels disappointed in self.  The magnitude of her loss of self-worth can be as  great as her feeling "like a failure" ( C R ) or "like a nothing" (CR, & C R „ ) . 3  CR,:  It's like being nothing, to be empty inside.  In the beginning I did feel that.  63  I would think: "I'm to my  nothing.  self-confidence. . . .  I'm  good for nothing."  In the beginning I felt I was  I wasn't doing much for myself then. meeting people, people I liked and "Who  CR : 3  am  I?  What am  I guess that relates  Not  good for nothing.  working, not going to school, not  made friends with.  I felt empty, like:  I good for?"  Somehow that year, I wasn't able to do it, I just didn't want to face myself, sort of thing.  I was  so disappointed and  want to have anything to do with myself. ' at myself I just saw  And  so disgusted, I just didn't as I said, when I looked  this failure, this person who  cannot  achieve a certain  standard.  CRj,:  I didn't have any  self-confidence at all . . . or self-worth.  questioned myself: "What am to do?  I going to do?  Is there anything I can do? . . .  I didn't know myself, I didn't know. . . .  Future-wise, I  What are the things I want  in a sense I felt incapable . . .  It was  hard  ...  it was  terrible-as if you don't have anything, you're not a human being.  18. A  Disorientation to Living.  deep sense of confusion prevails and  She  CR,:  feels unsure and  Two  uncertain about herself and  years ago.  me  a period of frustration begins.  lost in my  identity.  I didn't know what I wanted to be.  happy or who  identity.  That's when I started to have a more definite sense of  myself . . . [before] I was wanted.  covers areas such as values and  makes me  All those questions . . .  I didn't know what I I didn't know what makes  happy, what kind of people make me  happy.  64  CR :  I was checking all the people that I knew, that I knew and I respected so  2  much from  this culture.  I was checking them one by one.  What was  wrong about them? . . . And at one point I felt that it's okay, having sex is joy, especially if you are attracted to each other, so what is wrong here?  CR :  I wasn't sure.  3  Actually I wasn't sure about anything, it was sort of like,  maybe you don't know anything.  There was always this sense of, I mean, which one is right? confusion-am  CR„:  A  sense of  I doing the right thing?  And it was hard because you don't know yourself . . . you don't know what you are, what characters you have . . . you feel the emptiness because you don't know what you are, you don't know what to do, it's as if you're  stuck somewhere, it's like not being able to move, not being able  to do anything.  19.  Sense of Struggle.  She  is caught  in a struggle which often feels in vain.  and  powerless  in her struggles she develops  times feels completely defeated. drained of energy  CR,:  Upon becoming frustrated  a tendency to give up hope and at  Defeat manifests itself in: depression/withdrawal,  to fight, give away power/control, etc.  I'd say: "I'll have to tag along with them [sister and her family]."  I didn't  want to, but I would say: "that's okay, I have no other choice. . . . " I wished, I dreamed I'd be in my  own house to be able to do what I wanted  to, to be more settled, you know, that choice I did not have.  Or the  choice of going back to Iran, where I had a place, I had friends and everything. . . . I was caught. . . . I had to tag along with them.  And  65  it really bothered  CR : 2  me.  So the whole thing was  really disappointing and hard.  And  I failed the  course . . . and after that I didn't want to speak a word of English to  CR : 3  anyone!!  I remember I hated it! . . . I didn't want to speak any more  English.  I used to love speaking English when I was  in Iran.  . . . but over here it was just like a dead end, like, it felt like, I'm to die, so what?  It was  Should I?  going  There was just no hope.  like when you're walking down a hill, you don't really have to walk  because you would just get dragged down anyways.  And  it was  like a pit,  just fall and you'd just go down and down.  CR : 4  ...  I have struggled and I have fought and I didn't know where  going to, I didn't know whether it's a fighting or not, sometimes. sometimes . . .  I was  so frightened and frustrated  I'm Because  and sometimes I would  sit there and say, "I accept anything" and I didn't know whether I can fight any more or not.  I felt as if I am  fighting but I cannot get anywhere, I can't go higher  because as much as I fight I get tired, like, you know. . . .  I couldn't  push myself to go higher [on the ladder].  20.  Reviewing One's Self.  She stops to examine herself, others and the situation more realistically.  She feels  a need to act and begins looking for solutions and finding answers.  CR,:.  ...  if you face problems and you're more on your own, you will get a  66  chance to know whether you can handle realize your strengths and abilities.  the difficulties or not.  It was like examining  whether I could take care of myself or not. problems or not, or would being on my happy or not?  Is it what I want?  until and unless I experienced that. me  CR : 2  You get to  to find out  Whether I can handle  own, being independent,  my  make  own  me  I would've never been able to tell And being here, I think, has provided  more chances to experience that.  In other words, you give this culture a chance. correct.  Maybe some of it is  And give yourself a chance to change, changes that make sense to  me.  CR : 3  One of the factors was facing the reality of what had happened.  I faced  myself with: "Yeah, you've failed your first year of university, you're  still  getting Fs in your sciences, you can't do this, you can't do that," and finally with these I was able to, sort of like a self-analysis, I was able to face them and do something about them.  CR(,:  In a sense it made  me  realize the differences between me  and them and  how much I have to work, how much I have to experience, how much I have to be open-minded, how much I have to see, how much I have to get my  views larger, to be, to accept those views . . . it made  me  realize how  much I have to change myself, how much I have to see and to experience, to  You  do to be more adjusted.  get to a point that you have to do something about it.  pulled any more. set  You can't be  You have to do something about it and that's it! You  to a point where you say to yourself "no matter  what, I have to find  a solution for it." . . . And then you review yourself and you review  your  67  situation. and  Who  am  I!  What am  figure yourself out, you  I going to do?  come back to yourself and  point where you begin to understand  21. She  Realistically Appraising the  And  you  kind of sit back  to me  that's the  yourself, you begin to grow.  Homeland as it  is.  (gradually) comes to terms with the realities of the situation in Iran.  painfully realizes that her country has become an entity unknown to her. insight, however, helps her let go of the desire to go back and  She This  to feel more at  home here.  CR,:  It [the situation in Iran] actually helped.  If the situation hadn't gotten so  bad, the process might have been slower. more and me  about going back.  to not think about  situation and down my  CR : 2  But when the situation got worse, it helped  it as much, it sort of helped me  the reality, the fact that I am  here. . . .  to accept the It sort of broke  hope of going back to live there for ever.  Being here for five years and can't tell!  I might have thought about Iran  not knowing what's going on there, you  It's like talking about the unknown.  Some of these people say  "would you  go back?"  It's an unknown place.  and  I say  guess that's when I think of Iran as what it is right now, it is hell!  CR : 3  This was used  Who  wants to go  "no." I'm  And  I  not stupid,  back?!  Iran after the revolution.  It was  to the specific kind of people and  totally different.  really  then all of a sudden . . . it's  I felt left out-it wasn't my  strange people that I didn't know.  so strange because you were  country any  more, these were  68  Most of it was visit]. new,  new.  It's like going to another country [after going for a  It's something  else.  It's completely new.  'cause I've been away for five or six years.  changed a lot. . . .  It was  to my  a  So  I've definitely  different, very different . . . even right  whenever I remember something  CR :  Even the relationships are  about Iran, it's usually from  now,  the past, prior  trip, most of the time, when I remember, it's from before . . .  [I really realized  that I won't go back] a year ago.  About a year and  half . . . that's when I felt more settled. . . . It's a good feeling. feeling that you, okay, it's like for six, seven years, you disease within yourself. getting rid of it, and it's a good feeling.  Something that's eating you  It's a  were carrying a  up, or finally you're  it's a good feeling, I feel guilty sometimes . . . but And  I have, like it doesn't bother me  about it even if it be to Persian people. that, to feel that way, will go back.  a  any  more to talk  Like before I felt ashamed to say  because . . . everybody  is thinking one  But I don't think this will be my  case, you  day  they  know, because  finally I come to a settlement that I've got rid of the disease. . . . And that's it.  When I think about my  country it's as if I am  thinking  about  thirty years ago, forty years ago, it's so, so far away, it's so far away that it's like, thirty, forty years ago, it's behind me, gone, it's finished, it will never come again. . . . any  22.  more.  it's unreal, it's like  I don't think I know Iran  Because what I remember is not what it is  now.  Recognizing P e r s o n a l Potency/Power.  Looking back at the experience she realizes the magnitude of her power the process. control and  CR,:  ...  She  takes responsibility for events over which she has  had  throughout some  takes pride in her strength to meet the many challenges of the process.  maybe if / were more friendly.  You  see, then, I always thought that  69  they were not friendly with me.  I never thought it could be me.  went to them, and yet I blame them for being them [Canadian high school friends], not myself.  unfriendly.  I never  I always blamed  But maybe it would have  been different if I was different.  CR : 2  I'm not being do.  reasonable to expect more of myself, more than what I could  For example, the doctor that I told you about, well look what's  happened in his life, so he's a doctor  at the age of 26, I'm not, so what?  I cannot blame myself for what's happened, you know, I'd no control. . . . I did the best that anyone could do in these situations. . . . I never gave up. you  And I didn't, it wasn't easy, we knew that it is hard to leave Iran, know, but I did it.  It wasn't easy to learn Spanish, after a few  months, after five months, I was able to do everything  myself . . . [and] I  haven't given up yet . . .  CR : 3  Three years ago I would just be dragged anywhere, I couldn't care less. The  only thing that I'm happy about is that I was still strong enough not  to get involved in drugs or things like that, which I, the school part I don't give a damn about as long as I don't get involved in drugs or alcohol or any  kind of that stuff, or God knows, you know, when you are in that  state you can do a lot of things, so I'm really happy about that. . . . I'm proud of myself.  CR : a  I've proven myself and I've proven that they don't have any other but to accept me, you know what I mean? whether they're  going to accept me  choice  Like, it's not any more  or not, they will, they have to, they'd  better. . . . I have struggled and I have fought and I didn't know where I'm going to, I didn't know whether it's a fighting or not, sometimes. Because sometimes when I think about all the way I came sometimes I was  70  so frightened and frustrated and sometimes I would sit there and say "I accept anything" and I didn't know whether I can fight any more or not, but you've come all the way and you've proven  to yourself and proven to  everybody that you can do it . . . !  23.  Validation of Self.  She  recognizes that her being/self is being validated by others in various ways and  degrees, her self, which encompasses her ways of doing things, her ideas, her life experiences, her feelings, her achievements and skills and her culture and history, are validated through understand  meeting and befriending people who understand  her, coming across Canadians who know  or try to  (or are interested in knowing)  about Iran, discovering people with whom she shares similar experiences, values, ideas, . . . , recognizing her accomplishments and realizing that others with similar experiences (of uprooting) have successfully completed  CR,:  She was really something!  She really was a good friend to me.  Canadian friend] was different. her.  the process.  She could understand  me.  That's what I felt. She helped me.  She [a  I could easily talk to You know, she didn't  have the same cultural background as me, but she could  understand  me.  I've met some [Canadians] who know exactly everything about our country and  I feel happy about that because you are known to them and that feels  good!  CR : 2  . . . now  I look at my  papers  and I'm so thrilled, I can sit there and  laugh at them for hours, when I read them! progress of my  English.  Like I used  meetings and not understand  Anyway, I could feel the  to go places, youth  conferences and  a word of what they were talking about.  after six months I would go hear the same person talk and understand  And a  71  little more and  ...  after six months I understood more! . . .  I have a teacher, he  "would you  marry me?,"  and  came to me  and  really," and  he said "why  night?" and  so on.  boyfriend?"  I said  don't" and he  is funny, he always  he makes funny comments and one  not?  Didn't your man  I said "what man?" and  said "so what do you  And  he said "would you  said "I've had thought, "my me"  ...  God,  now  asking questions, you  got to this point, he  his weekends?  He  yet."  And  "you  wrong with I like.  know, just as a friend, he  started  I  then I  So "How  talking . . . and  as he  wants to marry too but he just doesn't  loves him!  I thought "he is so  But he has nothing to do  on  Nobody calls him, he cannot find anyone to marry to, and  so it is not a problem, at least, it's not only my  problem."  Their age  above. . . .  range  said  I said "well, I have  someone who  so I came home and  popular at the school, everybody  3  work!"  he'll think that there's something  meet the right person . . .  I said "well, I  have a boyfriend if you didn't have to?"  "It must be hard" . . . and  talking we  don't have a  I said "I work."  it just didn't happen, I haven't met  come?" and  CR :  he said "you  then you  he  take you on a wild  opportunities, but I didn't have one  next time he started  was  do?"  day  I said "no, not  "Come on, such a pretty girl!"  go to school Five days a week and to."  great!!  goes to the girls and says:  said, "did you have a nice weekend?"  "no."  It was  was  that helped, because experience that I had  from, they were like 24 and these were people who  had  So I guess  gone through the same  gone through, so they were familiar with it, and  regardless of their age, forget about their age, they were mature people, and they weren't silly persons . . . and because when I was  back in Iran, of my  people, it just reminded  me  they so reminded  wildness . . . and  me  when I met  of myself these  of myself five years ago, of what I was  when I  72  was  back in Iran.  . . . and I did work and I really started from the basic, like the lowest rank, and I went to the highest which was were really surprised . . . was  it really gave  really good.  me  life, so that was  good.  It boosted my  an important issue in  self-image, because as I said, I  moved five steps during the six month period, which was to  work, and be, this was  about, I was  Also my was  a work I had  able to learn it in a day  manager, used to be my  a strong, how  good.  manager, now  she's my  supervisor, she  do I say that, when I see her, I see myself in twenty,  that probably helped me  in a sense that she's doing fine she's enjoying it!  still be an achiever." . . .  to see, to get close to someone who  she feels very successful, probably I needed  I think a lot of it, it's due to my  I probably  is a little bit like me  asense that, she's by herself, she has no kids, no husband,  and  in a  she is still,  to see somebody in that position.  job. . . . The  accomplishment, and it's funny, but when we good feeling, everybody is Canadian except me,  achievement and the  go to a meeting, it's such a that is, I don't know how  that is an excellent feeling. . . . I t feels really good.  to  It feels as if  you, it feels that you can tell them to accept you, it's not any question whether  And  to see, to realize, "yes," you know, "you can be by  yourself and still enjoy yourself and  say,  ability  and do it with perfection . . .  and she's enjoying every bit of everything, every day  And  My  never done, I had no knowledge  thirty years and probably that helped . . .  needed  [my parents]  a sense of independence, which  really important, independence has always been  my  They  more a  they're going to accept you, you're different, and it's a  good feeling, you think as if you've  gone, you've had more difficulties, you  were stronger, you had to do a little bit more . . .  to be where they are,  73  it's a good feeling . . . you've come a long way, and you've proven to yourself and proven to everybody  24. She  that you can do it and it's a good feeling.  Sense of Acceptance. realizes that it is fine to be different and that it is also fine and necessary to  make changes.  She begins to accept others in spite of their differences-some of  which she had found appalling in the beginning.  She accepts her own individuality  as well as that of others, regardless of differences in background.  CR,:  Until then, I didn't know that it [her being Canadian] doesn't matter. used to think that maybe it did matter.  But by being with her and talking  with her I realized it doesn't have to matter. comfortable with Persians.  There  to at all, so I think right now  CR : 2  I  Because I don't always  feel  are some you wouldn't want to get close  it really doesn't matter.  • • • before when I saw drunk people, for instance, I was scared to death of them.  But now  . . . of course, I don't like it because, my  is that when they're drunk they're not themselves understand  why  first  reason  any more and I don't  they do it and I don't like it . . . I cannot  understand  why they do it then, but I also found out that they enjoy it, I can accept it, so it doesn't destroy their whole image any more.  They're drunk  tonight, tomorrow they're the same people, so that's another thing that I came to accept. and  I now can make friends with people who do get drunk  that's very important to me, because  before I wasn't able to. . . . I  also found out that there are some people who don't drink. by the "typical" Canadian people are different from  image in my  mind any more.  one another, which is good.  I know that  Which was, I guess,  a kind of discrimination before which I wasn't aware of. prejudice.  So I don't go  So there's less  74  CR : 3  And I went through  a process of adaptation-it was difficult, but I'm still  trying to get out of it, and I'm succeeding, succeeded so far . . . and I hope to make it even better . . . and if there are already the values that I've had, I sort of adjusted them my  CR„:  so I could survive here, but still not lose  identity as an Iranian.  . . . you have to change, not totality, you still can have your values and your, I mean, everybody is different from any other person, so you still can be different.  And I know I am  else is different from any other  still different, but everybody is, everybody person.  Exercising One's Personal Power (Acting on One's Personal Power).  25.  Having discovered her personal potency, she feels encouraged to exercise it. She does so by speaking her mind, taking a stand (particularly with parents), going after her dreams and facing her difficulties.  CR,:  The other thing that is a sign of maturity for me my  problems now.  handle and  CR : 2  them more calmly.  I thought  more!  I don't panic at the thought  "This is it!  is the way I deal with  of a problem any more.  For instance something happened to me It is the end of the world  It's a kind of strength that I feel.  for me!"  I  last year Not any  I feel stronger now.  . . . I always believed that if you can imagine something it means that you  can do it, it can happen, and now my  imagination can go farther. . . .  So I can do anything.  CR : 3  . . . I really wanted to go and study to my  psychology.  . . . I decided I'm going  study psychology, finally, I just said, I just got the courage to say [to parents], "now I'm going to study it, now if you want to pay for it,  75  you can, if you don't, too bad, I think, I'll get a job."  CR : 4  . . . when I first started this job. . . . I was a frightened kid. the  kind of person who would talk to two people at the same time in the  same room, because I was so frightened. meeting and speak my  26.  I wasn't  Sense  mind  Now, I can do it, I can go to a  and say what I think.  of Freedom.  She recognizes the freedoms and choices that Canada has offered her, particularly as a woman, and she admits to being a freer person now.  CR,:  . . . the meaning freedom  [of the experience] has been that I have found the  to choose, to do what I choose.  I am more free!  If I was back home I couldn't feel that freedom. why  That's one of the things  I might not be able to live there, because of the sense of freedom.  might not have personal freedom  I  and that might bother me. . . . I felt that  freedom here. . . . this sense of freedom was really good for me and I felt it here.  CR : 2  In Iran I had to struggle more as a woman. . . . I guess I'm expecting of myself more here, because I have more opportunities, more, so I'm obviously expecting of myself more.  CR : 3  . . . over here, I think I'm just a bit more comfortable than I was back home.  And I have  more freedom.  Another thing that I realized when I went back, well before I came out of Iran, I was young and knew a little about the male dominated  society we  76  had and then I came here and over here, there is some prejudice against women . . . but still it's not as bad as it was in Iran.  But when I went  back, I realized that it's worse than I ever thought it would guess one of the other problems And  I guess the problem  be!  So I  that keeps me from going back is that.  has always been there, it was just under cover  and they've just removed the cover.  And it's such a shame!  So I guess  it's true that Canada has offered me that freedom, or at least a hope for it.  CR : ft  One of the reasons I am happy and I can never regret it, I don't want to go back is really because And  I had a lot of choices, I had a lot of choices.  I believe choices is what makes you, what builds you. . . . Like, if  you have a life without any choices, I don't think you can grow as much, . . . if you don't have any choice, you don't think, you're told in a way  and you're going in that direction . . . and I'm happy and I'm lucky  that I had the choice and I could find my was  way . . . I don't think I, if I  living in Iran, I don't think I would have had [as many choices].  ...  I think there is a lot of things that I would  didn't do it [come to Canada],  have never know if I  There's a lot more that I have to do, or to  learn and thank God I am in a country that they will give me a chance to do it.  27. She  Sense  of H a v i n g G r o w n T h r o u g h  feels she has matured  the Experience.  through this unique experience.  know herself and feels more whole/more grounded  She has grown to  as a woman now.  She has  grown to rediscover herself and her identity.  CR,:  It was a maturing process!  It was very good.  Now, I'm not sorry that I  77  came. . . . I like Canada, because second life.  it's like my  I started to know myself here!  second country, this is my  I started t grow up here!  If I had stayed in Iran, I would've matured very late, much later.  I  wouldn't have had those growing  experiences.  I wouldn't have know life the  way it really is so early in my  life. . . . I'm really glad to have gone  through all of this and to have gained the kinds of experiences that I did. Because it really changed me  CR : 2  very fast, it helped me  I have changed. . . . I'm older in my  grow fast.  age, then I'm older experience-wise,  I'm expecting more of myself.  I think I've grown so much that, that I think nothing existed before. because  there is no end to growing  depend so much on what I am  CR : 3  And  and maturing, now I don't tend to  now.  When I went back and saw my  friends, I really felt so proud of myself,  'cause I have grown so much having been here, and they were so surprised.  CR : a  [the meaning and outcome of this experience for me To  was] to know myself.  grow. . . . to be me, and I guess I had to pay a little bit in a sense  that I had to leave half of myself in my  country.  But, I finally found  myself. . . . [who is a woman] who is independent, who is looking for a life, for a fulfillment in life . . .  ...  I know myself now, I know who I am, I know I've come a long  way, but finally I've found myself, I know what is wrong and also what is good and what my  values are, what I want to do and what I don't want  to do. . . . Let's put it this way, I lost myself, then now I found myself.  78  28.  O p e n i n g to New  She  Possibilities/Establishing New  feels open to new ideas, new discoveries and new changes.  differently and feels ready  CR,:  Dreams.  sister back home, the one who is still in  She got married when she was 20, it's seven  think the experience I had which helped me  years now.  are much better, my  by now.  I don't  she went through. . . . Well,  she's older than me, but I think much better than her.  are much higher.  sees life  to meet the challenges of the future.  . . . I compare myself with my Iran.  She now  expectations are much higher, my  My  values in life  aspirations in life  If I were back home, I think I would've been married  And like her, I would've hoped for a big nice house and lots of  money and a comfortable life, like the one I had when I was in Iran. . . . That's all she wants for herself, nothing else. the same. my  Depending on other people  values are different now.  shouldn't come easy.  CR : 2  • • . my  Now  And I know I would've been  and having a comfortable life.  I know life doesn't come easy, it  You have to work hard to make it worth living!  world is bigger now, and I can think big, there is more diversity  than I can imagine  now.  It is open now, my  life can be anything.  it was so limited, because of the environment and because of my before.  Before  experiences  But now, I can improve myself because of what I see, all the good  and  all the bad that I see.  my  world is, has no limits, has no end now.  ...  But  Now  I have to decide something.  I can see the choices that I have. . . .  Things have to change.  They will have  to  change if I want to be something in this work [art]. . . . it's a change  for  the better, to me, because it's a new vision of life, you know, what is  going around me, everything, every detail, every  single thing around me  will  have a different meaning to me, you know, this is a whole new thing.  So  79  it's not a change to be worried about. . . . I'm just expecting something to happen.  CR : 3  I knew that I had to change some things, now it's as if it's written down for  me.  How  do I explain this?  Like sometimes you know you have to do  something but it's always kept in the back of your mind and you never face it, now  I'll face it.  So, I guess it's taking it one step further of  facing the changes in your life.  I can't say that I'm anxious  about it,  'cause there are going to be some bad things happening, but also some good things as well and, I think it would be very exciting though.  It'll probably  be something very new and I'm open to newness.  CR : 4  I am  more open.  Open to new ideas, open to finding, open to probably not  thinking, as I said before, not thinking about something right and something wrong.  Probably  before I was thinking whether, like if you want to do it,  is it right to do it or not?  Now  I, at least, the least I can do is see it,  experience it, and then find out whether it's wrong or right.  Whether you  like it or not, whether it's you or not. . .  [Now] you're looking for the challenges of the future. . wait.  You go there to look for challenges.  You don't want to  It's as if you can't wait any  more!  Seeing Experience as Part of a Greater Plan (Sense of Destiny).  29. She in  has reached  the conviction that having to go through  Canada was "meant to be" for her-as if behind  this experience and being  the experience lies a  meaningful  purpose.  CR,:  It could've been God's will.  He really liked me  to have a better life,  80  maybe He saw a better life for me  here, maybe it was my  destiny to come  here.  CR : 2  • . • and you hear about them executing ten women or ten men  [Baha'is in  Iran] and so on and you say, "my  I here?!"  and  God, what on earth, why am  you feel kind of guilty, and at the same time sometimes I think, you  know, if God doesn't want you to do something, how hard you try.  you cannot do it, no matter  So there is a point to be here for me, and maybe I  don't know yet, I'll find out sometime, or maybe the point is that here I can have a voice, and talk for those who have no voice there.  CR : 3  For a time I thought, "is it really fair for me They say there is a God out there. realized maybe He wants me  to go through  So where is he?!"  all of this?  After a while I  to go through all of this for a specific reason.  That's why I've let go of any set plans and I've decided that if there is going to be a way, it will come and I don't really have to go after it. A l l I can do is prepare myself for any of the paths.  CR(,:  I feel as if I was chosen here.  Maybe me, as me, I had to be here and not the other girl next  door—in Iran. me  to be here, as if it was meant for me to be  I was meant to be here for a reason. . . . The reason to  is that I don't think, if I had stayed in Iran, I wouldn't have been the  woman I am what I am  now and maybe the reason is for me  to know myself, to be  and maybe to find the truth, whatever the truth is. . . .  Maybe there is a reason and it lays ahead and I'll find it later.  30. She  Sense of Uniqueness/Richness of Experience. feels that she has experienced something  experience.  that no-one else has had a chance to  This experience has added to the richness of her life.  She also feels  81  proud  that vis-a-vis the uniqueness  of this experience, as well as the richness of  her cultural background, she has contributed much to this country and to the world.  CR : 2  My  faith [helped], my  faith in what was going on in general, in why were  things happening and looking at the Baha'is being persecuted in Iran and then feeling guilty for a while, but then, I thought, well if somebody like me  should leave Iran and come to a country like Canada and be able to  tell people what is going on in Iran, for example.  So this again is destiny,  but I'm being useful again, I can do something here.  And then I should do  it as a duty, as a responsibility, so yeah, there is a meaning.  ...  I think it is a success for humanity as a whole that . . . immigrants  bring something with themselves  to this country, they add something to what  is already there and as human beings, they learn something, you know, they learn things that they didn't know that existed before.  So this whole  process is a positive constructive thing that happens.  CR : 3  Sometimes I think, well, if I had passed  that year and so forth I would  have finished university this year, but then I think back and I say, "well, I experienced something that hardly anyone has had the chance of experiencing . . . "  . . . when I came here, migrated that was my  culture, my  here, I brought  ideology from  another  my  country.  gift is that to Canada, and nothing more than that. achieve here, that's the biggest one, so it's from obviously others can learn.  biggest asset and  my  And my biggest  No matter  what I  experience that  82 CR(,:  . . . when I looked at myself and I saw that girl which  I left in Iran,  and  when I looked at the other part of me  had  the opportunity to see and to measure, to see Canada and what I can  get  from  which was in Canada, I felt I  Canada and what I have which I can keep and what I don't like  I can lose and get it from Canada . . . I thought, maybe a lot of people don't have it. and  31.  Sense  She  That they don't have other things to compare, which I had  that made me  feel good.  of Stability.  has established so much here that she feels partly rooted in this country.  Moreover, her dreams and her future have moved to Canada and she looks forward to  establishing even more.  CR,:  This is the home she feels she has now.  You see, I keep saying "being here" and the reason is because I feel that I grew up here. in Canada.  The period between childhood and adulthood, I've spent here,  I've gone through the transition here.  experiences here in Canada. rest here as well.  I went through the  So it will be easier for me  to go through the  I don't know, maybe if I had gone through this stage  in Iran, it might have been easier to stay there.  But . . . I kind of grew  up here and that's different.  I don't see a future in Iran.  CR : 2  I am  planning for a better future in Canada.  I guess somehow Canada is home, because you start something over again here and you establish something here.  CR : 3  I can say that I'm more comfortable here, I feel more at home here. . . . And  I guess I feel at home here because nothing is new to me, everything  is familiar to me  now, as if I've lived here all my  life.  So I guess that's  83  why  I can  say  that I feel at home here. . . . Even right now  regime changes [in Iran] we  CR : 4  32.  would still feel like strangers there.  I finally got a chance to say home and  I'm  Re-affirming  happy to be  it out loud!  Sometimes I say, "I belong  2  ...  of immigration,  feels that she  here."  there, because of my  accept to belong  CR :  But  something, and  Canadian, you  My  then it brings me  to this world, to Canada and  know, the best could be  Persian like crazy, now  a Canadian who  in  can  accept me  as a  love each other crazy, but  that I'm  my to a  is not Persian, and  Baha'i, you  I want to  I owe  more proud now  relatives,  a Canadian, if someone asked me  would say Iran first, it's where I grew up right now,  a song or  what would happen?  friends, so I guess even now  I guess I'm  I can't  is willing to learn  I guess in Iran, . . . that's where I grew up, my  of what I am  very  I try to imagine myself married  I don't know, a Canadian . . . who  roots?  I love Iran!  on occasions there'll be  know, there are going to be points when he  3  is still  anywhere else . . .  then everything would be just fine, we'd  CR :  she  will, forever, remain Persian.  strong feelings for Iran.  relationships to all these people, and  be  country  then sometimes I still feel that I  if I read a poem or something, and  Persian.  yes, I call this  One's Roots.  much in love with the homeland and  belong  And  here!  Feeling very positive about the overall experience  CR,:  if the  . . . most of my  life and  it to that, that kind of lifestyle.  of being an  Iranian than ever  before.  my I  most  84 CR„:  I will always and forever feel Persian.  But this is my  a Persian who lives in Canada and Canada is my  home now.  home.  I am  85  Narrative Description  Upon leaving her homeland, she leave behind all that she  loved and  painful, but she  leave.  But  much more.  feels forced to leave.  the situation, which has  left her  must break away  no  She  Leaving  all of that is difficult  feels pushed to leave because of  place in her homeland and  what is "out there" is unknown.  no  choice but to  What lies ahead of her, her  in a foreign land with people so different from her, is a question dark.  Questions like "would I have to stay out of my  life?"  (CR )  she  3  puzzle and  scare her.  The  homeless and  no  mark in the  for the rest of  my  vagueness of her future scares her, but  longer there. and  all that she  with  realizes that the shelter she  At home, she her own  had  people.  certainty about her future. now  home and  left behind, she  yearns to settle down "somewhere"-somewhere she  arrives in Canada and  country  she  country  future  must leave. Having broken away from her  She  and  seemed precious to her--people, happiness, a  home, memories, a part of her, and and  realizes that she  feels insecure and  As  experienced  protection, security of being She  if the  had  been pulled from  yearns to have them back.  security, she  of life  She  dreams, fantasizes, and  resents the force behind her  has  the country  being here. which was  She  left behind  remembers why  hers and  belonged to her.  that constitutes a nation and  a handful of "mad"  she is  feels chronically "locked  the literature, the people and  everything  and  visions of home.  She  by  and  under her feet,"  situation "back home" also angers her.  destroyed  own  remembers all those  Amidst her longing for the much-loved homeland, she  country,  back home is  disarmed of stability.  precious things, places, people, feelings, moments, etc., that she  out" of her own  find stability.  in her  the stability of a way  "rug has  Missing home's sense of stability and  here and  can  feels  The  remembers the culture, the history,  people, towards whom she  is now  feels much anger.  being  86  Angry at those who are destroying her home, she wonders if she could do anything to help (like staying and suffering with the rest of the nation).  Knowing  that there is little or nothing she can do, she feels powerless. Being here and yearning for a home, she looks for a place to belong. naturally, is surrounded  by people from  more comfortable with them.  She,  her homeland/group and she naturally feels  Befriending some members of her own group, she  realizes that she is different from  most of them in many  painful and leads to a sense of estrangement from connections she has made thus far.  ways.  This insight is  her own group, and from the  She feels lonely and unfulfilled among the  crowd of her friends. In  the meantime, her contact with Canadians tells her that she is very  different from Having  them and that she has little or no place in the society at large.  failed to find herself a place where she would belong, she feels desperate to  establish deeper connections with others (of any group).  Trying to establish this  connection, she finds herself explaining all of her actions, values, culture and background.  She cries for understanding  and acceptance.  Amidst and accompanying her seemingly  endless struggle, she feels torn  between her desire for autonomy and her love and respect for her parents, from whom she feels very different. to  This chronic sense of conflict with parents resumes  date and she constantly feels watched, judged, told to, and sheltered by, her  parents whom  she sees as trying to keep her strongly attached to their own ways  of being. In and  this tiring endeavour she experiences rejection at a very personal level  feels that her self is not being validated.  "Your past, your your feelings, your here."  The message she receives is this:  way of thinking, your upbringing, your skills, your knowledge, values, your culture, and who you are (were) doesn't  What gives her this message is that she feels misunderstood  that she is not hired for a job (or is fired from or  count  by others, or  a job), or that she fails a course,  . . . Therefore, she feels very disappointed in herself to the extent that she  87  feels incompetent  and incapable and in some instances "like a nothing."  Thinking and feeling "What am I worth, anyway?" and receiving messages that answer negatively, she begins to question her values, her upbringing and her identity, as well as the moral values of the society. prevail and she feels lost in her choices. she becomes frustrated.  Uncertainty and confusion  She struggles to find an answer(s), but  She feels powerless, stuck and pushed out of control.  Giving up sounds very appealing to her. Having  "hit the bottom" she feels compelled  to act.  to look back and put the experience into perspective.  Her first endeavour is  She now, more realistically,  reviews herself and others in relation to the experience. Still resentful about the situation back home and angered  at losses her  nation has experienced, she realistically reviews the situation of her homeland. painfully comes to terms with a final loss.  She realizes that her homeland,  regardless of the felt emotional connection with it, is no longer what it used She  She  to be.  realizes that Iran has not remained what she had known for all those years.  This painful insight helps her feel more grounded here. as her second  It helps her view Canada  home-as the home she has now.  In the course of reviewing her experiences, she realizes the magnitude of her potency  throughout  the process.  She realizes that as defeated and helpless as she  may have felt at times, she has never she also feels empowered.  Looking  truly given up.  Feeling proud  of herself,  at the past and the present, she recognizes  moments, events, experiences, in which the self became validated.  How?  She  meets others (from any group) who are interested in her and in her background. She  discovers others who show her more understanding  people who feel, think, and act similarly to her.  and acceptance.  She finds  She discovers people from  whom  she receives the message that she is on the right track of a successful adjustment. She  works, learns, accomplishes  and achieves.  validated and she accepts herself as she is.  Her sense  of being becomes  She tells herself that it is fine to be  different and that it is fine for others to be different.  She also realizes the need  88  to  change in certain areas and  now.  She  feels ready  She  begins to speak her mind and  faces her own to  to further exercise her power, at a more conscious level takes a stand with her parents.  problems, establishes her values and  fulfill them. She  Her  realizes that the experience has  feels strong enough  had  and  made of her a freer being.  still has.  She  feels especially much freer as a woman.  grown and  desires and  She  self-esteem rises.  sees the choices she has She  accepts the change.  become more whole as a person.  feels freer to be  As She  and  She  now  to act.  well, she feels that she  has  concludes that the painful  experiences of having to make choices, of having to struggle for acceptance, of having to take care of herself, of having to review her values, of having to meet the many challenges of the process, have shaped her and  have made her grow.  She  realizes that the process has given birth to a more grounded sense of self.  She  has now  established a more certain knowledge of herself and  her identity, and  this, she believes, is among the most valuable outcomes of the experience. Having newness. new  re-discovered and  She  re-constructed her identity, she feels open to  feels open to new  future here in Canada.  dreams, new  She  She  establishing new  her dreams have, for now,  she  has.  And  behind  now  looks forward  to fulfilling  feels partly rooted in this country This has  now  become the home  this painful, but rich, experience, which she will  sees a greater purpose.  It is as if she was brought  regarding it as very worthwhile  never  chosen to come, as if she  here to fulfill a mission and to  something for herself and/or for humanity.  experience and admits  She  moved to Canada.  pushed out of her homeland and  accomplish  She  realizes that in Canada she has established some, but never all, of the  and  was  a  ones.  precious things she left behind in Iran.  regret, she  challenges and  feels armed to meet her life's challenges and in  some cases she feels anxious to meet them. her dreams and  possibilities, new  and  Fully accepting the  meaningful, she contentedly  that her central core, her central roots will forever remain in Iran, like the  89  roots of an She  old tree.  She  will forever love her country, miss it and  is thankful for this experience, but  A  One  upon her  aspects of her country-partly had  due  validated all the themes and  that she, now,  a very  considered  had  actually been able to go back to  arrival there she  This incident had  had  felt estranged partly due  from most  to changes  happened a few  months  Interestingly enough, during the second interview the narrative description quite strongly and  added  statements pertaining  have been quoted in the section on themes in this chapter).  point worthy of mention is that she  Canada, she for  3  feels more at home in Canada (some of her  to this experience A  (CR )  to the results of this study is  to changes in Iran and  undergone here in Canada.  prior to the validation interview. she  Special Case  of the co-researchers  Iran for a short visit and  she  will forever remain Persian.  interesting finding which renders support  the fact that one  remember it.  expressed that after returning to  had, once again, gone through almost the entire cycle of themes, but short period (a few  as one  weeks).  lending more support  This exciting incident, I believe, can to the results of this study.  be  90  C H A P T E R V: Discussion  Through an analysis of the interviews themes were formulated women.  with the co-researchers,  thirty-two  that describe the experience of immigration for Iranian  Based on these themes, which were common to all co-researchers, a  narrative description was produced which is a story about the essential structure and  pattern of the phenomenon.  validated by all co-researchers, uniqueness of each of their  The themes and the narrative description were  in spite of the diversity of the women and the  experiences.  Limitations of the Study  The  study described  the structure of an experience common to the four  women who were interviewed.  It does not assume that the themes and the  description encompass the entire population Neither  of immigrant women in this country.  does it assume that the story completely fits the experience of the entire  population  of single Iranian women who have migrated to Canada.  The results of  this study, I believe, can be of use in counselling Iranian women and possibly women from similar backgrounds. however, remains to be examined.  The extent of the application of the results, It is possible that by interviewing  a larger  number of immigrant women, Iranian and other, additional themes would emerge and  add to the richness of these findings. The  area.  narrative description provides  a foundation  for future research  in this  The story, as told in the description, is not a long list of objective facts.  Rather it should  be viewed as an intricately intertwined tapestry  counsellors and researchers immigration.  which  provides  with more understanding of the experiences of  I undertook this task with the hope that the findings of this study  open up dialogue  in new and unexplored areas of the phenomenon among those  who are interested in the field of cross-cultural psychology.  Future studies may  91  confirm, challenge, or add to these findings.  Theoretical Implications  The and  narrative description has, as any human story, a beginning, a middle  an end.  the story.  The end completes  the beginning and adds meaning to the middle of  The story of immigration acquires a wholeness with the ending and  becomes an integrated and meaningful description of the phenomenon. ending should not be viewed  as the final stage of the process.  However, the  The end in this  narrative description is a beginning of a new process beyond, yet inclusive of, what has thus far been experienced.  The construction of this story is "optimally the  beginning of a continuing dialectic" (Cochran Rather  &  Claspell, 1987, p.  39).  than formulating a stage model in which the beginning of each stage  is marked by a sharp and almost definitive ending of the one preceding it, the findings of this study can be presented as a five-act play whose acts are interwoven by  into a gestalt.  certain features.  Each act is significantly, but never exclusively, marked  The main character of this play is, of course, the immigrant  woman. Act and  1 (themes 1-10) marks a strong sense of attachment to the homeland  whatever represents it.  resentment, strong.  It is characterized by feelings of loss, fear, anger,  blaming, insecurity and powerlessness.  Memories of the homeland are  The woman tends to cling to her past and is afraid to let go.  Her past  is the context, the background, in which she knows how to operate and live.  Her  future is unknown. The future.  play continues as the woman sets off on a journey into this unknown  Act 2 (themes 11-15) is marked by the woman's awareness of differences  and conflicts.  In this act the woman feels shocked, disillusioned, estranged, out of  place, in need of acceptance  and in need of a context in which to live and  markers by which to feel, think and act.  She throws herself on the mercy of  92  other people's (including her own parents) acceptance  of her, only to become more  conflicted. Act 3 (themes 16-19) presents the very powerful middle of the story and is characterized by an almost complete descent. her whole being becoming invalidated.  In this Act the woman experiences  She feels stripped of self-worth, identity,  direction and orientation, and of control and power.  Sense of defeat is among the  strongest of the emotions in this Act. The  play, however, does not end here.  Not unlike the dialectic beginning of  a synthesis, all that the woman has thus far experienced, inclusive of the rock-bottom  experience, seems to bear potential for growth towards an integrated  Act 4 (themes 20-22) marks a turning point and begins with a touch of  whole. realism.  In this Act the woman is compelled  into a more realistic review of  herself, others and the situation in the homeland.  Reflection upon the positive  aspects of her experience, as well as a more concrete detachment from to a process of self-validation. apparent  home lead  The need to change in some areas becomes  and willingness to do so is created.  Regaining some of her power, she  continues her journey in an opposite direction. The growth. and  final Act (themes 23-32) is marked by a strong sense of personal  It is a reconstruction of all that had been destroyed during the process,  much more.  Her sense of growth through  the experience not only encompasses  validation of self, reconstruction of identity, acceptance  (of self and others),  empowerment, sense of freedom, groundedness, openness and stability, it transcends all of the above, viewing the experience as a unique  and meaningful  spiritual  journal with no end. Significant in this five-act play is an approximate symmetry experience.  A few examples will illustrate this point.  Apprehension  (#3) is replaced by Openness to New Possibilities (#28). Self (#16) and  stands the theme Validation of Self (#23).  of the overall of Unknown  In place of Invalidation of  Search for Belonging (#10)  Feeling Out of Place (#13) are replaced by Sense of Acceptance  (#24).  Sense  93  of Insecurity/Instability (#5) transforms to Sense of Stability (#31) and so on. Moreover, by reflecting upon feelings associated with one, or more, themes, one can observe that most of the negative emotions felt at the beginning and the middle of the story are replaced, in the end, by positive emotions.  This symmetry brings  the experience to a completion, however, it should be noted that not all feelings go through  a complete  transformation.  Some feelings such as Missing Home and  Conflict with Parents only change in degree. throughout  Also, worthy of mention is that  the process relapses do take place and the woman may vacillate, from  time to time, in her emotions. Among the factors hindering the process of adjustment and/or misunderstood  by Canadians  or Canadian  are: feeling rejected  institutions, resentment  at being  forced out of one's country, conflict with parents, scope of differences with the mainstream society, language common  and financial difficulties (the latter two were not  across all interviews).  Some of the factors that facilitated the process are:  realizing similarities of cultures, language accomplishments, Canadians,  and skills acquisition, work and school  receiving understanding and acceptance from  others-especially  coming to grips with a more certain break-away from home, the  multicultural nature of the Canadian  society and the freedoms this society  provides—especially for women. Among the studies reviewed  in Chapter  II, those of Stonequist (1937) and  Adler (1975) seem to render the most support to the findings of this study. Stonequist examined the experience of immigration from and  a phenomenological  angle  assumed that the marginal person is only created when he or she experiences  the conflict of cultures inside himself or herself.  This, in a way, is reference to  the "being-in-the-world" concept as discussed in this study (Chapter II).  Stonequist  stated that the experience is marked by fear of the unknown, homesickness and loss in its initial stages. imaginations about  The immigrant,  Stonequist argued, is thrown into  what he or she has left behind.  present in Act 1 of the narrative description.  The above feelings are clearly  Sense of loyalty and attachment to  94  the homeland, however, seem to be more strongly emphasized in the findings of this study. study  This latter finding seems to support Westwood and Lawrance's (1987)  in which involuntary migration tends to strengthen attachment to the land of  origin and hinders the process of adjustment to the host country. Like Stonequist's (1937) "Marginal Man," the co-researchers of this study "depayse" and, to some extent, "declasse." no  point felt completely  Although  the women in this study, at  stripped of foots, for their emotional  roots remained strong to the end, the concept  felt  attachment to their  of "deracine" applies to them  inasmuch as according to Stonequist the deracine "has lost something of his former self and has not yet acquired a new and stable s e l f  (p. 6). Acts 2 and 3 of  the narrative description tell of a loss of context which, when turned inward, to  a loss of self and disorientation.  Stonequist also touched  leads  upon the sense of  struggle and defeat (theme #19) and argued that the immigrant blames others for his  or her own failure to adjust, concluding that the differences are too great to  bridge. Stonequist (1937) likened the stages of adjustment to "the protected environment of childhood, the widening adolescence, and the necessary  of social contacts and ensuing conflicts of  accommodations of maturity" (p. 122).  This  analogy  seems to fit the overall experience as described by the co-researchers where in Act 1 the woman seeks protection from the familiar, and in Acts 2 and 3 she becomes conflicted and confused  upon facing realities of both cultures and in Act 5 she  strives for personal growth.  Stonequist state that, in the end, the adjusted  immigrant finds herself or himself again and reconstructs a new concept a new place in society-a process which he referred to as "re-birth." to  fit the experience of the co-researchers in Act 5.  of self and  This seems  The women in this study are  seen to assume the role Stonequist coined "intermediary," which leads to an "accommodation and rapprochment" between the two clashing cultures. conclusion about the significance of understanding  Stonequist's  one's self and never denying one's  heritage in order for a successful adjustment to take place supports the women's  95  experience of re-affirming their roots (theme #32). There are also many similarities between the co-researchers  description of  factors affecting the process of adjustment and those described by Stonequist  (1937).  Both studies indicate that experience of rejection from the host society, lack of skills and  language, experience of great gaps between the two cultural orientations, lack  of emotional support from one's own cultural group are among hindering factors. Acceptance in a host culture via work and friendships, pride in one's accomplishments, language and skills acquisition and the experience of equality and freedom of cultures (i.e., pluralism/multiculturalism) are among facilitative factors discussed by Stonequist  as well as the women in this study.  Moreover, Stonequist  found that sense of identification with a meaningful movement or task significantly facilitates the process.  This view is supported in themes #29 and #30 of this  study in which the co-researchers and  discover meaning in their individual experiences  see their roles as significant in fulfilling a misison, either for themselves or for  others  (e.g., C R  2  said: " . . . . So there is a point to be here for  me, . . . maybe the point is that here I can have a voice and talk for those who have no voice there." Adler's (1975) alternative model of culture shock also seems to render some support to the findings of this study.  Adler, too, assumed that the individual is  forced to re-define his or her identity upon the awareness of cultural differences (Act 2).  Although ignoring the significant feelings of loyalty and attachment to the  homeland, Adler's  first stage (Contact) bears some resemblance to Act 1 and parts  of Act 2 inasmuch as the women in this study tend to look for "insulation," shelter and reinforcement  by clinging on to their past and to the familiar.  Sense  of similarity of cultures, however, does not come to the foreground of the women's perception  at any time in the first Acts  Stage 2 of Adler's  of the narrative description.  (1975) model (Disintegration) supports the findings of this  study as illustrated in Act 3 of the play. identity are felt most strongly in this Act.  Confusion and disorientation and loss of Stage 3 of Adler's model  96  (Reintegration) resembles,  to some extent, the experience of the co-researchers as  described in Act 2 of the play. 2) rejection and blaming  It is in this Act that, as Adler stated, (in Stage  of the host culture takes place.  It is important  to note  that neither Adler nor Stonequist place any emphasis on the experience of disillusionment with, and estrangement from, one's own cultural group, which has been a significant component of the women's experience in this study. Adler viewed the negative reactions of immigrants depicted in this Disintegration and Reintegration stages of his model as healthy and constructive for forming a basis for personal growth.  This dialectic approach seems to support the  findings of this study, since in Act 4 of the play the women are compelled to review and  themselves  and to begin striving for personal growth.  Stages  4 (Autonomy)  5 (Independence) of Adler's (1975) model render support to Act 5 of the  narrative description.  Sense of acceptance, strength and groundedness are among  experiences discussed in these two stages and resemble themes 24, 25 and 27 of this study.  Adler's study most significantly supports the theme Openness to New  Possibilities (#28).  A t this stage, stated Adler, "the self and cultural discoveries  have opened up the possibility of other depth  experiences" (p. 18) and the person,  having discovered meanings in situations (themes #29 and #30) feels ready and open to explore the diversity of other human beings, to explore new discoveries, to undergo further transitions and to be challenged again (very similar to what the co-researchers express in theme #28). and  As apparent  in the five Acts of the play  very similar to Adler's conclusion, the transitional experience begins with an  encounter  with a new culture and evolves into an encounter  with the self.  The  individual views the experience as an integrated gestalt and the process of growth continues. Stonequist's keen observation of the experience of immigration and  done in 1937  Adler's (1975) alternative perspective on the experience of culture shock support  much of the findings of this study. particularly to women, and based  However, I believe that this study, pertaining  on the as-told description of their experience, adds  97  to  the richness of both studies and unfolds a more detailed understanding of the  many steps involved in the process.  This is particularly true of the phase which  Stonequist refers to as "re-birth" and Adler calls Autonomy and Independence.  This  study, via themes #23-32, presents a much more detailed description of the adjustment  phase in the experience of immigration.  Atkinson, Morten and Sue's (1979) Minority Identity Development (MID) model, also, bears resemblance  to certain significant aspects of the experience of the  co-researchers as presented in the narrative description.  Stage  1 of the MID model  (Conformity) does not apply to the co-researchers of this study, since as confused as they had felt, at no point did they view their own group's characteristics as sources of shame.  The confusion and conflict emerging in the Dissonance  stage of  this model (Stage 2) are present in Acts 2 and 3 of the play and are most apparent in themes #15 (Conflict with Parents) and #19 (Sense study/ A t Stage  of Struggle) of the  3 of the MID model (Resistance and Immersion) the individual  rejects the host culture and returns to his or her own group, held views in search of acceptance  and self-worth.  These reactions are present in parts of Acts  2 of the play and are most apparent  1 and  in themes #10 (Search for Belonging) and  #13 (Feeling Different and Out of Place). The his  next stage, Introspection, is typified by the individual's discontent with  or her own group views.  Themes #11 (Sense of Estrangement) and #12  (Superficiality of Connections) seem to resemble strongly expressed in this study. model, (Atkinson, Morten & his  this discontent, but are more  Also in the Introspection stage of the MID  Sue, 1979) the individual is seen to feel torn between  or her desire for autonomy and that of allegiance to her or his group.  For  the women in this study, this inner conflict is most strongly felt in the theme labelled Conflict with Parents, since parents most apparently represent views held by the women's own group. seen to go through  Moreover, in the Introspection stage the individual is  a process of selection based  individual members of the host culture.  on his or her experience with  Similar to the above process, in Act 4 of  98  the narrative description, the woman goes through and  a process of reviewing herself  others and chooses those positive experiences which lead to a more realistic  understanding  of herself and others in the overall experience.  Themes 23, 24, 25,  26, 27 and 32 are present in the last stage of Synergetic Articulation and Awareness of the MID model, where the individual establishes his or her identity, is led to a strong sense of self-worth, self-confidence, self-fulfillment, autonomy and freedom of choice, feels proud  of her or his cultural background and feels accepting  of individuals regardless of cultural differences or similarities. Being primarily a model of identity development, the MID model has, naturally, emphasized that particular component of the experience of minority group members, who may or may not be first-generation immigrants.  Identity  development, though one of the most significant elements of the co-researchers' experience, constitutes one aspect of the overall experience of immigration. Therefore, I believe, the findings of this study encompasss a wider scope of experiences and add to the significance of Atkinson, Morten and Sue's (1979) observations. The  three models of acculturation discussed in the beginning of Chapter II  touch upon segmented aspects of the overall experience of adaptation. Goldlust and Richmond (1974) observed the three factors of pre-immigration situational determinants  that the adaptation process is affected by  conditions, length of residence in Canada and  in the host culture (e.g., pluralism).  factors in the adjustment  For example,  Among  facilitative  process of the women in this study coming to grips with  the reality of the situation in Iran and the multicultural nature of the Canadian society seem to resemble the factors discussed by the above authors. Berry's (1980) findings resemble those of this study inasmuch as a phase of conflict follows contact with the mainstream society and the person feels an urge to act and to adapt.  However, Berry viewed adaptation as the process through  the individual tries to reduce the conflict--a rather hedonistic approach. adaptation and adjustment,  which  Whereas  as described by the co-researchers in this study, goes  99  far beyond a mere reduction of conflict (though it may begin into a meaningful process  with it) and develops  of growth and integration.  Padilla (1980) developed a typology  model of acculturation.  He categorized  as highly acculturated those immigrants who have: a) low ethnic cultural awareness (e.g., lack of familiarity with ethnic language and/or history) and b) low ethnic loyalty (e.g., preference  for American food over food and/or choice of English as  language spoken at home).  This view, together  with that of Goldlust and Richmond  (1974), in which the authors measured acculturation partly by measuring the transference new,  of the immigrant's loyalty from his or her country  of origin to the  are both rejected in the themes and the narrative description emerging from  this study.  The women's stability in this country  is seen to be strongly connected  to a re-affirmation of their roots and their cultural heritage.  Loyalty to the  homeland, in their case, remains strong to the end.  Implications for Future  The ways.  findings  Research  of this study can be expanded upon in a number of different  One way is to replicate this study interviewing a larger group of Iranian  women and continuing until reaching saturation-the point at which no new themes emerge.  Researchers may also find it useful to replicate this study with a  different group of immigrant co-researchers. may  be interviewed.  Married  Men or women from other countries  women or immigrant families may be looked at.  Moreover, other approaches may be used.  For example, researchers  useful to use the Critical Incidents method (Flanagan,  may find it  1954) to investigate more  specifically those factors which facilitate or hinder the process  of adjustment for  immigrants. I believe, however, that questions study-from the content and  investigation.  which emerge from the findings of this  of the story itself-are the ones most worthy of attention  For example, researchers  may want to investigate whether the  100  descent, the rock-bottom  experience (depicted in Act 3 of the narrative description),  is a necessary component of the adjustment to hit the rock-bottom  process.  In other words, does one have  in order to have a successful adjustment  yes, is the scope and degree pattern of adjustment?  of descent a determinant  If so, how?  questions, I believe, can sharpen Also emerging from  and to grow?  If  of actor in the degree and  Finding answers to the above research  the findings of this study.  the findings of this study is the question of age in  relation to the phenomenon of immigration.  One research question worthy of  investigation is: would the process have a different ending if the women were at a different stage of their lives.  Or, would investigating the experiences of a mixed  group (age-wise) of women render similar results? The  results of a similar study using a group of voluntary immigrants  in this  country may also add to the significance of this study and provide more understanding of the phenomenon of involuntary immigration versus that of a voluntary one.  Another  key finding of this study has been the significance of  self-validation/invalidation in the process under investigation. wish to use the existential-phenomenological approach  Future researchers may  to investigate the meaning of  the above depth experiences for those who migrate to this country.  I believe that  investigating research questions discussed above (and many more that may emerge from  the results of this study) will cast significant light on the experience of  immigration for cross-cultural counsellors and researchers.  Implications for Counselling  For the counsellor, understanding one's client is the starting point of any successful counselling experience. feeling misunderstood  by Canadians  Apparent  and Canadian  hindering factor in the process of adjustment misunderstood  from the results of this study is that institutions had been a significant  for the co-researchers.  Feeling  is also discussed as a major contributing factor which led the  101  co-researchers into feeling invalidated. counsellors can understand  use  Therefore, I believe, that cross-cultural  this study as significant material that can help them more fully  their immigrant clients, particularly those with similar backgrounds to  that of the co-researchers of this study. The  results of this investigation have been presented in a narrative form, in  which the process has  a beginning, a middle  and  an end.  Hence, it is very  important that the counsellor assess the point at which his or her client is when presenting his or her problem.  In other words, it is crucial to make interventions  at appropriate times in the process. discover meaning from  For example, trying to help the client  his or her experience (Act 5) may  prove ineffective  futile if the client is still struggling with his or her sense of loss and to the homeland (Act 1). first, acknowledge and Having  understood  An  and  attachment  appropriate intervention, in this case, would be to,  deal with the loss, allowing the client to grieve over it.  the client's feelings and  behaviours depicted in the beginning Acts  of the description, the counsellor can, then, become effective in helping the client realize his or her strengths. of the overall process.  The  Also, validation of the self is an  with the client similar experiences and  Only  after having  processes, can  understanding  himself or herself, emphasizing  according to his or her own  values, and  the client's past, helping  similarities of cultures, sharing helping the client change  choice.  "walked" (and not rushed) the client through  the counsellor help the client extract meaning from  Based on the co-researchers' own  these  the experience.  descriptions, this final process, of viewing the  experience as meaningful, completes  the process of adjustment.  meaning in the experience is therapeutic and component of the counsellor's intervention. may  component  counsellor can become a significant agent in facilitating  this process of validation by: respecting and the client understand  important  Hence, discovering  is to be viewed as an  The  counsellor, at an  even want to share with his or her client the themes and  important  appropriate time, narrative  description of this study, since according to all the co-researchers the mere telling  102  of their stories and discussing the themes and the narrative description was a valuable process which sharpened brought  their insight into the overall experience and  into it yet another meaning. As  for myself, listening to, reflecting upon, and writing about, these stories  have helped me  to feel even more grounded in Canada and have added so much  more to my experience of immigration, giving it a new meaning.  Summary  The  purpose  of this study was to understand  of immigration as it is lived.  The question asked  immigration for Iranian women?  was: What is the experience of  To answer this question, an  existential-phenomenological approach migrated  the meaning of the experience  was used.  Four Iranian women who had  to Canada and were feeling settled in this country were interviewed.  During the first set of interviews the co-researchers were asked experience, telling the story from Canada.  the beginning to the time they felt adjusted in  During the first interviews the researcher was fully present to the person  of the co-researcher.  Using questions appropriate to each co-researcher and the  content of her story, the researcher probed experience. The  to describe their  for understanding the meaning of the  The first interviews were audio-taped and transcribed into protocols.  protocols were analyzed according to the method described by Colaizzi (1978).  Significant statements  were extracted from  each protocol and arranged in three  groups labelled "beginning," "middle" and "end."  Using the process of creative  insight, meaning units were formulated for each statement. to all protocols were, then, grouped  Meaning units common  together and labelled as themes.  The themes  were organized in an approximately sequential manner and were, then, woven into a narrative description of the experience of immigration. During four audio-taped validation interviews the themes and the narrative description were verified by all the co-researchers.  Suggested  changes were  103  incorporated  into the final results (Chapter IV), which were, in turn, validated  through a short third set of interviews. The  narrative description, which was  created on  the basis of the thirty-two  themes emerging from the protocols, tells the story of immigration as lived by co-researchers. the experience  Further  reflection upon the cluster of themes and  which started with an  play presented  a sense of loss and  disorientation, reviewing  a flowing symmetry of the  conflicts, a sense of self-invalidation  oneself and  the experience,  story, though supported by  more profound and  and  a number of previous  studies, provides  field.  As  an  a cross-cultural counsellor, I found the study personally meaningful.  and  found completion in a  complete picture of the meaning of the experience  professionally fulfilling and  experiences  stability.  adds to the richness of available literature in the  woman and  steps  attachment to the homeland, continued into  of personal growth, discovering meaning and The  and  The  awareness of differences and  process  the description of  produced a play whose five acts each highlighted significant  involved in the process.  the  a  of immigration immigrant and  104  References  Adler, P. S. shock.  (1975). The transitional experience: A n alternative view of culture Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 15, 13-24.  Alegrfa, C. (1984). 11-13.  Interview with Claribel Alegrfa.  Index on Censorship, 13(4),  Arasteh, R. (1964). The struggle for equality in Iran. 18(2), 189-205. Atkinson, D. R., Morten, G., & Sue, D. W. minorities: A cross cultural perspective.  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King (Eds.), Existential-phenomenological alternatives for psychology (pp. 3-17). New York: Oxford University Press. Weinberg, A. A. (1961). Migration and belonging, a study of mental health and personal adjustment in Israel. The Hague: M. Nijhoff. Westwood, M. J., & Lawrance, S. (1987). Uprooted: towards a counsellor understanding of the refugee experience. Unpublished manuscript, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C. Wright, R.  (1987).  Zonis, M. (1976). Press.  Escape  to Canada.  Saturday Night, 102(5), 44-51.  The political elite of Iran.  Princeton, NJ: Princeton University  107  APPENDIX  A  108  Interview #1--Case CR,.  A:  Do you now  feel more settled in Canada?  More adjusted?  CR,: Yes I do. It's not like I'd really like to stay here, but I'm more settled that five years ago. It's much better. A: Okay. You just start from was it like? What were  when you were going to come out of Iran.  What  CR,: I came out in September 1979. It was the first time I was leaving home, leaving my parents, leaving Iran to be alone. So the time I was coming-it was really hard for me. Like, I had my sister here and I knew my parents were coming, but still I was alone, it was really hard for me to be alone. So the time I was leaving-it was really hard. I knew I had to leave all my friends-and I thought I wouldn't be back for a long time. And I really loved Iran. I was not very old, but still, I loved it there. I spent most of my life there. So it was really hard for me to leave. And I thought, well, first, I thought: "okay, I'll come here, I'll stay and then I'll go back if the situation stays." And when I left, it wasn't very bad. But still when you are leaving . . . everybody at the airport-oh! It was very hard! So I was coming-I was 17 when I left, I was a kid at that time—and I had lots of dreams about Iran. I had good times. I had good friends. So I did not want to leave! It was mostly my parents who wanted me to come. A: CR,, you're telling me mean by that?  you had lots of dreams-can you tell me  what you  CR,: Like, I had good friends there, I had good times, when you're young you have good friends to be with, to go out with, you know, you skip classes, and it was really fun for me. I had good friends and we were really close. It was hard for me to leave all of them behind, so when I left A:  You said that your parents wanted you to leave  CR,: A:  Yeah, they wanted me Can you talk about that?  CR,: I said then I I don't A:  to come  Okay. My sister was here. First, they asked me if I wanted to go. So "no, I don't." But then it got serious and I thought more about it and really didn't want to go. And I thought: "No! I really don't want to go! want to leave here!"  What was the feeling you had when you thought "God, it's serious now?"  CR,: It was very bad. It was awful! I didn't want to leave, I didn't want to, first of all, I don't know, I felt very bad. Like, the night before I left, it was awful for me. I had all my friends over and I was crying and I said: "I don't want to go!" But then my father and mother said: "It's better for you to leave. You cannot study here. It's much better for you-much better future for you there, especially when your sister is there." But as I said, when you are young you think . . . and the situation in Iran wasn't still very very bad and I thought: "It's always going to be like this, it's always going to stay" and I have always  109  enjoyed my life in Iran--you see I never thought about the future-what's going to happen next-what will the future be. I thought this is life-it's enjoying yourself! So that really bothered me. And I was young. I was seeing someone. I didn't want to leave him. And that really hurt. Well, I was young and right now when I think about it, it feels so stupid but at that time you didn't want to come. Anyway, I went through all of this and then my parents said they're also going to come. A: CR,, when you say "all of that," I can feel your experience. Can you use an image or a metaphor to tell me what it was like-when you were leaving, what was it like? Use a metaphor if you can. CR,: Ah, it was like, I knew I could go back, but it was like, when you are leaving something, there's something that you are losing. There was something, you had something and you are losing it, and you know that it is hard to get it back. There was a girl working for us in our home, she had been with us for 20 years and we were very close and the most important thing for me was losing her. She used to tell me: "I know, if you go, I know you're not coming back. I won't see you again!" So, right now, still now, the most important person I really miss is her. I haven't seen her for five years! She really, we really well she was 11 years older than me but she was like my mother, we were really close, and I really loved her. She really cared for me, she was always there for me. And I know, right now, I think back and I can see that it really bugs her. You see, as a kid I always was cared for (by her). I told her to do this for me, to do that for me, and really didn't want to leave her, I didn't want to leave her, and my friends and Iran and everything. So I came out of Iran, and I was crying the whole time. It's seven hours to London or something. And I was crying the whole time. It was my first time on my own like that. I didn't know what the outside world was like. I'd never been alone. Always my parents were around me, whenever I needed them. So it was kind of scary, in a way I was glad that nobody was around me at that time-not that I was leaving Iran, but that I was alone . . . that "I can take care of myself . . . independence . . . but in a way I was scared, I was hurt, I A:  Hurt?!  CR,: I didn't want to come--I don't know how to say it. It was painful! When I left I was glad that my parents aren't around me, I can do things on my own-I can be independent-but on the other hand, I didn't want to leave, I didn't want to have that! I thought: "I still have a lot of time for that independence." But Iran and everything else back there was more important for me than independence. And you know the life I had back there with my girlfriends . . . you know parents won't let them grow and . . . you know what I mean? They're always there . . . they don't let them become independent . . . to take care of themselves . . . they always shut them down. So I had that feeling, even till two or three years ago . . . it was . . . till I Had to prove to them that I am grown up or something, so it was always them around me. Anyway, I came to London and I had to wait for another flight to come to Vancouver. Then I came here-I was so excited! I hadn't seen my sister for four months, I missed her. So I came. The first day I was happy. I didn't feel . . . I said: "Okay. I'm out!" I thought "I'm going to stay here for four months, then in the summer I'm going to go back, visit my friends and everybody"--so I had that hope in me. I came with the hope that every summer I will go back. I came. I visited my sister--my brother-in-law came to pick me up. My sister and my aunt were all here but they didn't come to the airport to pick me up. I was kind of upset. I thought: "where are they?" I expected to see them there,  110  but my flight was two hours late. then they had to go back.  So that's why they came to the airport and  Anyway, the first day, it was really good. They showed me everywhere and so on, but the first week passed and the second week I started to feel homesick. I started to say, "Okay, so this is Vancouver!" There was nothing special, I didn't know anybody! My sister, they knew some people, but they were all old. They were not my age. So I had no friends here. I couldn't talk with people, I couldn't understand English very well. I couldn't understand television. I felt homesick. My aunt was going to classes in the morning. Same with my sister. They were going to school and I had to stay alone the whole morning. I sometimes watched T.V. or wrote letters. That was my only thing. My hope was writing letters to all my friends and getting excited about what's happening back there, to see what they are doing as a group, and I kept telling them: "I'm going to come back in the summer, I'm going to come and see you guys." So when a couple of weeks passed, my parents called and said they were going to come in a month or two. And I think what really got into me was that . . . my sister, they weren't settled down. They were deciding on going to the States, moving from one place to another-that really gets into you-and you move from your home town and you leave your home-if you go somewhere and settle down, it's okay, but if you don't know what's going on--whether you are going to the States or you are staying, which school are you going to,' you don't know English-it was hard for me. First, they decided to go to the States. They did everything. But then they decided to stay here. Then we moved from one home to another in North Vancouver, then to another one, then I went to a school, the same school that my aunt and my sister were going to for English. I went there for four months. Then I started to know some Greek people. There was another Iranian girl there. So I started to know some people. But I couldn't communicate because they didn't understand English well and I didn't know English well. Most of them were older than me, so it was much better than the first days, but I still felt upset—I wanted to go back. A:  So you still  missed  CR,: I still missed Iran! I still do!! But at that time it was, it was about two months that I started to go to that school, but I still missed Iran. I started to get to know a Greek girl. Her name was Nina, we went out together and we were getting close. But you see, at that time my parents were not here and my sister really didn't let me go out much, most often, so I couldn't go out with her—I didn't have any permission to go out at night or anything, because my sister would say: "Your parents are not here, I have to be careful. I am responsible and I have to take care of you." So I just saw her at school. Well, once she came to our place and once I went over. Anyway, I went to that school for two months. Then my parents came and by then I missed them very much so I was glad to see them. It was some kind of a change for me. I spent a lot of time with them. We went to places together. But we still didn't know anybody. Like I didn't have any Iranian friends and I really missed that. Because at home I had lots of friends. And I had to talk to people! I had to talk to someone my own age! And you know, it was really hard. A:  How  about Canadian  friends?  CR,: At that time I really couldn't speak good English and I couldn't communicate with them-I couldn't tell of my feelings-especially when you, even now I can't—they don't understand. But when you can't even speak the language, you can't explain to them at all! You know what I mean? And the school I was going to-there were hardly any Canadians. They were all immigrants, not even  Ill  immigrants, they were mostly tourists and visitors-yes, it was hard. And then, as I said, my mom and dad came and we were doing things together. And I told you that my sister and her husband were going' through difficulties at the time, you know, not having jobs, not having settled, and so on and so forth. And I went through the same things. You see, before I came here I hardly knew what life was. I didn't know what money meant. Do you know what I mean? When I came I wanted to spend-I wanted things for myself, I wanted to buy things. And my sister kept telling me: "You have to be careful. Life is different here. You cannot have everything. You cannot afford everything." That upset me! It felt as if I could not have anything! First I had to move out of my country without wanting to, and now I was told that I was going to be deprived of things I wanted for myself. I remember very well that when I had first come I told my sister that I was going to buy myself a nice bedroom with everything! But you know my sister said: "You are still dreaming! Wake up! This is not Iran. Things are different here. You have to be careful how you spend!" And it really, it suddenly got into me: "What am I doing here?! Why did I come?! I had the best things in life back there, how come that suddenly changed?!" A:  So you were starting to 'question  CR,: I was questioning myself, the situation-I was a child! I didn't know much really. Right now as I think back, I really didn't know what was going around me, I don't know how to explain it. I was naive, I was real naive, and I started to question myself: "Why did I come?" I wanted to go back. I remember, sometimes I cried alone-I went to my room and cried. I really felt homesick. Whenever I told my sister she tried to help me, but there was nothing she could do. I really wanted to go back, but it was too late! I'd already come and it was almost three months. I couldn't go just after three months! So I cried . . . and sometimes I talked to my mother on the phone and told her that I missed home and that I wanted to go back, and my mother kept saying: "We are coming pretty soon. Please don't say you want to come back. Wait and see-you'll forget when you start going to school." And that went for four months. I still felt very homesick. I didn't know anybody. I hardly had any friends. My only hobbies were to watch television and understand nothing or to go shopping and buy nothing! (laughs). So that, was the only things I did—it was very frustrating-real hard! For me, leaving home and being alone, well my sister was there, but she wasn't like my mom, being there always to do everything for me--that was good actually! But she wanted me to do everything myself and that was hard for me. I was coming to a world that I didn't know anything about. I hardly knew people and I had to do things by myself. I had to go to the bank. Withdraw money, be responsible for money-I had hardly ever done anything like that before. A: So you're saying that you missed the safety and security that you had at home. CR,: A:  Yeah, I missed that. And you were here to deal with reality  now.  CR,: But I didn't want to accept that! At that time I didn't want to be independent! I didn't really know what it meant! How it feels to be independent, how free you feel after you have your independence! You know, I thought: "For now, I have to be dependent." Because I didn't trust myself! I didn't have the self-confidence that would assure me that I could take care of myself, well especially here, in another world, in another culture, with another people! I didn't have that self-confidence, I didn't have the trust in myself to become independent.  112  A:  So you didn't accept it.  CR,: I didn't accept it. I said: "I have to depend on somebody, there has to be always someone to take care of me! Then my parents came and they were protective. They were taking care of me, so I did feel good. You see, I was the last child and I was spoiled, kind of. I still am! Sometimes I am overly protected. I want to get away from that! Anyway, one day me and my sister were shopping and we met an Iranian lady. She found out that we were Iranian and she told us that she was holding a New Year party that if we didn't know anybody we could go to her party. So we did go and met some people. That was the first time we got to know some Iranians. And I met some of my own age, my own group. I started to make friends with them that night. I was there for about three to four hours and I kept asking for their phone numbers. I wanted to be friends with them. I needed friends! I needed to be friends with them! I did meet some people over there and they would sometimes come to my place or I would go over. But my mother did not really trust me, then. You see when I was back home (laughs) I was going out with that guy, but I was hiding everything from her, and then when I came, she found out everything and she couldn't trust me any more! She would not allow me to go out at night or she would not let me do this or that! When I came to Canada, I was smoking and my sister and my mother didn't know, but after I started school they found out, and so you see . . . Well, when I got to know these people, I did go out with them. Mostly to movies in the mornings. But, you see, I wasn't in school and they were, they had been living in Canada for three, four years . . . Well, then I went to Columbia College in January. It was there where I got to know some Iranians. I got to know A. (her best friend) and everybody else there. So at that time when I started to go to the college I felt a lot better, because I knew more people. But still, . . . and then I said: "Okay, I'm here! There's nobody to take care of me. I can do whatever I want!" A:  Can you elaborate on that a little?  CR,: You see, after four months that I had been here, I thought, "okay. My parents are not here," that's before they came, I was alone. M y sister was here, but she really couldn't concentrate on me so much. Then I felt: "I have al these friends. I know a lot of people. I can be with them. I want to go out. I can do the things I couldn't do in the last four months!" So I felt a little bit more free. So, now I wanted to have that independence. I wanted to be free. I was happy then. I wasn't in my childhood. I was excited. I was full of life now! I still missed it. But you know how young women are like. To be happy and to be with people. To know people, to start learning some English. And, I hardly concentrated on my studies. I was just, what do you call it, . . . (trans.: childlike excitement, in a playful mood). Let me explain: I was in a place very unlike high schools back home. Where you're instructred and pushed to study. Here I was on my own! And I didn't understand how it feels not to study, I didn't feel the consequences of not concentrating on your school work. I thought: "Well, there's nobody to tell me to study. And my parents won't find out if I failed a course. So I really wasn't into studying at that time. I was just making friends, I don't know, I didn't want to study. I wanted to live! I spent most of my time in the cafeteria. I missed my classes because there was no one to make me study. And always in my life, there had been someone to push me into studying or into doing things. At that time there wasn't anybody! Well, when I came home, I spent some time studying. But at school I felt like a grown-up who can do whatever she wants. And I felt free to choose not to study. "If that's what I want," I said to myself, "that's okay. Who cares anyway? If I miss a class or two, it's my problem and there's nobody to tell me what to do, to push me. There's no punishment or anything."  113  A: Tell me what was the difference between the system you were used to in Iran and the one here? CR,: Well a big difference. I was in grade 11 in Iran. And you know it is, there they make you take courses and you have to pass them. They really push you and the teachers are strict, real strict. You have to study hard. You can't miss classes, they keep in close contact with your parents and so on. But suddenly I came to a different school system. Columbia College was for Student Visa students. It was completely different. I was all on my own in school. The teachers wouldn't push you. They would just give you assignments and you know what colleges are like-you are on your own. You either do it or you fail. And it's all up to you. So there was no external pressure, and that was good, for a while I felt good. I felt I could be on my own then. And you see, most of the Iranian students there were older than I. They were around 24-25 and I was only 18. There were young me there and I was so excited to be among them. I felt like an adult. I thought: "I belong in their society. I'm an adult now!" Well when I was back home my sisters were older than I was and they were both married. I was the youngest and they always thought of me as a child. They could never accept me in their circles, in their group. If they did . . . right now I feel that most 14-15 year old Iranian girls go through the same thing. They are not children, but they aren't adults either. I always felt older than my age. Like when I was 18, I felt like in my twenties. I always wanted to be part of an older group, part of the adult society. But they had difficulty accepting me because of my age. So in college I felt glad to be part of the adult society. They were treating me as a person. Do you know what I mean? You have respect, you're somebody! A:  So you felt significant.  CR!: I felt I'm a somebody! They have respect for me. They are polite to me. The guys respect me not because my parents are around me and they feel they have to respect me, but because of me!! I felt like somebody. They talked to me. They sometimes shared their secrets with me. And I felt good. I felt I belonged to a group! I was being an adult, and that really felt good. A:  CR,, these were only Persian  guys?  CR,: It was only with Persian guys, with Persian people. I felt liek that amongst Persians. But still, at that time I was trying to keep myself busy so that I would not think of going back. I was trying not to think about Iran and to keep myself busy. I was trying to think of some other things besides Iran. And then my parents came and told me that I cannot go back for the summer. That I had just come. No, they didn't let me go back to Iran. Because they thought I had just come and had been here only for four months and that it was too soon. They told me that nothing had changed since I left. They thought that I should at least stay for a year and then go back. So I did not go that year. And I had lots of fantasies about going back. I had been fantasizing about what I would do, where I would go and about seeing my friends. I was here in September and I wanted to go back in June sometime, it was about eight months or something. A: CR,, you tell me you were trying not to think about Iran. you-what happened when you did think about Iran?  I want to ask  CR,: I felt homesick. I wanted to be there at that time. And I thought about it and about my not being therre and my not going there. It really bothered me!  114  A: What was it that you felt when you thought: "I can't go there!" What was the feeling you had? I know it bothered you, but there must be something else there-can you use another metaphor? What was it that you felt? CR,: A:  About not going back? Yes  CR,: Uh, I don't know. It felt real terrible, I don't know how to explain it (long pause). I felt like I cannot have (pause), I felt like I cannot have what I want. I can't (raises voice) I have lost it! Like it's not there for me any more! I cannot go, you know for about two years I had this hope in me that I'm going back, that I still can go back. If not this summer, maybe next summer, or the one after that. So I always had that hope in me. But then when I thought I couldn't go back right then I wished so bad that I could. I would say to myself: "Oh! I wish I was there right now! I wish I could see my friends, I wish I could see my sister." And I felt like just wanting to be alone, at that time when I thought that I cannot go back I felt like being alone somewhere and screaming. You know what I mean? Like, as if you were in a jail and you want to get out of there, but you can't. They won't let you. They say, "next year!" You want to tear up everything and get away from it! But there's nothing you can do. You cannot come out of there. So you want to scream! You want to say: "Please let me go! Let me free!" And that's how I felt. Then I thought, Okay. This way I'm hurting myself. There's nothing I can do about it. I am here. Whether I like it or not. You see I did not have much money of my own to buy my ticket and go home. To decide for myself. I was younger and I just couldn't decide for myself. So I thought, "well I can't go back. The only thing that I can do here is to try to find friends and to keep busy. So that's all I could do at that time. That's all I felt I could do. But it really hurt me. I was really upset. And as I said, my sister and her husband were going through a lot. They had a lot of difficulties and they weren't settled. They didn't know what to do, whether to stay or not. Whether job opportunities were better here or in the States. And they didn't know what to do. Once they decided to stay and they bought a house in North Vancouver. We moved in . Then they decided they wanted to go to Richmond. And my parents would come to visit and go back, they were here and there. So then we moved to Richmond. I lived with my sister then. I was in Columbia College and much happier, with more friends. And I was a bit more independent by that time. I was doing more and more things on my own. And I was glad about it. But still when there was a problem, I had difficulty facing it. I had to go to my sister. I couldn't solve my problems by myself because it hadn't been very long since I had begun to be on my own. It was always my parents who dealt with my problems. I wasn't used to the freedom and independence. They they decided to go to Richmond. And for you when you are young and you go to another country and you are not settled, moving from one place to another, it's a hassle! Like, for two months, the second month I was here, they were living in a house in North Van. that they had rented. Then they decided to go to the States, they gave back the house. Then they changed their minds. They said they're not going. The house was already gone. What they decided to do was to go to a motel for a week. We went to the Canyon Court Motel and then my brother-in-law thought this is a good place till they buy a condo. in North Van. So we were there for two months. It was my sister, my brother-in-law, their children, my aunt, her child and me! There were two rooms. My aunt, myself and my cousin in one room. And the rest in the other room. And the children were young, one was three and the other was two and when they got together they screamed! I'm telling you! In a small motel room, they screamed and yelled. I was really on the verge of having a nervous breakdown! I couldn't stand it any more! So whenever the children were  115  together, I would spend my time in the other room. I didn't want to be in the same room with the children because they really bugged me. They were fighting all the time. Fighting and screaming! That was the hardest time I went through in these five years. We were not settled. We didn't have a job. I wasn't going to school. I didn't know anybody. I was living in a motel in a small room. I could hardly speak any English, I had just started to understand a little bit of T.V., we had no entertainment. I couldn't go to the movies. Imagine, a young girl. She wants to have some entertainment, but nothing! Nothing that a young girl could do by herself. I didn't know around. I didn't know anybody. Nothing! My only thing was going to school, staying in, actually the only entertaining program that we had was going to McDonald's! That was the only fun we had! A: CR,, I have this image of you when you said "in jail," I have this image of you being boxed in, being trapped? CR,: I was! My sister was very upset about this. She would say, well we are going through this, I don't want you to go through it with us. But I had no other choice! I couldn't live by myself, I couldn't go back. And my parents had said: "Whatever your sister does, wherever she goes, you go with her, because you're young" and so on-I had no other choice. I had to tag along with them and they were upset because they didn't want me to go through the same things they did. And that was hard! A: you  Yousaid that you had no other choice. Can you tel me how that felt? didn't have any other choice-how did it feel when you realized that?  That  CR,: Well, at that time, I really didn't understand. I said, "I'll have to tag along with them." I didn't want to, but I would say, "that's okay! I have no other choice." I always thought: "What would happen if . . ." I mean, I wished, I dreamed that it would have been nice if I could have my parents here. We'd have a house. I'd be in my own house to be able to do what I wanted to. To be more settled, you know, that choice I did not have! Or the choice of going back to Iran, where I had a place, I had friends and everything. Or at least to decide and to go to the States and settle there. You know, I wanted to settle down! I was tired of moving from place to place! And I hated that motel! Whenever I pass that place, I don't even want to look at it!! Not only me, even my sister and my aunt . . . it was the worst time we'd all been through. They were new here too. They didn't know what to do. They came here on decisions, because they thought my brother-in-law's business was good then . . . but then he thought that the States was getting better. His brother was there-that's why they thought of going there. But then they stayed. You know he got all these ideas from other people. He didn't know here. It was his first time to work out of the country (Iran). So from other people . . . that's why they made all these decisions. And I was caught in them-I had to tag along with them. And it really bothered me. Oh! It was so hard! A: CR,: fault. A:  CR,, I have a sense  that what you are saying is that it felt  It felt very unfair! It wasn't their fault though. She had her own life too.  kind of unfair.  It wasn't my  sister's  Who's fault was it?  CR,: Well, at that time I thought it was my parents' fault. But now, when I think about it, I think it was nobody's fault. Because they wanted me to be happy. They wanted me to be outside of Iran, because they knew what was going to happen. They didn't want me to go through all of this, but they didn't  116  want me to stay there either. Because they said: "you're going to be much happier there." And they thought that since I had passed the age of 14-15 I could accept things easier. A n d that I don't really need them to be with me all the time. So right now, I don't think it's anybody's fault. Because my sister had a life of her own. She had her own child, her own problems. She wanted to be settled. She was more upset than I was. My parents . . . then I thought it was my parents' fault. I thought: "they don't understand what I'm going through!" Well they didn't! But even at that time, I didn't blame them. No! I didn't blame anybody. I said "I don't want to go through all this, but this is the way it is." A l l my life I wanted to do things that made my parents happy. Even now, I don't want to hurt them. I still want to do things, if it makes them happy, I'm happy too. Not always though. There are things I want to do that wouldn't make them too happy. Now, I'll do them! But then . . . and I had some fears. From my mom and dad. First I didn't want to hurt them, then I had fears. I was scared of them . . . if they wanted me to do something and I did not do it, what would happen? Do you know what I mean? Like, I was smoking and I thought, what if my parents found out?! It's a fear that every young girl has. If you're not telling them, what will happen? So I had those kinds of fears in me. But when I came here I didn't reallyblame them. Because I thought if that's going to make them happy, or if they think there's a better future for me here in Canada, then that's where I should be! I still had the hope that I could go back to Iran one day and to visit my friends. Really, even after about eight months, I had letters. I thought: "I wish I could be there right now! I wish I could be with them, as happy as I used to be. I wish I could go to the same places with them!" Even when I made my own friends here I told them of how I wished to go back, and how I wanted to go back! For three years I would get so excited when talking about Iran! Whoever didn't like it back there, I wanted to fight with them. I would say: "No! That's your country! You have to love it! You have to go back!" I was full of energy for Iran! I always, mostly at the beginning, had arguments with some Iranians. Some of them had been here for a while. I didn't like the government at that time—when I left Khomeini had taken over, but I still wanted to be there! I didn't like his government, but I still felt that that's Iran! That's my country! So there were people who supported Khomeini's government and I was always into arguing and fighting with them. I would say: "You have no right to support them. Because you haven't been there for a long time. You don't know what's going on there!" Anyway, all those kinds of arguments that Iranians usually have. But I was always excited and I wanted to fight, not for, well I believed they shouldn't talk like that about something they didn't know. See, I had been there throughout the Revolution. They hadn't! They didn't know what people had been through, or how many people had died. They just sit here and say: "we needed the Revolution!" or "we didn't need the Revolution," or "the Shah was good," or "the Shah was bad!" All these stupid things that they have no idea about! And I did get mad at them. Well, that's beside the point anyway. So at the College I made friends, and I remember that whenever I talked to them about Iran and whenever they asked me how I felt I would say: "I want to go back. I miss my home. I still love my country and I am not happy here!" I wasn't! I did have friends then, but I wasn't happy as an 18 year old girl. There was something missing, and I didn't know what! A: CR,: A: CR,:  Do you know now? I still don't know.  "~ No.  I don't know, but there was something  missing!  Are you telling me that you didn't feel whole at that time? Yeah!  Yeah!  I didn't.  You see things were okay.  I had friends.  I  117  went out with them . . . I wasn't alone. But I wasn't having fun. Do you know what I mean? Like, having entertainment without having any fun. I wasn't happy. I would only say: "Okay. This is just to kill my time." Then I started to make a very close friend. I talked with her. She was Persian. I felt very close to her. Well for a few months we had met and knew each other but neither of us trusted the other . . . and she was going through . . . A:  How  long had you been in Canada?  CR,: Let me her. She was time . . . and didn't trust me A:  see-it was about five months. So I. started seeing her. I liked going to the same college. She was also going through a hard well, so was I. We would go for coffee occasionally. But she and I didn't trust her. Suddenly  What do you mean by trust?  CR,: To share feelings, experiences, secrets. She thought that, you know, we shouldn't talk to each other about ourselves. Let me tell you something else: when I came here, it was my first time away from my parents. It was my first time in a place with different people. When I was back home the people around me were mostly family and good friends. It was a rather closed setting. You are familiar with what goes around you. You know the people. „ You know the people are nice-they are sensitive like you. They don't take advantage of you. Then I went to Columbia College and met these people out of the blue. I thought them to be the same as the people I knew. Like my friends, my family, my relatives. I thought I could trust them just as much. I thought I could tell them everything, that they won't take advantage of you. That they are sensitive like you, that they are nice people, and that they like you the way you like them. Like a child, I trusted everybody. And I'm talking about Iranians. Well, the College hardly had any Canadians anyway. Besides, except for the last couple of years, I have spent most of my time in Canada with Iranians. All my close friends have been Iranian. Anyway, at that time, I thought of the people I met at the College as nice and trustworthy and I just went right on and shared with them my feelings and my secrets. I talked to them and I told them whatever I felt. And then I realized that they were taking advantage of me, or hurting me with what they say. A. knows what a bunch of stupid people they were! But at that time, I couldn't tell. I didn't have the ability to be a judge of character. Simply because I'd never had the chance to meet such different groups of people. As I said those around me were either young like myself, and they were real nice, or they were older and they were family and relatives. They were all people that I knew. A:  So there, you were familiar with the situation  CR,: Yes, and I knew what to do, how to behave. Here when I started College I thought I knew well how to behave and what to do. I thought this was the same society and I should treat these people the way I used to treat my friends back home. I didn't know people could be, they are not bad, no, I can't say that people are bad, but they are so different! I couldn't believe that people could be so different! A:  Did you feel betrayed?  CR,: Well, kind of, I can't say "betrayed." I felt used. I felt I had been used. Or I felt, I don't know, see, I used to tell them everything about myself and some took advantage of me, some didn't like me and some, who were more understanding, felt kind of sorry for my innocence. They understood my sensitivity  118  and innocence. And some of the nicer bunch felt close to me. Like, the ones who could understand you better knew that you don't have the evil in you, that you are an innocent person. So they, the good ones, like A, actually, she was the only good one! (laughs loud) No, A. and B. The rest . . . I couldn't count on. And because I did trust every one of them in the beginning, I got hurt. Some hurt me with what they said. For instance there was this one time that I remember, well, you see, when I was in Iran and went out with my friends, everybody treated everybody to something. Once I would treat them and once they would treat me, so it didn't really matter. And I started to do that in Columbia College. For instance if somebody wanted coffee, I would say, "okay, I'll buy it for you." And I did it without any thoughts in my mind. And with no expectations. And I had done that a few times until that day when everybody was there and I said: "who wants ice cream? I'm going to buy some ice cream!" Then I went and bought ten ice cream cones. I came back and gave each one a cone. I thought we were friends! Then one of the guys came to me and said: "You're trying to buy friends! You are trying to buy friends with your money! That's not good!" That really hurt! I felt awful! I felt so embarrassed! I felt shocked! People were so different from what I had known. Why wasn't it the same? How could they be different?! A l l my life, the only thing I never thought about was money. Spending money was always a pleasure for me. I had never never thought of buying people with money! I wasn't rich, or anything, but to go and . . . I could have had any friends I wanted! I didn't need to buy them! I did not tell him anything. He was actually a jerk! I'm sorry to have to say this, but he was! But as I said, I was just a kid and not a good judge of character. Some people around me knew him, but I though he was nice. Everybody who was nice to me in the beginning, I thought was a nice person. You know, just like a five year old child-you buy them candy, they think you're a wonderful person. I was like that. Do you know what I mean? I was like that! Then I got so hurt! I was hurting inside! I had tears in my eyes. I didn't know what to say. I didn't talk to him. Then I decided to talk to A. about it. Now we were kind of friends we were more close. And I did talk to her from time to time. Actually she was the only one I trusted and could talk to. She was the only one who understood me. So I talked with her and she comforted me and said: "I don't like him either. He doesn't know what he's talking about." She comforted me and made me feel better and since then I stopped talking to that guy. Actually I felt sorry for him. As I said, I was so naive and so sensitive. I felt good about everybody. I couldn't have that hate in me, you know, not to like. I didn't think of dislike. Because as I said the people around me in Iran were so different. A: CR,, I have a question. So you think if you had stayed in Iran and gone to university there you would have had the same kind of experience? CR,: I don't know. I don't know! Because I'd never gone, I don't know what the situation in universities back home were like. High schools are quite different than universities and colleges, as you know. So I can't imagine what it would have been like. It might have been the same. I might have gone through the same . . . of course I would, because universities are much bigger and you meet so many people—different kinds of people. And it's not the same as meeting your high school friends. They are different, it might have been the same in Iran but I have no way to know. Anyway, I got really shocked thinking how come people can be so different here. Why do they change when they come out? I still feel that! A: Okay. come out?  So you're saying that you felt they have changed  because  they have  119  CR,: At that time I thought they had. At that time I thought, "well maybe this had not been the case in Iran. Maybe they really have changed. Maybe they were different in Iran." So that's how I felt then. And with this guy, I was hurt. He was the first one that really hurt me. Then, I didn't go to that college any more. We moved to Richmond and then I went to Lord Byng High School on 16th Avenue. I went there for English and some grade 12 courses for university and so on. A: Before you get to that do you want to tell me a little more about your friend? You had just started talking about this Persian friend, and it seems to that  me  CR,: Yeah! I was very close toher. I still am! She was really the very best thing that was there for me at that time. Because, as I said, she was going through some difficulties. I was going through some, so we kind of found each other. She had good friends around her. She had a good sister and good friends. But our relationship was different. It lasted long. It was one of those very nice relationships. She could understand me. I could understand her. So we really had a good relationship. I used to talk with her and tell her all my problems. I still do. And she always tries to comfort me, to give me advice. I learned so many things from her. And I was happy being with her. I had never had such a friend! Even back home. Even with my friends back there. You see, even there, because I was such a sensitive girl, they were good girls, but I that sometimes even they used me. Actually this is what I think now, then I thought differently. Now, I think that maybe they didn't really want me for myself. Maybe I'm wrong, I don't know. But this girl, she was the only one, the only one I figured liked me for myself, because of who I was and who I am. Not because of whoever I am. She didn't and doesn't care whether I'm this or that or rich or poor, you know, what people sometimes want you for. Anyway, she's always liked me because of who I am. And she never expected too much of me. She was always understanding. She was always comforting to me and I always felt happy with her. I was happy with her. A:  Do  you  think her being there for you has helped you  settle in Canada?  CR,: It did! It did! It really did! Actually I never thought about it that way. But now, as I thought about it, I think it did. Like, I felt, when I was with her, just being with her made me feel I was somebody. She had the most respect for me. She treated me like a sombody, like an adult. Youknow, as I said, I learned a lot from her. And yes she was and has been instrumental in helping me settle in Canada. She was my best friend! When I felt upset I would talk to her and that helped me get things off my chest. It did help. And, of course, I started to meet more and more people, and I went to that high school. That high school! That was really hard for me too. It was the first time I was entering an all Canadian setting. Well, they were young, but still, I was going through something I had never experienced before! It was a year after I'd come. It was the first time I got into a Canadian society, you know what I mean? It was really hard! The first days, I was alone. I didn't know anybody in the school. I only went to my classes. I had lunch hour breaks by myself. I had lunch all by myself. I didn't talk to anybody. They were snobs. Well, they weren't really snobs. They just didn't seem to like strangers. You see, they had been going to that high school for some time. When they had been younger, since grade 9, they'd been together. So they'd built up their friendship. And I was new there. I was a grade 12 student they had just met. I was new to them. And I was also new to them because every time they looked at me, they thought of me as an Asian, that I am not Canadian, that I am not like them. They thought I am different. Then after two, three months  120  A:  CR,, did you feel different?  CR,: Mmmn, not really. I didn't. Well, I was shy. I've had that shyness since I was a child. I still do and that sometimes really bugs me. Because there are some things in life that you want to do or say and that shyness will not allow you. So you know what I mean? A n d at that time I was shy. I felt out of place! In that school, not outside school. In the school I felt I was out of place. Even after I started to know some of them. Still, I felt "I don't belong with them because they are different." They were completely different than me. They were thinking differently. Their ideas were different. Their behaviour was different. We were completely different! I was with them because I needed them. They didn't need me. I needed not to be alone. But they didn't need me. They had their friends. But I wanted to be with them because I didn't want to be alone! . . . just sit there and have lunch alone! A:  That must have felt very  CR,: It felt very lonely. It felt awful, especially the first days. As I said, I saw them together, all the girls were together, and as I said, I was shy. I wouldn't go to them. I didn't go to them. Two or three of them, they came to me. I didn't go to them first because I thought they might not accept me. A:  So you didn't go to them because  CR,: Well, that was the first reason--the fear that they wouldn't accept me. But the second reason for my shyness was my English. I thought they might make fun of my language. Thirdly, I thought: "They are different." See, I'd never been with Canadians before. I was scared of how they would treat me, how they would behave. So, I had all these feelings. I was scared. I didn't know what to do. With Canadians, I felt pretty lost. There was one girl. She was a very nice girl. You know what Canadians . . . they were kids too. She was nice to me. Her locker was beside mine. That's how we got to know. each other . . . she was, her parents were from Yugoslavia. So she wasn't really Canadian. Yes, she was different from the rest and she was a very nice girl. She was very, one of those people who can manage everything on their own and can talk and she was quite outgoing and assertive and competent. She initiated conversation with me and found out that I was alone and that was my first term in school, actually, now I remember, it was her first year there too! She was in grade 11 and it was her first year. So she was kind of alone too. But by the end of the year she knew all the school because she was the type who would go around and meet people and talk. She was the type to talk. A: CR,:  Very  outgoing.  Yeah.  A: So are you saying that what brought that you shared something?  you two together was mostly the fact  CR,: TJhuh, yeah. A n d we were also in the same class, one of our classes we shared, and she sat beside me in class. She was the one who started to talk to me. Sometimes, see, sometimes, I still have this thing. I'm shy. Not when I am in a Persian party or when I am in the Iranian community. But when I am at school I am not the first one to take the first step. A:  Okay.  CR,, tell me what's the difference.  121  CR,:  What's the difference of what?  A: You say you and different, and a Persian party. ? CR,:  It was  are not shy in most Persian settings. You are very outgoing I've seen you and I know that you are pretty outgoing in, say, But say that in school and when you are around Canadians . .  then.  It was  three  years  ago.  A: Okay. Three years ago, what was the difference you perceived between a Persian setting and a Canadian one? What made you feel different and behave differently when in one setting or the other? CR,: A:  The Okay.  difference was,  first,  I thought their culture is different.  What does that mean?  CR,: Well at that time I didn't think that I knew it, the culture, because everything seemed so different. I would see them-the people I saw at that school-some of them were very rude. Some were very impolite. Some did things that I didn't do, I didn't dream of doing. Like smoking joints, or living on their own and by themselves at that age, or, to have the freedom of having all those boyfriends and not coming home at night! So I would see them and I would tell myself: "they're . . . " Well, but you see, I wouldn't let that get into me, I didn't let that separate me from . . . I didn't let that be the reason. I guess I didn't want to see that just because they are freeer than I was they were any different. I didn't want to say that that was the reason for our difference. But at first, I thought: "Well, I have never been around Canadians. I don't know how to act. I don't know how to behave, what to do . . . or what is appropriate to do!" Also, then, my English was not good and I thought, well, you see, the younger generation is young and they can't understand my situation. I was kind of scared and embarrassed and shy. So I wasn't the one to go to them. She was the one to come to me and I was happy that she did. I was glad to find a friend. We had lunch together. She met other people and through her I started to know others and I started to talk to them. They were different! Like, I don't know. I really didn't figure it out. I thought maybe it was because they're younger or something. There were two . . . Okay, the ones who were smart and into studying, they were more understanding. They were more friendly with me. The ones that were really outgoing and into fashion and smoking joints and boyfriends, they couldn't really accept me. They weren't too friendly with me. We had nothing to talk about. Like when we were together, we couldn't talk. We didn't have much in common. And sometimes I think it was my own fault too. I couldn't communicate. I felt we were different sometimes and more-so I felt we couldn't communicate. Or, I don't know, sometimes I feel that it was my own fault. Maybe, if I were not shy, or if I could talk more, I mean I didn't have to be very outgoing or anything, but just to talk more and be more talkative. I didn't have to be like them, but maybe if I were more friendly. You see then I always thought that they were not friendly with me. I never thought that it could have been me. I never went to them, and yet I blamed them for being unfriendly. I always blamed them and not myself. But maybe it would have been different if I was different. And, well, that was a high school community, a high school setting. It's much different than a college setting. People are more mature in college. It's completely different. Actually, I can't say I never had a good Canadian friend. I just had one and I lost contact with her. Or, no, I think I had two. Anyway, my friend in this college, she was really something! She really was a good friend to me. She was different. That's what I felt. I could easily talk to her. She could understand me. She helped me. You know,  122  she didn't have the same cultural background as me, but she could understand me. She was 33. She was mature. You know, like,. you could tell. Anywhere in the world, older people are more understanding, are more sympathetic. Like those kids in high school were-I felt a lot older and more mature than them. You see, all my friends had always been older than myself, throughout my life, almost. Those kids in school, they seemed so childish! They thought so childish! They were into, I don't know, things most 16, 17, 18 year old Canadians are into. Like, into discos and, I did think differently. A: And you think that if they were a group of Persian kids, they would think differently? CR,: If they were the same age, they might have been the same. had younger Iranian friends here and A:  How about back home?  Because I  What would a 16 year old be like in Iran?  CR,: It would have been quite the same. When I was going to this high school, I had been there for about a year. I had a little bit more experience in life from the time I was in Iran. A year is not a long time, but still, I'd been through experiences. Even when I was in Iran I sometimes thought some of my friends were so childish. Still, I would think that it would be kind of the same, however, the language and culture differences still exist and there should be some difference . . . To get back to the school, the first month there was terrible for me! I was so lonely! I didn't know anybody. I was alone and I felt awful. I sometimes felt like going to my counsellor, the school counsellor, and talk to her. And I was, I don't know, I felt very lonely. A:  Why didn't you go to her?  CR,: I didn't know what to say. I didn't know what to tell her. I thought maybe she wouldn't understand. Maybe she would have thought this was so childish! I don't know! I wish I did, but I didn't go. A: CR,: A:  You thought I, uhuh.  maybe she wouldn't Uhuh!  understand?  I thought she wouldn't understand.  Why wouldn't she?  CR,: I don't know. I don't know. I wish I did! But I did go to her and told her that I wanted to work in the school area or something. So since there was a French kindergarten behind our school and apparently they needed some workers to take care of the children, she asked me if I was interested in working with the children. She told me that I could work during my lunch hour breaks or after school. And I started my volunteer work at the kindergarten. You see, this was at the time when I was very lonely, when I had no friends. So I got myself busy there and I was happier this way, it helped. Even, even when I began to know some of the girls in school, I was still alone. See it wasn't just a matter of talking to them, I guess, like we would be sitting together and having lunch together. We would be talking about this class and that class, or they would be talking about their boyfriends or about their date "last night." They would talk about: "I went out last night" or "I didn't study the night before," and I still felt alone. I still preferred to go to that kindergarten than to stay and talk with these girls. I preferred to keep myself busy rather than to talk to . . . Because I had nothing to say! I don't know, I preferred to be in that kindergarten than to be there at lunch hour. And in the beginning, I hated those lunch hours! I  123  wished A:  I had more classes during that hour.  But then  So that you wouldn't have to face the loneliness?  CR,: / didn't want to be alonel When I was in Iran, all my life, I was always around people. I was always with somebody. I always had friends. It was hard for me to be alone! But you see, after a while you get used to it. I got used to being lonely! It didn't hurt me as much any more. After a while, I tried to be with the others, I still was lonely, but it didn't hurt any more. Like, I was getting used to it. I said to myself: "Well, there's nothing else . . . I cannot go home for lunch." I didn't have a car. So I said to myself: "Let's make the best of it! Let's be with them. When they're talking you listen and see what they say" and so on. So I kind of got used to it, and then I started concentrating more on my studying and going to the library and studying harder and harder, so it was kind of . . . I had an art class where I learned to make ceramic pots and drawing. I kept myself busy. So that went by. But then out of school, that year, out of school, I felt different. It had been a year and I had so many friends by then, Persian friends, all my Canadian friends were inside the school. Outside, I didn't have an Canadian friends. A:  And you didn't have any ciose friends in school?  CR,: No, not in school, not a close friend. They couldn't understand me, sometimes, I don't know, they couldn't understand me, I never tried to talk to them. To share my secrets with them. Well, anyway, outside school I felt differently. I would say: "At least, I have my friends. I can enjoy myself being with them and I have this good friend of mine!" You see, it was different. I thought: "Well, I'm lonely in school right now, but outside, I'm not like that. I'm not this lonely!" A:  And what did that do to you?  How did you feel about it?  CR,: Oh, it gave me hope! It gave me hope to go through the day. I was looking forward to the weekends when I could be with my friends. A n d every weekend I used to, well, then we lived in Richmond, and every weekend I used to come to North Vancouver to party with my girlfriends and to be with them. A t that time it was good for me. I tried not to think, I didn't think about being homesick a lot, and I wasn't that homesick by then! B y that time I wasn't feeling the loneliness and homesickness that I felt when I first came. I didn't have that extreme homesick feeling. I was homesick, but it wasn't that hard. It wasn't as strong as in the beginning. It was still kind of hard, but less. A n d my parents would come and go. They were here for four mnoths and then they would go back, and then come again. The longest they were ever here was a year. So they were here and there. A: So you no longer felt as homesick. What was different? feelings were different--did you dream about home? Or  Tell me what  CR,: I did! I did! I'm not saying I didn't dream. I thought about going back. But then I also started to say: "Okay, I want to study, and I have to stay." I started to think more, and the situation in Iran was getting worse. Let me get to that too. The situation was getting worse then. I thought: "No, I don't want to be there now. I miss it very much but I don't want to be there at this time. It was exactly at the time of the American hostage situation, and nobody could come out and it was kind of scary and my dad would say: "If you come and they close the airport, then what will happen?" You see, it was also the situation that made me not think about going back so much. So then I said, "Okay! This is  124  it!  I'm  A:  So  going to stay here. you  still had  Finish my  education.  And  then go back!"  the hope of going back?  CR,: I still had, I still have the hope of going back! After five years I still, when I think of back then, I don't know, this good Iranian friend I told you about, she used to say, "I know what you're going through, because I know right now you are imagining-you had good times there--you still think that if you go back you might have the same things, the same good old times. But things are different now. And until you go back and see for yourself that everything is different, you will never get over your dreams. You'll always think that things are the same." Now, I know it's different! Now, I don't have those dreams. About two years ago I started realizing that things had' changed, that things are different, that they are not the same as they used to be. But then, even after I had made all those friends, I did have those fantasies and dreams. All those fantasies that being in Iran was much better, and that if I go back I'll be much happier, that I'll go to places I loved, remember Pahlavi Street? How pretty and how fun it was? Yes, I thought of going to all those places, places I loved, you know, but now I know it's different. But then, I thought I had to see that it's different. I had to see for myself. I couldn't believe it. I didn't want to believe it! A:  What do  CR,: A: CR,:  you  feel now?  I feel I know it's different. Do  you  believe it now?  Yeah, I believe it!  A: How with  was  I started believing it about two  that for you?  How  was  years  ago.  that experience of finally coming to grips  CR,: I missed it! I don't want it to be different! Because the best times of my life I spent there! I had the best times. I used to have lots of fun! You know, those things, I miss. Those places, I miss. The good times, I miss. I miss it, of course! But it's different, of course. I know I'm older and thosekinds of things don't make me happy any more. I was then. But's it's different! Even if it were the same, I know it wouldn't make me happy any more. I don't dream of that right now. But I first came here it was the beginning and I still had those feelings. But now it's different. I'm older, I think of other things now. A: Okay. You said that you still hope to go back some day, but you know and now believe that Iran is a different place and you are a different person and you know that even if you do go back things are not going to be the same, right? CR,:  Yes.  A: Now I want to ask you a question. When you started realizing this reality, when you finally believed that everything, including you, has changed, what did you go through? What were the feelings? What was that experience like? CR,: I felt very upset, because, as I always say, I love Iran, I really love Iran. And in the beginning, it was so hard for me to believe that Iran is different, that I'm different. It was hard to believe, but you know something? Actually in some ways I was glad to realize that I'm growing. But no, I wasn't glad that my country was changing and all that. Yeah, and you see by the time I started  125  College thinking about Iran as much as I used to in the beginning. Yes, I started life in college and that's another thing. After high school I began to be more on my own, to be more independent and to be more free. To have grown up. By then, my ideas were different, glad to have had to go through all those experiences. They weren't pleasant, but I'm glad to have gone through them. A:  Do  you  think that you  went through all that because you  are in Canada?  CR,: Because I was in Canada, because I was in a different place. If I had stayed in Iran, I would've matured very late, much later. I wouldn't have had those growing experiences. I wouldn't have known life the way it really is so early in my life. I would have thought that life was all joy and fun. To recognize that life really means having to go through hardships would have happened to me a lot later and I'm really glad to have gone through all of this and to have gained the kinds of experiences that I did. Because it really changed me very fast, it helped me grow faster. A: Okay. CR,, I want you to focus on the changes and tell me what they were. If you can specifically tell me in what ways have you changed, in the ways you think or do things, in terms of your values, for instance, or your ideas CR!: A:  Yeah, some of the values have changed and Can  you  give me  some of the ideas too  some examples?  CR,: Yeah, well I started to think about things more seriously. Like, I don't know how to explain, I started to think more seriously about life. The things I wanted, or want, are different than before. I want now to study, to really study. I've loved to work, to be on my own, to be alone, to do things my way, to do things I wanted to do for a long time, to not be dependent, to get to know myself, still now I don't know myself very well. I need the time to be alone to get to know myself better and right now, maybe I'm unsure what things I want For my future yet. There are things I want. I say: "I want to be this, I want to be that. I want this or I want that." But, still I need more time to know myself and to see what I really want and who I really am. A: So, what you are saying is that when you were in Iran you have a good sense of who you are, or were. Right?  really didn't  CR!: No, no, I didn't, no. I never thought about it! And when you are young you don't really think about these things. You really don't consider what life is or who you are or what you really want. You don't think about these things. I guess part of growing up is that things happen in your life and you start to think more seriously about yourself, what you want, what your values are, what's your goal in life, what you want to be A:  And  you  think coming to Canada was  a turning point?  CR ]: It was a turning point! You see, for instance, I started working in different places within almost a year after I came here. I started to realize that life reallymeant working hard. You cannot have anything easily. For everything you have to work hard and that things are not there for you to have unless you work hard for them. And that there are things in life that no one will provide for you, not even your parents. So it's you, it's onlyyou and you have to go for it. You see if I were in Iran, I wouldn't have been able to work, I don't think. Young women my age hardly work. They usually go to university there. Here, working, being around people really taught me things and made me see the world  126  around me more clearly. And mostly, I think it was working that brought about the changes. To get some experience in life, on jobs, with people and to see how people are and to get to know people better, to be around them, to become able to judge people better-when I first came, I couldn't do that, but after a while of being around others taught me all this. In Iran it was different. I know if I had stayed in Iran, and if I were there right now, I would've never had these experiences. Because I hadn't ever worked. I was too sheltered. There I would've had to go to school. I know I would have not had the kinds of experiences I gained here and I wouldn't have learned this much! So, in a way, I'm really happy that I came here and it really made me grow faster. A:  It was  like a maturing  process?  CR,: Yes. It was a maturing process! It was very good. Now, I'm not sorry that I came because, ah, I'm not saying that I hate it here. No. I like Canada, because it's like my second country, this is my second life. I started to know myself here! I started to grow up here! So, if I hadn't been here, I think, the process would've begun in two or three years from now. A:  So growing  would have been delayed for you.  CR,: It would have been delayed. Yes, being in Canada has helped me mature. By having older friends, by being around more mature people, by talking to them, and, mostly when you work, when you're independent, when you have your own income, you feel better, much better and more mature. A: CR ,, you talk about Canadian settings. CR,:  work and  I'm  assuming that you  have worked in  Uhuh.  A: Okay. How was that experience? I know that your close network of friends have all been Persians. But at work, what's the experience like working with Canadians? CR,: It's good! I get to know them better. I get to know what Canadians are like. I become more familiar with their culture and I've also gotten to know that it's not good to be around Iranians only. You get to know the society you're living in and, of course, that's not just Iranians! It's your day-to-day life. It's a day-to-day process. You work, you meet people, you see their demands, what they are like, what they want A:  And  what are they like?  CR,: Well, they are, you know, I worked in a plant shop, I worked restaurant, I worked in a bank, they are, everybody is different. So, are different, one from the other. They're like us, they are not really you know what I mean. Their demands, things we're after, we want, same. But the culture is different. But in general you might find a Canadians who think the same way you do and want the same things you. So, it's A:  How  in a Canadians different, if are the lot of in life as  does that make you feel?  CR,: It doesn't really affect me. Of course, I'm some Canadians and how they're like.  glad that I'm  getting to know  127  A:  Have you ever been intimate with any?  CR,: A:  No. And  CR,: them. feel A: CR!: A:  why  is that?  Well, I had some friends. But I don't know, I never felt comfortable with Maybe, it's me. It's not them. I feel more comfortable with Iranians. I  What is the wall between you? I don't know.  I haven't figured that out yet.  I don't know!  What happens that blocks you from getting close?  A: Maybe I don't want to get close. I haven't seen any real reasons for not getting close. But the situation just provided for me to be closer to Iranians than to Canadians. Like the school situation was mostly talking about school stuff, or talking about my culture or theirs. We never got into our private lives, as to what they're like, or what I am like. So I never got anything deep going on with them. The relationships were never very deep. So really I cannot tell what the wall is. A:  So you still feel different?  When you are with Canadians?  CR,: Not really. Now I don't. Now Canadians for me are like those Iranians I'm not close to. Like some of the people that I see or meet and we just have casual conversations. A:  What's the difference between you and  them?  CR!: It's just that you can't be close to them. It's just people you see every day, casually. Some Iranians you just see occasionally, and Canadians for me right now are the same. I see them, we talk, we go for coffee or something. But there was never the time, or maybe they just never developed into a good friendship. A: I want to ask you a question. Earlier you mentioned understanding. You said that "they" don't seem to understand you and I wonder if that's got anything to do with it. CR j : Well, right now, I don't think so. A t that time, when I was younger, when I talked with them, because, as I said, my ideas were different then, I felt they don't understand me, and they didn't. But now, actually, I haven't been talking with any Canadians about any serious matters lately, so maybe there is more understanding now. Maybe now it's better. Maybe now we can understand each other better. You know, I really can't tell for now. Because actually, last year, or was it last term, I had a Canadian friend at school. She really could understand me. I was really comfortable with her. I felt that she was a very good friend of mine. We only saw each other in school. We never went out or anything. But whenever we had time we talked. I used to talk with her. Sometimes, I told her of my problems. And she really understood me. A: CR!:  What did she do that made you feel understood? She  came close to me,  she got close to me.  Sometimes she tried to give  128  me advice. Then I thought that she understood me. By giving me advice and by telling me what's right and what is wrong. . Just like a friend. When you talk to a friend and when they care, you get some advice and tell you whether you should or should not do this or that, or A:  So  then her being Canadian  CR,: No. think that realized it Persians. right now  didn't matter?  No! Until then, I didn't know that it doesn't matter. I used to maybe it did matter. But by being with her and talking with her I doesn't have to matter. Because I don't always feel comfortable with There are some you wouldn't want to get close to at all, so I think it really doesn't matter.  A: CR,, now I would like to take you back to your story, if you're still willing to continue? Remember, we kind of went through a journey and I would like to get back to the journey CR,: I went to college, I was in a place, very different from high school. There were different kinds of people, there were mature people, and there were younger students. The situation was different. I was on my own in college. In the beginning I felt the challenge of trying to get used to the place. I wasn't used to that kind of a place at all. It was new to me. A:  What was  strange about it?  CR!: It wasn't the people. It was the place. It was a change in place. It was like when you go from one stage of your life to another. It's the transition from high school to university. That was the difference. A:  Were you, then, self-conscious about not being a Canadian?  CR 1: No, no. By then, the time I started to go to college, I didn't feel that way any more. I actually wanted to have more Canadian friends. And I actually did meet more and more Canadians. Like last year, I started going out with a group of Canadians. They were very nice people. They were, I can't really say understanding, because we never got into anything real serious, but we were friends. We went out together for drinks or something. Some weekends we went out and had a good time, it was like my other Iranian friends. It was okay for a short time, for a casual relationship, nothing too serious. And I think I didn't enjoy spending a whole lot of time with them not because they were Canadians, but because it just wasn't my kind of fun they were having and they just weren't my kind of people. They were different from the kind of person I am, so our interests and entertainments are not the same. They enjoyed different things in life, things that I didn't really enjoy, but, I tried to tag along with them because I liked them. They were nice people. I tried to have fun! I said to myself: "That's okay, as long as I'm with them the rest doesn't really matter." They were just different from me and don't think it's just because they are Canadians. No, that's not necessarily the case. A: Somehow, though, I'm hearing you say that "amongst Persians I can find friends who share common interest with me, whom I enjoy being with a lot, whom I can become close to. But I haven't found enough Canadians whom I can become real close to, with whom I can really enjoy myself, like a good friend. CR,: A:  Yes. Am  I right?  129  CR,: Oh yes! But I don't think the reason is that they're not Iranian. Maybe it's a matter of finding the right person. Even among all the Persians I know I had to look for people who shared with the same interests. Maybe there are Canadians like that around. But I have not found them. So maybe I haven't found the right group of people! A:  Okay.  Go on.  CR!: So, yes I got to know more people in college. I had friends. I wasn't alone! Well, in the beginning I was alone. But even then I didn't feel the kind of loneliness I felt in high school. Somehow it was different. I don't know how. In the beginning, I didn't have friends, but I just didn't feel the loneliness. There were people around me. They were more friendly, they were understanding, more interested in you. They didn't think that because you are Iranian or something, you're different. They could understand your situation, or the reason you are in Canada and all the other things. So it was easier for me and during the past two or three years I've been in this college I've met different kinds of people. I've met a lot of Canadians and people from other countries. And they were all very nice people. I can't say I met anybody I didn't like, anybody who hasn't been nice in this college. They were all nice. They were all different kinds of people. I got to know them, to be sort of like friends with them. And I was really happy to know them! I met Indians and Canadians and Yugoslavians, and people from all over the world. You see, basically we're all the same! It's some of your desires that are different. It's the individual personalities that make you different, the person you are, that's different, more than your cultures. And I was working at the same time. Working and studying was kind, of hard for me, but I was happy about working! It was tiring. I couldn't keep up, but I was happy about it. Because most of my time was gone. I was going to school during the day and some afternoons, and evenings I worked, so the time was gone quickly. And I enjoyed both my work and my studies. Sometimes it was really hard for me. So, throughout college (about three years) it has been fun. You get to know a lot of people, and at your breaks you talk, you see, when I first meet Canadians, that's when I talk most with them. Because as soon as they find out that you're Iranian they want to know more about Iran. And you talk about your country and all that. A: CR!: A:  How  do you feel when you talk about your country?  I feel upset!  I feel mad!  I feel angry!  Angry about what?  CR!: Angry about what we have lost. Angry about what we were and what we are now! So when I talk to them I try to explain what we were, how beautiful it was there, how we had visitors from all over the world! I try to explain to them that we are not what they see on T.V. I try to explain to them that we, the Iranians who live here in Canada, are not such a fanatic, traditional and stupid bunch of people. That we were different back then, and some of them, they know a little bit about Iran, but some hardly know anything. So when you talk to them they kind of become surprised at what we used to be and what has happened to us, especially those who didn't know A:  Do you think they  understand?  CR,: Some do. Some understand. Actually, most of them do understand, and as I said, for those who don't know much about Iran, it's sort of like a shock. They say: "Oh, I don't believe that!" But I've met some who know exactly  130  everything about our country and I feel happy about that because you are known to them and that feels good! But then sometimes I tell them I'd rather not talk about it because of how I feel when I talk about it. They want to know about the Revolution and I say: "I don't want to talk about it because it upsets me! Talking about it upsets me!" You see, I was there during the Revolution. When I see what a loss it was to go through all what happened throughout the Revolution, it makes me mad! To fight for nothing! To lose lives and people for nothing! It's awful! And they sort of understand and tell me that this has been the case with most revolutions. Sometimes it happens for the better, sometimes for the worse. So mostly, they understand what you're saying. Then, I had my social life, and I had my school life. And my social life was mostly with Iranians. I'd be going out with them and, and up until last year I wasn't really, really enjoying myself the way I wanted to. I went out. I had some laughs. But deep inside, it wasn't really what I wanted. Like, to go out, to dance or to just sit around and, not even enjoy yourself. They were okay. There was nothing wrong with them really. But they were just riot like me. They were different from me. They enjoyed things that I didn't enjoy. A:  Then why did you go?  CR,: I, I, I wanted, I didn't want to stay home. Every time I thought to myself, "maybe this time, maybe tonight will be different". About three years ago, I was going out with them and at first I enjoyed myself, especially the parties we had. There were lots of people. In the beginning it was good. But then after a while I started to grow up, and then the things I wanted were different. Things I enjoyed were different about three years ago. But ever since that time I didn't enjoy myself with them. I thought it was me. I never thought it was them. I wanted to go because I didn't want to spend all my time at home. So then I started to get to know other people. I started to find the people who enjoyed the same kinds of things in life as I did. Since then, I enjoyed being with people more and more. I liked being with this new group. And it was also fun for me. You know, up until last year or so, during the first four years, before I found my kind of people, I was always sort of depressed. I don't know why, I just couldn't really be happy. I used to make a big fuss about everything. I always made a big deal out of every little thing. Of my - smallest problems. I couldn't enjoy my life to the fullest and was never really happy. After I met this new group, I realized something and said to myself: "Hey! You are not growing any younger! This is the time you can make the best of your life. This is the time to enjoy your life in any way you can! Because when you become older you will always wish that you were younger and that these days would come back again!" So that's when I thought that I should enjoy life and at this age try to make the best of what I have! Because I knew that I would never be this young any more, and will never be this free any more! I'm not saying that my problems all went away and that I had no more problems. But when I was with my friends I forgot all my problems and figured: this is not the time to think of the things I don't have any more or of the things that are bothering me. This is the time to be happy and to enjoy life as it is, to forget about everything else. A: CR,, when you talk about "problems" and things you don't have any more, is that somehow related to your being out of Iran? CR,: . Well, some, well, mostly they were related to going through financial problems which was, yes, very much related to being out of Iran. And as a young girl there were things I wished I had and did and our financial situation did not allow them, of course. When I was younger, that really bothered me. Because you seee, I was used to a different lifestyle in Iran. But now, when I think about that I don't see it as a real big problem any more and I see a lot of  131  other people are on the same boat with me. And I accept the realities that are there. I'm okay with that now. I've realized the fact and they don't really bother me any more. I see a lot of people in the same situation as myself and it doesn't seem to bother them as much! So why should I let it bother me? Really, b.ecause I can enjoy my life more by not thinking about it. There is a lot more to life, that's really true. You can be active in other ways. Sports, work, or being around good people who make you happy. That's really what matters now. To make the best of everything! Studying, work, career, all of that, you make the best of that, and there are times when you need to not think. And you make the best of that too. You enjoy the moments and not think of what you long to have, but don't have. Or of things that bother you, I could have had those enjoyable moments with Canadians, I don't know. But it just so happened that I shared those moments with Persians, I guess because those were the people I was more with. Now, I still say I miss Iran very much! I still want to go back, at least for a visit. I still want to be there, at least for a few months, to see what's happening to my country, what has changed. All you know is what you hear from others. But you cannot believe it. Because what they see may not be what you'll see. Maybe you find it different. Maybe you will enjoy it, like it. So I still think I have to go back! By myself, to see for myself and judge for myself, whether I can live there or not. If after I finish school here, would I be able to live there in the present situation? Have I gotten used to living in Canada? Is it really like they say it is? Or is it different? I still believe that I should have the chance of going back. I know financially, that's not possible now, but I still have the hope that in the near future I will be able to go and see Iran again, see my family and friends and see the changes A:  Do you think you would want to live there, ever?  CR,: I don't know. I can't say that. I've really thought about it. But I would have to see what it's like for myself. Now, I cannot say anything. Maybe I can live there and maybe I can't! Being here for five years and not knowing what's going on there, you really can't tell! It's like talking about the unknown. It's an unknown place, I don't have an answer for you being this far away for all this time! A: What does it feel like, CR ,, to not be able to tell, to not be certain about the place you love so much and miss? CR,: Well, it doesn't feel good at all! It feels awful! Because I want to live there. I want to live there! But I'm not sure whether I can or not. I really want to go back and be there, so not knowing, not being able to tell is because of this uncertainty. Because I don't know what has happened to my country, because I don't know what's going on there! But I really, I really want to be there! I want to live there! A: So on the one hand, there's this desire to be there and on the other hand, there's this uncertainty. And I'm wondering what this uncertainty is like. How's the experience of being so uncertain about something like? CR,: Actually, it's terrible! To be uncertain about something, when you don't know, when you're not sure about something, something that's important to you, it really bothers you. You wish so much that you knew. Sometimes I feel, it's like feeling lost! Yeah, sometimes I feel lost, like I don't know any more! Can I really live there? And I won't be able to answer that! Iwould have to find that out by myself, and besides, now, even now, I don't think that I know myself really well. Sure, I have matured, but still there are many things about myself that I haven't discovered yet. And maybe that is because for most of my life I  132  have been around my parents, and even up until now! They are around all the time! I'm overly protected. Sometimes I feel that I cannot think for myself. They always get into your life. It's not that they always want to, but they're used to it. So sometimes I want to get away from all that. I want to be alone to see what being alone is really like. A:  And  do you  think being in Canada will help you  in that way?  CR,: Yes, help me more, because I think that if I go back and it would be a lot harder for me to get to know myself. A:  stay there alone  Why?  CR,: Because of the situation, I think. If it were like before the Revolution, it might have been different. But now, if you want to live on your own, you wouldn't be safe. That's what I think. But here, there, you would hardly have a chance to work. Here you can work, you can be on your own! There, it's different these days. It's hard to be on your own, especially if you are woman! Now, here, being alone (more than I get to be sometimes) will help me to get to know myself better. I have more opportunities here. Before the Revolution, things might have been a little different in Iran, you know, for women and all that, but now I don't think so. As I said, I've been aweay for five years but the things I hear tell me that things have changed from what they used to be like. A: I hear you saying this over and over again, that you have a yearning to know yourself better, a desire to know yourself better. And I also sense that being in Canada has put you on the track of coming to know yourself better. Now I want you to clarify for me that what is it that you mean by "knowing myself better?" What is the experience like? CR,: Okay, for example, if you face problems and you're more on your own, you will get a chance to know whether you can handle the difficulties or not. You get to realize your strengths and abilities. It's like examining myself. It's like examining to find out whether I could take care of myself or not. Whether I can handle my own problems or not, or would being on my own, being independent, make me happy or not? Is it what I want? I would never be able to tell until and unless I experience that. And being here I think has provided me more chances to experience that. You see, I keep saying "being here" and the reason is because I feel that I grew up here. The period between childhood and adulthood, I've spent here, in Canada. I've gone through the transition here. I went through the experiences here in Canada. So it will be easier for me to go through the rest here as well. I don't know, maybe if I had gone through this stage in Iran, it might have been easier to stay there. But I was young. I kind of grew up here and that's different. A: You're saying that although the growing up experience has been rather difficult, you have gained a lot and you see it in a positive light? CR,: Uhuh. And I wasn't like this until a year ago. I felt unhappy up until last year. I made a big deal out of nothing. But now I think more seriously about things and about life. Life can't be without its problems! Life is not easy and there should be hardships. This is life! Without hardships you won't enjoy life! And let's face , it. I haven't been through any real disasters yet. Really they are just financial and family problems and I used to get run down by them easily. Now it's easier for me to face them. A:  CR ,, we  talked about changes, and  you said that you  have changed, that  you  133  have matured. You also told me that some of your values, attitudes, behaviours and ideas have changed. Now, I want you to compare yourself now with who you were when you first came, or during the first couple of years you lived here, and tell me more about these changes. Maybe we can start with values. Can you tell me about the changes you've experienced in your value system? For instance, around sex, family bonds and ties, the role of women, work values, etc. CR,: Oh, values have changed. Money-wise, for example, I was in a situation where my parents would provide for me whatever I wanted. Here I've learned that I cannothave what I want just like that, and I don't want to have everything just like that! Now working and making money has a different value for me. I've learned not to take comfort and the good things in life for granted and I think about what and how you have to give of yourself in order to gain something, to be happy and satisfied. In terms of my relationship with my family and my closeness to them, I don't think much of that has changed. My feelings towards my family is still the same. I feel strongly about them. They're so important to me! They always were. Right now, there are some decisions I have to make, but first I'd have to consider my parents. And sometimes this does bother me, because there are some things I want to do, but they don't want me to, and they won't say: "you can't," but I know it would hurt them if I did. There are some things that hurt them so I have to think about them before I decide. That's why I'm going through difficulties right now, my problem is to see what they want. And my parents' expectations from me are very high. I never can be what they want me to be! And right now I'm going through a stage where I have to think about certain things in my life, which I want for myself. But I also have to think of what my parents think first. If it really hurts them I won't do it! So I still have strong values about considering what my parents want. But it is hard and sometimes it hurts. Those two are good examples, I can't really think of anything else. Well, just that right now I feel more mature than even aout five or six months ago, I don't know the reasoon, maybe A: CR,: A: CR,: A:  What has  happened in the past few  I don't know!  People around can  months, do you tell!  know?  I can't tell  myself!  What is it like for you? Oh!  It feels real good!  What has  happened inside that makes you  feel you've grown  up?  CR,: As I said, I couldn't notice it at first. People around me made me think something has changed. They say I've matured, you know, in my ways. Then I thought: "Maybe it's my friends, the people I was with, the things I learned from the, the way I behave now" A: What's different? examples? CR,: A:  What behaviours  I act more mature And  are different?  Can  you  give me  specific  now.  what does that mean to you?  What is mature?  CR,: I act, before, let me give you an example. For instance, when I was in a crowd I used to act so careless and jump around like a kid, and get excited, but now, I'm more serious, more "lady-like," more quiet. I don't talk as much as I used to, you know, like just talking all the time! I'm not so gullible any more.  134  It's not because I don't enjoy the company of my friends any more, but now I just don't jump into any conversation, I think before I talk! I've changed. I feel it. A:  And  do you  like that?  CR,: I like it! I like feeling more mature and I do. I don't know the exact reasons, but I feel it being there. I feel more mature. And as I said, the other thing that's a sign of maturity for me is the way I deal with my problems now. I don't panic at the thought of a problem any more. I handle them more calmly. For instance, something happened to me last year and I thought: "this is it! It is the end of the world for me!" Not any more! It's kind of a sense of strength that I feel. I feel stronger now, although I still don't have a lot of self-confidence. In Iran, you see now, I cannot compare really, because then and there, I was only a kid. I never thought about myself, who I was, I never thought about my values, my desires. Now I think. I'm into thinking and it's much different. What I thought then is different from what I think now. Now I think more about life. About what's happening around me. ABout what life, work, school and especially finishing my education mean, about what I want for my future, what do I want to be, and who do I want to be with. What is it I want from others? Or how do I want to like somebody, and what do I see in love? And you know, all these things. Then, I never thought about them, now they are on my mind all the time. But still, I don't feel self-confident. I never have! A:  So you  feel that your self-confidence decreased when you came to Canada?  CR,: No, it hasn't changed much. My self-confidence hasn't changed much and I'm not happy about that. I want to feel more confident about myself. I want to have more self-confidence. A:  What is self-confidence to you?  What does it mean to you?  CR!: Not being sure about myself, about the way I am. For example, if I want to do something other people can influence my decision very much. If I, for instance, want to buy something, I ask other people if they like it or not. If there is nobody around then I decide on my own. But sometimes, even after I've bought it, after I've liked it and bought it, if I don't get compliments on it, then I'll have my doubts, and I will say to myself: "maybe it's not such a good buy after all, maybe I made a mistake!" A:  So what other people think is important for you.  CR!: It influences me. Sometimes it's not even important but it influences me. I know that what 7. think is important no matter what others think or say. Nevertheless, what others say or think has an impact on me, it influences me. Then I get second thoughts about what I've done. Even if I like for myself what I've done, what others think gets into me, it gets in the way, it influences me. A: And among those who influence you the most?  influence you are there any  specific people that  CR,: First, are my parents. Then my best friends. These are the ones whose ideas can influence me the most. The people who care about me. The people who like me and love me. A:  And  am  I right in assuming that they are mostly Persians?  135  CR,: They are all Persians! It's not important for example when a Persian whom I don't really know thinks something about me. What she or he thinks doesn't really bother me, or influence me. I don't care! But those who matter to me, that's different. A: You talk about being yourself a lot. Compare yourself the first couple of years that you'd come to Canada with when you were back home in Iran-when did you have a more definite sense of yourself? CR!: Two years ago. That's when I started to have a more definite sense of myself. When I was in Iran, as I said, I never thought about myself, but two years ago, or a year and a half ago I started to think more about myself and all that. It started about two years ago. A:  What about before that?  What about the three years prior to that?  CR!: I was lost in my identity. I didn't know what I wanted. I didn't know what I wanted to be. I didn't know what makes me happy or who makes me happy, what kind of people make me happy,- all these questions, then I didn't really think about them, because then, I just wanted to be with people, to spend my time with people and not to be alone! A: Do you think that being in Canada had about your identity in those days?  anything to do with your feeling lost  CR,: I don't think so, I think that even if I had been back home I would have felt somewhat lost. Well, the society you're in does help, so being in your own country with your own culture does help of course, and being in a different culture with different things to learn can make it even more confusing, so sure, it does help, but it's also a stage in your life. When you pass your mid-twenties you don't change as much as you do when you are younger. You know the years between 15 and 25 are the years for learning and change, that's when you change a lot. That's when you grow to become an adult. It's your briddge from childhood to adulthood, your ideas change and take form. Of course you change all the time. Every day in your life is a new experience, a new learning. But I think the stage I told you about is the time for the most change. A:  So you  think that it was  mostly  the stage you  were at.  CR!: It was, for the most part, a stage, I think. But I know I reached the point I am at, when I did, because I am in Canada! Having the experiences I've had in Canada have helped me reach this point. If I were still in Iran, this might have been delayed, but because I was able to work, and did the kind of job that I did, nobody cared if I worked in a restaurant! I couldn't have done that in Iran, you know. I wouldn't have been allowed to work in a restaurant! No. Good Persian families don't allow their children to work at jobs like that, in a restaurant as a waitress! I see my sisters, for instance, they got married when they were 19, 20. They went to school, they got married. They were never on their own. They never had a chance to work. They didn't know the value and meaning of making money on their own and for themselves. The value of getting for themselves what they want, of deciding on their own. They didn't go through that, but I did, on my own. So I can compare myself with my sister back home, the one who is still in Iran. She got married when she was 20. It's seven years now. I don't think the experience I had which helped me she went through. I don't think, I don't know how to say it. Well, she's older than me but I think I think better than her. My values in life are much better, my expectations are much higher, my aspirations in life are much higher. If I were back home, I  136  think I would have been married by now. A n d like her I would have hoped for a big, nice house and lots of money and a comfortable life, like the one I had when I was in Iran. I know that that's what she thinks about most, that's all she wants for herself, nothing else. And I know I would have been the same. Depending on other people and having a comfortable life. But my values are different now. Now I know life doesn't come easy, and it shouldn't come easy. You have to work hard for make it worth living. It's you who helps you. It's you who can find your values. It's you you must rely on. And I think what helps here is being on your own and independent. They haven't ever been on their own. They haven't had the experience. They haven't seen a world apart from their married life. My sister in Canada, for instance, she does live around Canadians, she sees and meets them. But it's different for her than for me. I've been to school with them. I've worked with them. It's different. So I think, even she doesn't have the same values I do. So that's how I've changed in Canada. A: Okay. Can you tell me where you belong to? belong to Iran, or that you belong here, in Canada?  Do you feel that you still  CR^: I don't know. Because sometimes I say: "I belong here." But then sometimes I still feel that I belong there, because of my strong feelings for Iran. I love Iran! I can't accept to belong anywhere else, to some other place. But I don't know. Maybe if I go back I wouldn't be able to live there any more. I may lose a lot of things that I have here by going there and maybe I wouldn't be able to take that and it might bother me, so it is possible that I might not want to live there any more. A: CR,: A:  CR,, do you feel that you have a home now? No!  I don't feel that!  Tell me about it.  CR,: I don't have a home. No, I don't! I don't have a home. I don't really belong anywhere. I'm not a Canadian. I'm not like Canadians. And I'm not in Iran! So I'm kind of in between. I have lived here for five years. And, yes, I do have some things from here. But I also have a lot in Iran. This is not home! A: You said: "I'm kind of in between." What is it like to be "in between?"  What does being "in between" feel like?  CRj: It is not good at all. Because you want to belong to some place. You don't want to be in between. When you are, you always think: "Am I, is it right to go this way, or is it right to go the other way? Do I really want to go this way, or do I want to go that way?" So it's very hard to just be in between. Not knowing where you belong. A:  Can you give me a metaphor for that?  A n image of the "being in between?"  CR,: It's like, you can't tell really when you have to make decisions or to make choices. It's like when you want to go one way, but you have to go the other way. It makes you go the other way. A: CR!:  It makes you go the other way? Yeah, it's by force!  My being here is because of the situation  in Iran,  137  which forces me to be here. If the situation were different in Iran I wouldn't stay another hour here! So it forces me to stay. And when you are forced to be somewhere, I'm not saying that I'm unhappy here, as if I were suffering here. No, that's not true. Right now I'm happy here. But it's not what I want. So I'm confused. I don't know which way to go. It's like being suspended up in the air. Like not having your feet on the ground! A:  Like not having a solid ground to walk on.  CR,:  Yeah.  Yeah, something like that.  A: CR,, you talk about being forced and I wonder what your reactions are to that force, to being forced. You just said that if the situation was good in Iran you wouldn't have stayed one hour longer and that you feel forced into this situation now, so you must have some reactions to being forced into it and I'm wondering what they are. CR : As I said, being here doesn't torture me. Right now I'm not suffering. In the beginning I was suffering. Now I feel more settled, so it is easier. But in the beginning, I resented it badly. I was mad! Oh yeah! I was mad! I used to say to myself: "I wish I'd never come! I wish I didn't have to go through all this!" But now, I don't feel angry any more. Actually, I can say that I'm happy that I had to go through this experience. Now I don't resent it that much. }  A: CR,: A: CR,: A:  Have you No.  ever felt guilty about not being in Iran?  I never  Have you  felt guilty.  No.  ever felt a void inside?  Yes. Tell me  about it.  CR,: It's like being nothing, to be empty inside. In the beginning I did feel that. I would think: "I'm nothing. I'm good for nothing." I guess that relates to my self-confidence. Now it is a little better, it is less. I told you my self-confidence hasn't changed much. But that's not the case. In the beginning I felt I was good for nothing. I felt like an empty nothing. I wasn't doing much for myself then. Not working, not going to school, not meeting people, people I liked and made friends with. I felt empty, like: "Well, who am I? What am I good for?" And I think that was also part of the stage we talked about. A: Along the way, you said some things helped you feel more settled in Canada and more whole—one was a friend, the other was the overall experience of growing up here, like working and so on. Now can you think of any other things that have specifically made this settlement easier? CR!:  I think it was  mostly  friends, having them and  A: And what about being with friends made you more adjusted? CR!: A:  Uh.  Maybe, they helped me  What did they say or do?  being around them.  feel more settled, more whole,  to grow faster.  138  CR!: Their behaviour. The things I learned from them. By being with others, you learn. They don't necessarily teach you how to behave, but there are things that you learn by talking to them, by sharing with them, by sharing the same experiences, and by them listening to you, understanding you and helping you. You learn from their problems. You learn from watching them handle their problems, some of them being similar to yours. There's this commonality, and the way they handle the problems helps you learn. A:  And did you find your problems quite similar to theirs?  CR,: No always, no. But watching them handle more devastating problems than my own and handling them more easily and calmly taught me a lot. And helped me realize that, first, I'm not the only one, and second, my problems are not as terrible as I thought they were! If they can do it, so can I! A: I'm assuing that they've also gone through a lot of difficulties trying to adjust to life in Canada. Are the difficulties something you talked about mostly and shared mostly with each other? CR,: Yeah, mostly those kinds of problems-problems of immigration experiences related to it. A:  Okay.  CR,:  Anything else that helped the process of adjustment?  No, not that I can think of.  A: Are there any things, experiences, etc. that slowed . settlement in Canada? That hindered it? CR,: A:  and the  Financial problems, mostly  financial  problems.  down the process of  They did slow it down.  What about anything inside you, anything about yourself?  CR,: Well, my negative feelings about being here, I guess didn't help much—my resentment and not accepting the situation in the beginning. A:  Anything  CR,: A:  in the environment, or about the situation?  (long pause) Do you think that the situation in Iran helped or slowed  it down?  CR,: It actually helped. If the situation hadn't gotten so bad, the process might have been slower. I might have thought about Iran more, and about going back. But when the situation got worse, it helped me to not think about it as much, it sort of helped me to accept the situation and the reality, the fact that I am here. A:  Did it kind of break down your hopes of going back?  CR : t  A:  It sort of broke down my How  hopes of going back to live there for for ever.  would you explain your overall experience in Canada?  CR,: The overall experience wasn't pleasant. I mean it was very difficult. But I'm very glad to have had all of them. I don't regret any one of* them! I'm glad that I did go through all of the experiences and that I did go through it all at the time I was growing up.  139  A:  Would you like to add anything?  CR : Well, I can say that right now, to conclude it, I feel happy that I came and went through all of the experiences. I don't regret anything--the good and the bad. It's all part of my life. It helped me grow. And I hope that I get to know myself even better and to really become what I want to become, to achieve what I want to achieve, to have what I want to have, and hope that one day I will find out whether I can, once again, live in Iran or not! I hope to find out one day whether I can be there or not! This is a question I will always have until I find the answer to it. I have to find out an answer. So that's, that's really what I want to know for now. 1  A:  Have you ever asked  CR,: In the beginning. any more. A: CR,: A: CR,:  yourself: "What am I doing here?" "Why am I here?  What am I doing here?"  But not  You're telling me that now you know why you are here Uhuh!  Uhuh!  That your being here now has some meaning for you. Uhuh.  A: C a n you explain to me what meaning has the experience of being here, of immigrating to Canada, had for you? CR,: Well, the meaning has been that I have found the freedom to choose, to do what I choose. I am more free! A: CR,:  Do you have any questions to ask me? No.  A: Well I have another you?  question to ask you: What was this experience like for  CR,: It was very good! I felt very good. Because it made me think thoroughly about myself. It made me go deeply, like, as I was talking I felt the experiences again. I'd never thought about them so deeply before. There were some questions that were hard to answer because I hadn't thought about them in any depth before. So when you asked me I really felt the questions and the experience. I couldn't always be precise, but I tried to. So it was a real good feeling to go through them and feel them deeply again, and to think and talk about them. Because there are things that you should really talk about in depth with someone and have them to listen to you. And if there is somebody who really listens, you may say something and you'll find out whether it's right or wrong just by saying it. You know, it's like listening to yourself talk. It puts it all into perspective for you. Do you know what I mean? Y o u can judge what you're saying. Even if they don't say anything, you can, just by talking about it, judge it for yourself. It makes things go clearer for you. When you are by yourself, you may not go so deeply into it. But when you talk it over with someone else, it really makes it clearer for you. A: Well, I'm glad to hear that. And I have a sense that this was an insightful experience for you. That you gained some insight into your whole experience of  140  immigration. CR,:  Uhuh!  Yes? Yes, I did!  141  Interview #1--Case  CR  2  CR : I've thought about this question many times. I don't smoke, I don't drink, I don't have sex and that is not common in this culture. But I have good friends among those who drink, and who have sex. I guess I could say that after three years I finally found out how to become adjusted in this country and this is only because I could find out how understanding these people are in this country. In terms of, you know, living in a multicultural society, which you can't easily find in any other part of the world. So we're lucky that we're in Vancouver, actually. And it is hard-I wonder what is your definition of being adjusted? 2  A: Feeling more whole, more settled. This is a second feel settled in Canada, you don't feel . . .  home, kind of thing, you  CR : Maybe I should say that compared to my brother and sister's experience, I didn't have a culture shock, I wasn't in culture shock-and I believe that s because I go to high school here in Canada. And things that they experienced as a foreigner, I didn't. The difference in culture that you experience in high school is far more than what you see in college. And I knew very little of English. 2  A: CR , let me take you back a little and ask you to start with the experience you were going through when leaving Iran. What was it like when you were in Iran-just tell me a story, think of it as a journey we are going through together, take me through the journey and tell me about your experience from the time you were leaving until now. The events are not as important as your experience and feelings. Let's go through this journey. 2  CR : Sure. I'll try to make it very brief. Actually, we left Iran after the first year of war. So I was living there for two years after the Revolution. I went to school after the Revolution—you had to wear a veil and so on. But I was lucky I was living in a part of Iran that was the last province to force women to wear veils. And then from the south (where the war broke) we moved to Karaj (close to Tehran) and that was the hardest part in the last seven-eight years. We'd lost everything—it was very hard financially, we didn't have a house to live in, we had relatives, but you know when you're going through hard times—everybody was tense, everybody was under pressure, so we couldn't rely on them for a long time either. Everybody was under pressure. And then, I was in university in the south, and you know as Baha'i they simply said I couldn't go back to school and it was really hard for me to believe that! Because everything was going so well in my life up to that point. Everything was just perfect! Just the way I wanted it-so although I was in my country I couldn't feel adjusted-and for one year after the war, we lived there and . . . and then things just got harder and harder for Baha'is specifically, and for women and in general. We decided, we were thinking of leaving the country-"how do you leave?" Try to find out about it—we'd heard stories—and I don't know, but somehow we found a contact and we were on our way—and it wasn't easy—it was very expensive—and so we decided to—we were a bunch of youth to leave Iran with my dad and after getting to the countries our parents wanted us to go to, my dad was supposed to go back to Iran and live there. But after leaving from Turkey he found out that he couldn't return to Iran-in Iran he wasn't told this, he found out when he'd already left. 2  A:  So  you  escaped  142  CR : 2  A:  Yes, we escaped By foot?  CR : And by horse-it was quite an experience by itself-4t was 3rd of January, it was extremely cold and the guy in Iran who arranged it didn't tell us how cold it would be, he didn't tell us what kind of clothes to wear, what kind of territory we were going to pass. You know border areas are different and you should . know which area you should cross, and nobody told us really. When we went to a village there was a woman-she really had something to tell us. She checked out clothes and she said "you're going to freeze to death" and "have you ever rode on a horse?" and we said "no!" and she said "my God! These people are your kids!" and I was the oldest one. So we had a hard time on foot and on horse--I remember we had a long, long walk, for 18 hours, without any stops or anything, and by the time we got to a village in Turkey, I mean, you couldn't even lift your fingers to grab your cup of tea or anything, we were so completely tired!! But I'm glad we did it, because it was a very good experience for me as a woman. I always wanted to see that part of Iran, you know that Kurds (a tribe in Western Iran) won't let you, it's hard for them to trust you. And you know for a woman in particular, especially in those countries, you can't ever get a chance to see or experience such journeys and I'm glad-Fm really thankful that I had that chance. 2  A:  It was a unique experience.  CR : It was, believe me, it was. And there were many, many moments when a number of men surrounded us, and they could do anything, Afsaneh, but none of them, none of them even touched us-and my father was the only man, I mean, what could he do? We didn't even know what time it was, who were these people, we didn't know where we were, we didn't know how to survive in those conditions, we didn't know anything! The interesting experience, for me, was my feelings and my emotional reactions-it was really interesting to me—that I wasn't terrified, I wasn't nervous, I mean, I could handle everything very well. 2  A:  Where do you think that came from?  What happened?  CR : I don't know. I think my subconscious decided to, I had to, I guess, to survive the situation! Because I know many people of different ages that panic—they panic-but it is not the time or place to panic! I mean, what could you do?! You're, you look around and all you see is mountains and snow-you don't know where you are. You don't even know whether you are in Iran, or in Turkey or in Iraq, or what! You have no idea. And things just start gradually, you know, they prepare you, it's a natural process. You can't say good-bye to yur grandma, for example, because neighbours might get suspicious, you know, things start that way and then there you are in Rezaieh (a border city)-don't wear new clothing, do this, do that, don't speak Persian, now you pass the border, so go and get into the Kurdish area, do that! And you know it's quite a thriller movie by itself! You know, things that you can never imagine happening to you. And there was one thing—the only time I felt like panicking was what happened to my sister after she fell into cold water and she was frozen! She panicked! Her mind was blocked and she was not able to function at all, and I remember my reaction to that--I was shouting at her, "B, you have to . . " and she had no reaction at all and that point I thought "my God!! It could've been me! My father! What if it was him!" A t least my sister was small, we could carry her. Or "what if two or three of us had fallen into that situation together!" Anyway, in that village in Turkey, my dad had to leave us and go with one Turkish man. They said the girls could wear costumes and be taken by car which they used to 2  143  Taxis. But my dad had to go All girls, no man in the group not-and nothing happened, and me, really, every moment, and  with another man by horse. So there we were. and they could have done any thing-believe it or I always thank God! I could really feel him with so  A: I just want to back-track a little bit. You said that everything was fine you left the south after the war. Can you tell me what you were going through-what kinds of experiences you were going through?  until  CR : I finished high school, and you know how it is in Iran, when you want to go to university, you take the entrance exam and then the computer decides for you what to study and I was lucky because I got my number one choice. I was studying Education, I was close to my parents, and at the same time I had moved out, which I wanted to, so everything-my parents were happy, I was happy, I liked the, well things had changed, I had not been to university before the Revolution but I knew that if it were before the Revolution things could have been much better. See, I had long hair and I used to leave it open and these guys (Muslim fundamentalists) wanted you to wear a veil (head cover) and they wouldn't look into your eyes to talk to you, or they wouldn't talk to you at all!! On the other side, Communists wanted to attract you, and our Assembly (Baha'i administration) had told us not to mention that we were Baha'is unless they asked us. And these people didn't even ask us, but they were wondering which wide do we belong to, we were two Baha'i girls, they were wondering, but I had a great time. We were 18 Baha'is in that university, we were very, very close. We were very united in a sense. I had many friends before and after that, but that was something else, something real precious, we were really united, we could do anything. Especially in those days that every day was a revolution in itself. We could really protect ourselves, help ourselves, and . . . After the war we couldn't stay in touch any more, I can say they are now living in five or six differenty cities all around Iran and because they were all Baha'is it was hard for me to find them, they were hiding, escaping, they couldn't have an address, they could not settle, find a job, so they moved here and there, you see the whole situation . . . in that way. One of my friends was even in prison at that time, and we were all in constant danger. 2  A:  What about before the Revolution?  How  was  life for you  then?  CR : Well, it was a good and fun experience, in high school and all. It's not like Canada, kids don't usually work, parents could and did support them. Even after university I wanted to find a job and the reaction of my parents in Iran was totally different from what I got from them here. They said: "Oh good, you got a job!!" here, but in Iran they said: "But why do you want to work?! We will give you money!" They wanted to give us a very comfortable life, they wanted me to have fun and study well. 2  A:  Did you  CR : 2  have fun?  Yeah, of course, what I expected those days, yeah I had  a great time.  A: Okay. Now let's go back. You said that you escaped to Turkey and all they way, all along the way you were thankful for this experience and you felt that God was with you all along. CR?: Ah, probably I should mention that there were other things, like we did not batne for two weeks after my father left with our things, and we did not have a toothbrush in the villages in Turkey, so you can imagine that after being used to brushing your teeth three times a day how not being able to brush your teeth for  144  about a month would feel like! And other things--you have your have nothing whatsoever, not even a piece of fabric!!  period and you  A: C R , what was it like to decide to leave Iran, what was the experience like? What was your feeling about leaving the country? (leaving behind mother and brother) 2  CR : That's what I am leading to--with all the things happening at the same time, I had no time to think about this, that "I am leaving my country." I just think that that's why I wasn't thinking. I remember it was about 4:30 or 5:00 in the morning when we were crossing the border and this guy said: "Look, do you see that block of stones?!" And we said: "What is it?" He said: "That's the border!!" And God knows that I wasn't thinking that: "Hey! You're leaving your country!!" And for me, I don't know about other people, but I was studying Persian literature. I was in love deeply with my country, Afsaneh. I, I always wanted to finish my bachelor's degree, come to Canada or England, get my degree (Master's) and come back to my country and serve. I wanted my kids to have Persian names, I wanted to travel across Iran. I, I was deeply in love!! You know that most Persian youth don't listen to Persian traditional classical music. I loved it! I was deeply in love with it!. I would listen to other kinds of music, from other countries, I was very open to other kinds of arts and music too, but I could really appreciate what we had. And also my religion, so at that point, I don't, maybe I was so, I don't know, something, so depressed maybe, that my mind wasn't thinking about it as we left. It's very interesting, actually I would like to study it some day and see what was going on inside me emotionally. And even when we were crossing the border everything was so new, you don't have time to think about any borders—there was snow all over, very beautiful! The horizon was red. It was so beautiful! I'd never seen anything like that in my life! It was so beautiful! It was so cold! My ears were painful! My hands were painful! I know that at one point I was crying out and telling my guide: "I'm losing my hands! I know we'll have to cut them!" It was so painful! And the guy took off his gloves and gave them to me, which I didn't accept and so he had to massage my hands. And you know, so many things happening at the same time. I was very tired. I wasn't hungry at all. And I hadn't eaten for a long time, but I wasn't feeling hungry, but I was very, very weak-kind of dizzy—it was really strange, so I think that's why I had no time to react emotionally to the situation-because if you want to survive, you sometimes don't think. Anyways, you see, in Turkey you don't really need a passport, as soon as you get to a police station and say that you've escaped your country you can stay. And we didn't know that—so after one week of living in that village we found out that there was a road that we could get to in ten minutes walk and then after half an hour you could get to a police station. So we didn't know about all this. We were in a car wearing Kurdish clothes, we didn't know one word of Kurdish or Turkish. My cousin, she knew a little Turkish. We were told that the Kurdish women didn't usually have any pieces of identification or cards, and that it didn't because they wouldn't ask for it. We would only have to say that we had a bride to take to the city. And they were really confused themselves, and so within about 200 kilometers there were seven police stations (this was because of the political situation in Turkey) and they all stopped us, every one of them, and they wanted to check everything. And this old lady who was with us from the village changed her station at each station!! At one station, I was supposed to be the bride, at another station I was supposed to be sick and they were taking me to the hospital! It was quite a funny story. We four girls wearing those big, floppy Kurdish dresses on the back seat! We were squeezed, we were pressed. We hadn't had lunch! I had such a headache! I was feeling nauseated. You know, it was such a . . . I remember I said in Persian to my sister that each day we think this is it! It couldn't be any worse! But the next 2  145  day something new happened and started thanking God it was so nice sister, can we go back to yesterday!  for your yesterday, of  God  So we finally got to a hotel in a small city. This hotel was checked by the police all the time and the manager took our passports, and we simply handed them over to him. And we asked for our passports back-you see, passports were very important to us. We had several sweaters on and had made sort of secret pockets in them and put our passports in them. You see, they were very important to us. And my dad didn't have any money. All we had was about 5,000 liras, which is really nothing. So he handed us 1,000 each, in case we got separated, so we each kept a passport and 1,000 liras in that pocket all the time. Now we had lost this precious passport. He said he would give them back to us. And I'd been in many hotels before and I knew he had no right to keep our passports. So the next morning he came to us and he was very nervous and he told us that the police was there and we had to make up a story very quickly. We didn't know where my dad was. We didn't know whether the police had him, nothing! We only had one hotel number in Ankara to check and see if he was. We did, but nobody knew of him there. And we didn't know. The police could have gotten my father and he might have given them one story and our story had to match his! So we decided to just tell them that we have lost my father and that we are Baha'is. Because they were against Communists. Even if you were a political refugee from Iran, if you were a Communist they would want to return you. And since it was very cold we had scarves on, head covers, they thought we were Muslim like the Mujahidins and they didn't ask us. And we had a translator and he told us in Persian quickly: "Even if you are Communists don't tell them because they will return you!" And then there was this guy from the army and he was honest and nice and he said that he understood us. And we told him that we'd lost my father and he said that we hadn't and my father was in such and such city and he is in prison. And we thought "Well, at least he's safe! And he's not somewhere out in the mountains!" And we were going to join him. It was funny that we had gone through all the seven police stations and this police officer would show our passports to his poor and very young policemen and say: "Are you blind and are you stupid or something? To let four girls single-handedly escape your stations without noticing that they are not Kurdish?!" And he was amazed, he used to call us "Lionesses"-very brave and very powerful, that we could do something like this in such a country. And he was also amazed that none of these soldiers had touched us!! I guess it was very unusual. Anyway, we joined my dad and we waited for the Ankara head office to tell us whether it was okay for us to move to Istanbul and wait there for a visa or whatever. So up to this point nobody in Iran knew what had happened to us absolutely. Nobody knew. The first thing we did was to contact our relatives in the States to call Iran and tell them about us. And one of my cousins in the States, I don't know how, it was really amazing, but he could find my dad in that remote, far, very small border city, in prison, find him and talk to him on the phone. This was almost impossible! Because in Turkey you cannot contact different cities-the phone system is so awful, it is really ridiculous. So we took the bus to Ankara and to Istanbul. It took us about three days, I guess. That is another story, because I wasn't able to sleep on that bus ride, I had no appetite and it was quite hard, really. By the time we got to Istanbul I was exhausted. And we were in Istanbul for I don't remember, one or two weeks. Because we had very little money we were in a very, very cheap hotel in a very, very cheap neighbourhood-uh, even after all the hardships we were glad to be safe and could wash your face and brush your teeth and so on, but there was no hot water in that hotel and it was really cold in Istanbul. I remember I used to wash our clothes in the sink with cold water and then hang  146  it in the room and cold water would run all over the floor and we didn't know how to mop the floor and things like that! We were five people in a room for three with three beds. But it was okay because you could feel that you were doing something. You are moving from a war. Something is happening. Then people in the U.N. office said that "Baha'is should leave Turkey because they're not safe here because there are many spies from Iran." I wanted to go to Canada. My cousin wanted to go to Germany, also my dad. The other one wanted to go to the U.S. and we didn't know how hard it was to get a visa. So this lady at immigration told us that the best to do is to go to Spain because they didn't require visas at that time. So we did. And after eight months my mother and my brother joined us. Anyway, in Spain we almost lived for two years. A:  Why  did you want to come to Canada?  CR : I'm not sure. I used to, you're from Iran, yu know what we thought of education in the West, rather than in Iran, besides, it was very hard to enter university in Iran, and it didn't mean that you were dumb or what, you might have been the best student and still not pass the exam, so you always wanted to be on the safe side if you could afford it, so before I graduated from high school, my attitude was to prepare everything for Canada. So I gave my translated documents to the embassy and send them to Canada-for education's sake. But then I passed the exam and got into university in Iran and I forgot about Canada. But again, sometimes I thought of getting my bachelor's in Iran and coming to Canada to finish and then go back. So when I was in Turkey I had nothing in mind. The first step was to leave Iran and then decide. We knew it was hard to get a visa for any country. We didn't realize that it was almost impossible. So I thought, I'll get to Turkey and then decide. And then when they asked me I said Canada and it's stayed with me for forever! And I guess I started the whole thing. Because immigration-wise we could have stayed in Spain but education-wise and the kinds of things that were happening were exactly like before the Revolution in Iran, politically. Like university strikes-and I thought, "I don't want this! It is much safer in Canada and much more stable and-once was enough!" I didn't want to have to go through the whole experience of uprooting again! But I really liked the place and the people. 2  A: C R , I have a question to ask you. really out of Iran first strike you? 2  When did the thought  that you are  CR : Well, there is one thing I want to say, but it has to be very confidential. I mean, I don't want anyone to know about it, but since it's important for this~I had a boyfriend whom I wanted to marry and in fact it was him who said I should leave the country and go for my education, otherwise no ?? how dangerous it could get I wanted to stay and after a year I was with him I understood that we were in love, that was true, but our marriage couldn't be--couldn't work out, I mean we were two different people and, but I was ready to sacrifice-it wasn't logical but I was ready to do it! And he was the one who sacrificed and said that " you should go." And I did! And the first time that I really realized that I'm not in Iran, that I'm in Turkey—one night I looked at his picture and decided to tear it and threw it away. And, at that point I understood that: "Here I am! I cannot go back! I knew what I was doing. I'm here. I'm trying to go to another country, and then another and another until I establish myself somewhere. I'm not going to see him again. It is over and so . . . " I was, yeah, that was the first time after so many hard moments that I cried. When I threw his picture in the garbage. You know, those little pieces of picture . . . didn't look like him any more but, it was something I knew with my heart and I cried so hard, and so badly and everybody came to me, you how Iranians are, they all ran 2  147  out of their rooms to see what had happened. And that was the first time! I just found deep inside that the most precious thing that I had was gone and that point, you know, I wasn't thinking of my country as much as I was thinking of him. Yes, they were in a sense related. Leaving him was leaving the country and leaving Iran was leaving him and so on--that was the first time. In a way, throwing his picture away was a symbol of breaking away from my country. That was the first time. But up to two years ago it was really hard! It is now five years that I've left Iran, but in the first year that I was in Canada I had dreams that I was in Iran. I also had dreams of being in Canada and even speaking English in my dreams, but being in Iran, being with my friends, things that could happen, they always happen to my friends, you know, it was a real, real strong attachment. A:  What do you  mean by  dreams?  CR : Well, you know, the kind of dream that something happens to you during the day and you have a dream at night. Okay, the whole thing happens in Canada, but you want to react to it you react in Iran with your old friends. You relate everything to your past-I was still living in the past, unconsciously. 2  A:  Okay.  Tell me  about the time you  came to Canada.  What was  that like?  CR : Well our trip seemed so endless that I remember when I saw my cousins and aunt and uncle at the airport (here) after seven years, I was so tired and so sick of the flight that I had no reaction and they (laughs), they were really hurt!! I had no feelings at all! I just didn't want to get into any other airplanes. I wanted to be on the ground and walk! I was feeling sick, you know, and very tired. It was really, and when we arrived in Canada, this lady in Montreal asked me something in French, and I didn't speak French, I could speak a little English, so I thought: "I should tell her somehow that I don't speak French," so I started speaking Spanish! And at that point I stopped and thought: "My God! I'm not even speaking Persian to her! Why Spanish?!" I knew enough English to tell her that I don't speak French! 2  A:  How  did that make you  feel?  CR : Oh! I was puzzled! I wasn't able to say one more word at all! I was . . . And that was when we were mixing all other things. Everybody was in a hurry, rushing from the immigration office (at the airport), carrying out baggage, and this lady was asking for something! In terms of my English, I had learned a little bit of English in Iran. I was able to manage in Turkey and in Spain. But after some time in Spain, we used to do everything in Spanish and so my English was a mixture of Spanish and English. I wasn't able to concentrate on English and that happened for a ?? in Canada. When I got here, I went to Douglas College. After four months I went to college. I had English assessment and I don't know why but they said that I was able to take course 130. This was an English course designed for E S L students but it was considered as an English course. As well, I took two Spanish courses, second year Spanish. Because I wanted to learn more and not forget what I already knew. But the English course was very hard. I wasn't able to understand what the teacher was talking about, what I was supposed to do and in Iran, they never taught us how to write the way they're expecting us to write here. So I remember, a Persian Baha'i girl was in our class. I used to call to her and say: "What'd he say? What are we supposed to do?" and so on. And even when she translated things to me I didn't know how to do things! So the whole thing was really disappointing and hard. And I failed the course. I got an N which means you have to take it again and after that I didn't want to speak a word of English to 2  148  anyone!! I remember I hated it! Meanwhile I had my First job in Canada which was another mistake! It was phone publicity! I wasn't even able to convince these people to buy these things that I was selling. And besides that, I didn't believe in what I was doing either! You know, it was a bunch of nonsense! So I lost my job after the first week! I wasn't selling anything. It was hard! I mean, there were Canadians who lost their jobs too. But to me it was more personal. A:  What did you feel?  What do you mean by personal?  CR : Well, my English was so poor I wasn't able to keep a job! And I hated the supervisor from the first day, even when I was filling my application form. Anyways, so I didn't want to speak any more English. I used to love speaking English when I was in Iran. My English wasn't great, but it wasn't . . . I mean, for that environment and high school my English was pretty high! I was proud of it! And I had a very good English teacher, here, at Douglas College. And he knew what the problems were and he was trained to work with E S L students and he was advising me himself. So I talked to him and he told me what courses I should take, E S L courses. So I finally took the same course the next semester and I passed with a BH But, you know, now I look at my papers and I'm so thrilled, I can sit there and laugh at them for hours, when I read them!! Anyway, I could feel the progress of my English. Like I used to go places, youth conferences and meetings and not understand a word of what they were talking about. And after six months I would go hear the same person talk and understand a little more, and after six months I understood more! 2  A:  What was that feeling like?  CR : Oh!! It was great!! And what I always do with languages I'm studying is that I underline words I don't know and then go back to them after a few months and it's amazing how many of these words you've learned without studying or thinking about them. I'm not great in languages, but I'm not bad either. I'm just used to comparing myself with my sister. She's very good in learning languages, but I also think she's also six years younger and that can make a difference. And also like my mom, who's having a really hard time learning it and adjusting and adopting a new culture and language. 2  A: Tell me about your process of adjustment to this culture. for you to adjust? You told me about the language . .  What was it like  CR : Well, even in Iran I wasn't really very Persian and I always used to do some things that others couldn't accept. You know, like I was a strange kind of person. I remember once my aunt called me a gypsy who was against every tradition. But I wasn't! And I never considered that as a generation gap or anything. And even now, the kinds of friends I like to have, to most of the Persians they look strange. The way I loke to dress looks strange! Last week I sent to a . . . They said: "Oh, you re so punky tonight. We couldn't recognize you!" I said, "No, I look the same!" There's something about me, I don't know what? I never go too far in anything, but, so in those terms there wasn't any shock to me in taht sense. There were exceptions though, like, being a Baha'i, I remember once we had this meeting and one of the Canadian Baha'is laid down right there in the middle of the living room while everybody was sitting in their chairs and he just felt tired and laid down. Ah! I couldn't keep my eyes off him, I was so shocked! My God! What on earth is he doing?! He is such a gentleman, he's so knowledgeable, so well respected, a Baha'i, you know! I couldn't find any answer to that. That was three years ago. So it was harder for my sister and my brother. They would come back from school and say: "They 2  149  did this, they did that! I found this in the corridor." You know, and I would say, "My God!" They were really strange. I couldn't accept them. But I didn't face them myself. I heard them from other people. And besides, being in Spain which was like a bridge between these two cultures, because Spain, the whole country was like a Persian being in Canada, because the new generation was bringing up something that the old generation could not accept at all. Like free sex and nude beaches and things like that, which was very new for Spanish people as well. So we were getting ready in those two years, you know, like people kissing each other on the streets and things like that. A: C R , you mentioned being a Persian in Canada. Tell me you. What does "being a Persian in Canada" mean to you? 2  what that means to  CR : I guess I faced this way and felt that difference a few times, with different experiences. I'll tell you one of them: I went out with this gorgeous guy. He's very tall. He didn't look to be the same age as I was, but he was. He was a doctor, he, you know, you cannot find a girl who would say "no" to him. 2  A:  And he was a Canadian?  CR : Yes, and for a 26-year-old guy who had accomplished so much, he was a real gentleman. He had a very good education, very good family, but still he was from this culture, you know, it was nothing for him to have sex with someone. 2  A:  How  long ago is this?  CR : Oh, recently. So we went out, we had dinner and that night I had tried to get the car so that we could go here and there and have fun, but I couldn't. So both of us had to take the bus from two different directions and meet somewhere. I mentioned that "it's too bad I couldn't get the car and he said: "Yeah, I wish you had the car." I said, "What would you like to do? Maybe we can still do it?" He said, "I would like us to go to my room!" It was such a shock to me that for a while I wasn't sure if I had interpreted it correctly. And he could see the shock. (end of tape side) 2  CR : Anyway, he smiled, he was about to laugh even, and he says, "Come on, relax, I just want to have fun with you!" and he had no idea how insulting that sentence was to me. You know, I just, I thank God that we were in a restaurant, otherwise I would have slammed him right away, and it was so insulting, because before that he was talking about how sophisticated I am, how wise I am and so on. At one point he thought that I was twenty-nine year old and I laugh and said "Come on, you're kidding!" and he said "No, really!" and I said "Why?" . He said, "because you're so sophisticated when you speak, you're so wise" you know, and . . . and then I couldn't believe him, that he was twenty-six because, I thought, well, he was a doctor, so at least thirty, you know. So I told him that he wasn't, after what he said, I told him that he wasn't as sophisticated as I thought of him to be and he said, "I just wanted to have fun!" I said "Well, I'm sorry. I spoiled your night!" He was from Toronto, he was here to stay for two nights. I said "I'm really sorry that I've spoiled it. I can go home and then you can have fun, however you like, and he said "Oh come on! I'm really enjoying being with you" and so on. So it was really a good experience for me because I thought he was a doctor, I had a whole different image of him, you know. I thought I knew everything after being almost three years in Canada. I didn't, I mean, him being a doctor! He was so seductive! I realized I didn't know! Because then he changed. It wasn't his fault, it was my fault, because, only because he had accomplished so much, I was expecting too much from him, you know, I forgot that he is, he's Canadian, his background is Yugoslavian. But 2  150  they drink, they have sex, and it's nothing to them, I mean, he's so good-looking that I'm sure none of the girls that he has been in touch with so far said no to him. So he was shocked and so it changed the whole conversation through the night and I wasn't able to handle it. We started to get to know each other--we were just kind of walking, spontaneously, in Vancouver, downtown, just walking for, God knows, three or four hours. A:  This is after the incident?  CR : Yeah, after the dinner, just asking questions, a funny conversation . . . especially 'cause he had a beer and a glass of wine, so he was high, he could laugh and talk, but he was conscious, but we both knew what was going on, and he was able to carry it the way he wanted, I wasn't able to. 2  A:  What was going on for you?  CR : We both knew that we're very different now, ok, we both knew that we are not kids. Biologically we could enjoy each other. He liked me, I liked him, he was really good-looking, really attractive. But there was no point, I mean, at least if I was in love, I would say, you know, at one crazy moment would say yes. But I'd only known him for two days and then, tomorrow he's leaving, and he didn't even want to have my address or give his address to me--what was the point? Was I a prostitute he'd take? You know, so I looked at him and he was the same person! I could still respect him! He had the same knowledge that he had before, he had the same looks as he had before. Nothing had changed, it was only my expectatation of him, it's too much, I guess I was hurt, you know, I don't know how I can explain it. I was hurt within myself, my foolishness. 2  A:  What was going on, tell me  what was going on within yourself?  CR : I remember we were walking, it was funny, I was doing two things at the same time. I was talking to him, I was handling a conversation with him, which I had to be very wise, because that conversation was so amazing after that! A t the same time I was checking all the people that I knew that I knew and I respected so much from this culture. I was checking them one by one. What was wrong about them? 2  A:  All men?  CR : Women too, you know, things that might be going on in their lives which is none of my business, but could change their image. And where at one point I felt that, it's okay, having sex is, it's joy, especially if you are attracted to each other, so what is wrong here? You know, so it was only when I got home, my mum was teasing me, my cousin was, everybody was teasing me: how was he, he's good looking, a doctor! Hurry up! Do something! I didn't say anything. Next morning they started again, just teasing, they didn't mean anything and I know I got mad, I turned to them, my dad was there, my uncle was there, my aunt and my mum. My mother first and then my cousin, teasing me, and I turned and I said "we won't meet each other again!" My father said "Why?" I said "because he wanted me to do something that I wouldn't do!" And that was enough, because they knew what I was talking about. And my dad "oh," no-one says anything, we don't communicate about these things at all. But everybody was open, we talked about it, like my aunt asked. Well, you see, this cousin was with us when we came to this part of the world, and my mum joined us after eight months and her mum joined after two-three years, so it wasn't a long time that she was here, so she turned to her daughter and said: "So tell me, would it change anything?" and my cousin said, "what?" She said "Well, would he fall in 2  151  love because she said no?" And my cousin said, "No! He wouldn't care!" And my aunt said "why! Wouldn't that change the image?" She said, "sure it changes her image, now he would think of C R . as a crazy, stupid girl who said no to such a wonderful opportunity to be with such a wonderful guy!" And I was thinking that, "My God, this is what happened!" I didn't want that to happen. I have his address and God knows, I will find him someday in Toronto, only because I don't want him to have that kind of image of me, if he does by any chance. Because at the end of the night we also talked about the Baha'i faith, which he was very interested in, but we didn't get a chance to talk more, but the funny thing for me, Afsaneh, was that I couldn't get rid of that strange feeling. I didn t know what it was, I couldn't figure why I was depressed for a few days. And I decided to see a counsellor. And it took the counsellor to give me an appointment after one month maybe, so this thing was with me. And I guess I was thinking of not being able to solve it, or find out what it is or analyze it by myself and I needed to talk with someone. So there I was, my counsellor was there. I wanted to see a woman, . . . was a man, which, I didn't want it to take any longer, so I said, "that's okay." He asked me, he said, "Would you rather see a woman?" and I said "No." And I was there, and he said, "Okay, go on" and I told him, I had to explain, right? So I talked for maybe fifteen minutes and then he said "Great, you did the right thing" and "I'm glad to hear this. You have no problem!" So I didn't know what to say, so I looked at him, and I said "I know, logically I have no problem, but I still have that feeling, which I'm not sure what it is." And he wanted me to leave his office with the same feeling, same situation, he didn't change anything, and he said "what do you want me to tell you?" And at the very moment when he said that, I realized that there is no problem. All that's going on was that, well I was 26, I can have sex and enjoy it, but I cannot accept it. 2  A:  Why?  CR : Not the way he wanted sex. I want love, you know, I'm not a machine, I'm not, you know. No matter how attractive he is physically, I want to enjoy it emotionally as well and I can not do that without love. I don't know how these people could enjoy it that way! I don't think they could actually and I felt, I know the whole Persian, the whole Baha'i community would be against me, but I might have sex before marriage someday, but L must love him and trust this love, it has to be a relationship that is going to end in a marriage. It has to be something that I can trust to last forever, you know, and that was it, I guess. The other thing that was bugging me was that why, why on earth should I give him so much credit for something he wasn't. On the other hand, you cannot blame him either, he is a fine person too, as a product of this culture, he is okay, I am okay, there's nothing, what is wrong is this culture, you know, he has learned to have sex because if he didn't, they would make fun of him and I've learned not to, because if I do, I would be rejected. But that smile on his face that he found me shocked is bothering me. 2  A:  But what's he telling you?  What did you hear him say with that  smile?  CR : That, you know, I felt that he was looking at me like in a nun from a church on top of the mountains that has never been touched by a manand doesn't know how to react and is nervous but wanted, you know, like I wanted you badly, but I was nervous, I was afraid, so I said no, and by the end of the night I changed that part of it. He knew that, I knew what I'm doing. He knew that I very well knew whether I will do it or not, and why not. He thought I was wrong, but he respected me, he respected all my culture, everything, I respected him. He couldn't understand that, because we were two completely different people, you know, we were too . . . He was respecting me, at the end of the night he 2  152  was respecting me even more, but I guess being a Baha'i helped, and if I hadn't discussed the Baha'i faith at one point, I have to admit it. He was, we were both really tired after walking so much and talking so much and, you know, he had drunk, so he was really dizzy at that time, poor guy had to take the bus and it would take him one hour to get home and everything was like. But he could feel that there was something precious somewhere here, but he didn't really figure out what it was, and that's why I want him to know, I have no problem, I can find in Toronto and I will find him too, you know, I'm sure, because the way he said goodbye we were good friends but we knew that we don't have to be involved at all, other than a normal friendship. A: You mentioned being a Baha'i. Do you think that being to do with feeling the difference between you?  a Persian has much  CR : I have asked myself this question! I don't know if I can discriminate, but I guess if I were a Muslim things could be different. 2  A:  . . . Baha'i . . .  CR : • • • affectionate, you know, . . . the kind of person that I am, I'm really open to . . . he was saying, I mean, he even asked me . . . tell them that . . . such and such situation what would she do, they would say that she might do it, you know, that's the kind of image I know that some people do have of me. But, so a non-Persian, a non-Baha'i Persian girl, chances are maybe eighty percent that they would do it! You know! 2  A:  He was that good-looking, huh!  CR : Oh boy! That was a test for me. I came home and I sort of prayed and I said "God, thank you! I don't know how you got me" I could feel the detachment at that point 2  A: had  Did you find it difficult? because . . .  I mean, amidst all the emotional feelings that you  CR : Okay, I'm sorry, I should clear up something here. That Persian girl would say no, but would be willing to get more involved with him, yeah. But I didn't, I mean, I have his address, I never contacted him, because I want to meet him in a situation this time, you know, to create an opportunity for him to meet the Baha'i community, and know the Baha'i faith, like me, that's the only thing I'm thinking about now, you know, so I don't think any Persian would unless they had experiences before. 2  A: Yeah, they had the experience before. Okay. C R . you've touched on something that's very important, okay, and that's about values and I want to keep it at that and get on with this journey that you're taking and tell me more. You can use more examples like this one and the feelings you had. I'm not interested in the events as much, but more what you experienced 2  CR : 2  A:  in Canada Yeah, in Canada  CR : Well, I've been so involved in going to school, and finding a job, you know, that look! There is a point I should say maybe could be of interest that it has been quite boring for me in the last few years, quite boring, quite boring. Things that you can do in Canada, for instance: skiing or ice skating, which I've never 2  153  learned in my life. It was after the Revolution when I really started out of home life and, you know, most of my time was spent in school, and I've never been the kind of person to go out after school and these activities. So in that way I miss on, so many friends, so many-fun. Then financially I can not afford to have fun. Like, we get together and they want to go to this restaurant and then go to that movie and then go to that disco and by the end of the night it turns out to be forty, fifty dollars-I cannot afford that, and A:  "They," who are "they"?  Canadian  friends or Iranians?  CR : Both. Some of them understand, and some of them don't. Some of them don't try to understand at all. They'll say "she is boring, we don't want to be with her." Some of them at least come to you and say: "Why?," you know, "you're not coming?" And things like that. In terms of Iranians, Persian, Baha'i community that I am involved with, I can't find friends, I don't know why, it's very hard for me. Usually my friends are older than I am. Like, before, in Iran, for example, I was in university. They were one year older, or one year younger, or my age, but I could always have good friends among older people. In Canada I have some Canadian friends who are older ten years, 20 year, five years older, but I want . . . the same age and younger. I cannot, I can not find someone in Baha'i community in particular to be really interested in and enjoy being with 2  A:  ...  CR : 2  A:  Whatever, I guess I cannot Are you talking about Persians or Canadians?  CR : 2  Both, in the Baha'i community.  A: Okay, so you're telling me you can get close to . . . CR : 2  A:  that you could not find a good friend.  Someone  Yeah I wonder why?  CR : 2  A:  I don't know What is it that they make you feel? . . .  CR : For Persians, I guess I could divide them into two major groups: some who are very rich and no matter what nationality, what religion, I cannot get along with them, because, um, I would be different a person, anyway, even if I had the same amount of money. They haven't had experiences that I had in the last few years. They don't understand me, you know—the kind of movies they want to watch, the kind of activities they want to have, the kind of conversations that they have, they're so, I won't say that I'm more mature, but they're just, they have a long way to go, you know. And the older ones, well, they're usually married and I'm not interested in them, you know, I always felt that I shouldn't be really involved in any relationships, you know, friendships, with married people, no matter if it the wife or the husband, I don't want it. And, you see, the other group, Persians, I mean, those who are not as rich, or probably are the same as I am, they are very different. Most of them, I'd say, very, very, they don't seem to be from this generation, they're from two generations, you know 2  154  A:  Iranian  CR : Yeah, and of course nothing can change for their kind of behaviour, whatever. So, again, I can't blame anyone, I am the one who's having problems in this case. But it's hard for me to understand but I was the one who used to receive calls, now I am the who makes calls, you see what I mean. I was the one that people were willing to be friends with. Sometimes I had problems like I didn't want to be friends with someone and they kept calling and inviting me and so on, now it is the other way around. 2  A:  What do you think has happened?  CR : I don't know, I'm just, I'm actually willing to be lonely and have my moments, especially with the kind of things I would like to do, coming from an art background, things like that--you must have a calm and quiet environment. People who are with you must be able to understand what you are doing, otherwise it is a distraction so, you know, that is changing me, especially in the last four months, which I had to go to school from, I was in school from eight-thirty in the morning till nine, nine-thirty at night in that kind of environment. So you have to do certain things as assignments or whatever for your own personal interest, that other people are not familiar with and can't understand and I'm not that kind of person to show off, so I'm not willing to explain to them either. So, you know, this has created two different worlds 2  A:  So if you keep turning them down, then they won't come back?  CR : No, I won't turn them down, no, but in the last few months, that's the way it has been. Not in the last four months, the last four months nobody has called me, I know, even some of them think that I've moved to Toronto and they're surprised, they think I'm here for a holiday or something when they see me, but even before that, I was wondering what had happened because I'm very open, I love everybody when we get together, I'm fine. 2  A:  Let's make a distinction here.  CR : 2  A:  Everybody.  Are you talking about Persians  or Canadians?  In general.  Oh, so you feel you have experience with both groups, not just one group?  CR : Yes. That is, that has become a personal thing. Before, well I have had funny experiences with Canadians not being able to understand what I was saying, you know, made funny mistakes, things like that. 2  A:  Tell me  about that.  What's . . . do you have any close Canadian friends?  CR : A t the moment I don't have any close friends at all, very close, you know, the kind of friend that you get home and you call them in between and you want to talk to them or you see each other 2  A:  Yes, in terms of intimate friends.  CR : 2  A:  No, I don't have any Have you ever had any close Canadian friends?  CR : 2  No.  155  A:  You didn't have any close Persian friends?  CR : I had a friend from Australia who was living here for a while and he could be a close friend, I mean, we were really open, and he left. He wasn't Canadian, he was from Australia. But 2  A: Let me Canadians? CR :  way-do you find it easy  to get close to  It is more difficult.  2  A:  ask the question in another  So you choose options, is that what you're  saying?  CR : I guess there aren't many opportunities. There are people that I can get along with-they like me, I like them, they're very busy, I'm very busy, so we meet every six months or once a year, so there isn't much chance to get close. But I can see that we could be close friends. 2  A:  So you don't see any walls?  CR :  No difficulty, no.  2  A:  It was mainly  in the beginning, when I first got here  Oh, so it's a language problem?  CR :  Yeah  2  A:  A  communication problem?  CR : Actually, Afsaneh, I know we're trying to cover the whole period of being in Canada but I'm facing these cultural differences now, you know, where I am, because that school, we are in our groups, so we are going to be together for two years, every day, for many hours, and we become friends 2  A:  And previously you would not have the experience of facing a Canadian  CR : No (end of tape side) The interesting thing is that it's happening after three years being here now I can communicate, now I can understand what they're saying and at school they're mostly teenagers because they're coming out of high school. There are some students, quite a few, who are my age or older, and usually married, and obviously I get along with them much better. But in particular those people that I'm really interested in talking to and I can get along very well with, are my teachers. And they like me, too. It is an environment that there are no barriers between teacher and student. 2  A:  Here, comparing it with Iran . . .  CR : Well, even in Canada, I mean, in that particular program, that Fine Arts department, there is no such thing, there couldn't be. There are not that kind of people any more, and . . . 2  A:  What school are you going to?  CR : Langara. Even someone from another department in Langara would come down and feel strange about it, they're really close, you know. He is your teacher, you go out with him and dance with him, so on, they're really open, and there are the people I might get along with. But this is the time that I can really feel the differences. You know seeing these teenagers change boyfriends and 2  156  girlfriends, every day in the same group. One day they would really get involved with someone and, you know, and next day it's someone else, and I go, "Oh, what happened?, you know, and then I look at other people-nobody's surprised, I'm the only one who's surprised, like, . what is going on here! And then I go and talk with some of them, you know, what is going on? I want to see how they feel. Because I sometimes see that nobody's surprised. These are machines, some kind of machine or something, something wrong with these people, and there is something wrong with it, they are having problems, this is not me, who has the problem, but then I talk to them, they're surprised too. It's just not, so maybe it is not normal for them to react, they think maybe. And they have understood me by now, you know, it is not easy for them to, I mean, they are having problems understanding me, in terms of culture and behaviour, for example, we had this party and they knew I wouldn't drink-that was okay, many of those Christian Canadians didn't drink either and, for example, I was dancing-they knew that I was religious, as they call it, and so I went and almost started the dance and they were surprised. "We didn't know that you danced" and I said, "look," you know, where did they get this idea? Of course I dance, I'm crazy about it, I dance crazy." And then one of our teachers was drunk and he sees me, so he came up to me and he said, for weeks he had been trying to resolve to be able to dance with me at least once and I always said "okay, okay" and that night I just didn't, so he came and said "I know you hate me, but please dance with me, pretend." I said "okay," so as we were dancing he said, "You don't mind when I tease you in class?" I said "no, as long as you don't mind if I tease you." He said "no." I said "that's fine." So he had his shoes off, dancing, and I decided to hide his shoes somewhere, just teasing, so I told some other people and they did it all together, they went far, I mean, some of them moved the shoe again and again and finally, I didn't know where the shoe was any more and later I found out that the poor guy wasn't able to find one of the shoes and he had borrow a running shoe from one of his students and, you know, it was. . I mean, after he obviously wasn't drunk any more, he was mad anyways, he had fun, and I had fun, and. . But he would come to me, still, after two weeks, come to me and laugh, and say, "I couldn't imagine you'd do such a thing, you're so quiet, you're so this and that, you know, and I thought, I always tell, them "well, you don't know me" A:  How  do you feel when they say that?  CR : Well, they know my age, they know that I'm, as they call it, religious, you know, I've talked about it and they know I don't drink, they know I'm, they don't ask, but I'm sure they know, or they can guess, that I won't have sex as they might. So, and they respect me a lot, and I know more than most of them do, you know, I'm not a teenager any more, and the kind of life I've had, they haven't, so it's normal, they time to know me and on occasions like that, parties and dinners and going out together 2  A:  So you accept that, so you . . . ?  CR : Yeah, yeah, it's okay. But I always tell them that now you realize that you were wrong. But they still laugh, I mean, it was unimaginable for them to see me do such things and, because they are the weird people, and nobody did such a thing at the party, which, . . . They are so weird, They might dance in the middle of a teacher's lecture, but they didn't dance at the party, whereas during the lectures I am quiet and, you know, but in the party I would dance, so I guess I'm more balanced than they are, you know, and they're starting to understand that. Things like that. Sometimes I get really surprised, or maybe shocked, at school, at the stories I hear from them, you know, using drugs and so on. But considering the kind of people that they are, you know, they're going to 2  157  be artists, they think they have to be open, there shouldn't be any traditions and customs and so on. And the kind of environment that we are having at that department, I think that these are very nice people, they could go really far in using drugs and having sex and so on. So considering all these things they're really good people, they're really nice teenagers, they know what's going on, and so there aren't many opportunities for me to be culture-shocked, yet! But, you know, and these are the things that I already knew, you know, but you hear them from other people. Now you can actually see someone who has done such and such, so you go "wow!" But I talk to them, and they are not, they come out of that obscurity after I talk to them and I start to understand that it is not really their culture either. This is a generation, there's social problems, . . . different things are going on at the same time. A:  Do you feel that they understand you and your background?  CR : They started out asking questions, many questions and they say that they are not able to understand, but after a while they do. But again, I'm not that far from what they were, you see. I am somehow different from what other people might be in my culture as well, so I'm not a stranger, or an outsider 2  A: Are you saying that you did not, for the most part, feel understood by Canadians? CR : Most of the time, for these people, in particular, most of the time I'm a question 2  A:  You are a question  CR : Yeah, there are many things they don't know, and they come and ask . . . "how do you write?," "how do you speak?" . . . 2  A:  Do you feel frustrated when they do?  CR : 2  A:  No, I enjoy it actually, I enjoy it. Can they know?  Can they  Because I want them to know  understand?  CR : They have to ask many questions to understand it, they have to discuss it, and they do. They have learned how to open something and really analyze it. 2  A:  Do you feel judged?  CR : Well that one example that they're so surprised of what I did at the party-I didn't know that I was but I guess I was, but I didn't know it. 2  A:  Do you feel judged by Persian . . . ?  CR : I think so, I have some examples with my relatives when I talk I'm real frank and sometimes they don't like it, and they don't like it because they know that C R . knows how to behave like a Persian girl and they don't understand why I would behave in that way and 2  2  A:  So they'd say "you know better"  CR : That's part of their logic, I mean I respect them, but something, you know, when they go too far there is no point, I just tell them, you know, that's the way I am, and they don't like it. 2  158  A:  Was  that the case in Iran too?  CR : Sometimes, I told you my so mad at me, you know. 2  A:  aunt called me  a gypsy once, because she was  Has that increased in Canada?  CR : 2  A:  Well, how can I answer you?  You want me  Okay, do you feel more judged by Persians here?  to . . . judgement Do you feel the judgement?  CR : No, and I have two reasons. Or, there are two reasons. One is that they are living the same situations, same culture, you know, they've been trying to adopt a new culture themselves--all of them have young children around, I mean, I am okay, you know, they have younger kids who are really having problems and I'm not in contact with them, I'm not in touch that much with many Persians And they don't really know much about me. A l l they see is the way I act in meetings and there isn't much to do and you sit there and listen and discuss something, so they haven't had a chance yet. I guess they would if they had the chance. 2  A: When they had a chance. Okay what about you mentioned about friends, and how you don't have any close ones and I wonder how it feels? CR : I sometimes tend to think about it, and I don't like it and I have noticed that I tend to think about it when I need a friend and I don't have one. And that hurts. I don't like it. You know, but I cannot expect it because I think I'm being selfish that way and I'll tell you why. I have friends who I can always go to but sometimes I'm waiting for someone to give me a call and, you know, that is when you want to satisfy yourself that, oh, I'm being attractive or important, or whatever and I don't like it. So at that moment when I need someone, if I was ever to analyze the situation get to those points that's fine, if not, that hurts, you know, you start feeling lonely and "why is this happening? Why me? Why did everything change so much?' 2  A:  Why  CR : 2  A:  do you think that everything has changed?  I have changed. How?  CR : I'm not sure. Well, I'm older in my age, then I'm older experience-wise, I am expecting, I'm not being reasonable, actually to expect more of myself, more than what I could do. For example, the doctor that I told you about, well look what's happened in his life, so he's a doctor at the age of twenty-six, I am not, so what. I cannot blame myself for what's happened, you know, I'd no control. But for a moment, it can upset me. 2  A: Okay, so what I'm hearing you say is "I can put myself down and I can blame m y s e l f CR : Exactly, but . . I did the best that anyone could do in those situations. I tried to learn something—there was no use for those things, like learn how to type or how to drive, or how to be a good nurse or so on, there was no point, yeah, you couldn't use any of those, nobody would hire you or anything, but I had this hope within myself that something would happen, I will use it someday, so I never gave up. And I didn't, it wasn't easy, we knew that it is hard to leave Iran, 2  159  you know, but I did it. It wasn't easy to learn Spanish, after a few months, after five months I was able to do everything myself, you know, it was an . . . I haven't given up yet, so if I try to be just and think about the experience, I'm happy, otherwise, of course it hurts, I mean, I could graduate at the age of twenty-four but, twenty-four where was I? I was in Canada taking an English course and then failed it, you know. Not to be able to have a job and we needed money as well as the experience and everything. So that of course hurts, but it's not your fault. But sometimes it's hard to remember that. I mean, you are not blaming anyone, but it just hurts, so you have every right to be upset at that point, you know. I just, that's all, that's it. A: C R , when you say, you talk about changes, that's something that I would like us to cover. You've been here three years. I'm sure there have been many changes. What are they? 2  CR : Okay. One change is what you would call the adaptation of a culture, or being adjusted. My dreams are not in Iran any more, they have come to Canada now. Many things 2  A:  Your dreams are not in Iran any more?  Or in Iranian?  CR : Neither one. Oh, I sometimes have dreams of my English to her frequently, things like that 2  A:  grandma and I speak  Okay, so you don't dream of Iran  CR : 2  A:  No, not any more And you did when you first came?  CR : 2  A:  Oh a lot! What did you dream about, going back?  CR : Okay, tell you what one thing, it is not a dream, but that's what happened in Spain. I used to take afternoon naps, you know, really, I love it. And one day I closed my eyes, I wasn't asleep, but I was in Iran, and I knew that I wasn't, I knew that I was in Spain, but I wasn't able to take myself out of that situation. So here I was, I was in my city, I was taking a bus to go to university and so maybe, I don't know how long it took, but anyways, I remembered every detail in the road, in the city, every detail in my dormitary room, every detail of my friends, everything. And I was suffering, Afsaneh, I wanted to open my, I wasn't sleeping, I wanted to open my eyes and get rid of it, but at the same time, it was so tangible, I mean, I was actually in Iran and I did want to open my eyes, I used to think "what's wrong with it?," you know, you ride in Iran 2  A:  What were you suffering from?  1  CR : It wasn't true. I knew I wasn't in Iran, I knew that it wasn't even a dream, and at one point I thought "I'm going crazy" I thought, "that's it," you know, "you're at the edge! That's it!," you know. And then I, it was very funny, actually, I always wanted to tell it a psychologist someday and see what is it? You know, and I wasn't dreaming and I wasn't daydreaming, I mean, I guess, daydreaming, the definition is when you are willing to fantasize, or when you think of some-I wasn't even doing that. I guess I just wanted to be in Iran so badly, and it was amazing, that now if you ask me to tell you all the details 2  160  I can't remember, but at that moment I was able to remember every detail, every house on the block, all the names, all the places, all the streets, and how long it takes to where I used to sleep, and all these things. And it scared me, I mean, I really felt, "that's it, you are crazy, you're finished!," you know. A:  C R , do you miss Iran? 2  CR : Oh sure. But on occasion, sometimes I can easily, some of these people say "would you go back?" and I say "No." And I guess that's when I think of Iran as what it is right now I'm not stupid, it is hell! Who wants to go back, I mean, there is no way, but when I find a good book, a good poem, you know, everything comes back, of course, I loved it. 2  A:  When you think of Iran, what do you think about, go back to?  CR : I don't go back to the moments I had. I go back to what I wanted to happen. I always wanted to study more, literature and travel in Iran, things that I wanted to do and I never did and I always think that I will never do. 2  A:  What's it like to come to grips with this?  CR : It is terrible. It is terrible, because it has become a stereotype-thing, you know, if I read a poem or something, and on occasions there'll be song or something, and then it brings me to this world, to Canada, and in my relationships to all these people and I try to imagine myself married to a Canadian, you know, the best could be Canadian who is willing to learn Persian. I don't know a Canadian, you know, who can accept me as a Baha'i, then everything would be just fine, we'd love each other crazy, but, you know, there are going to be points when he is not Persian, and I want to be Persian like crazy, now what would happen then? And that is the rejection, you know, 2  A:  Rejection?  CR : Yeah, kind of, I don't know . . . It becomes a pain in the neck, you cannot do anything about it, at that point you think, so what, that's it. You are here, you have to be here, you chose to be here, you are, you cannot go back to Iran, you can go to another country, and start all over again, learn another language, or whatever. You cannot go back to Iran, and that hurts. That is not a good feeling. I hate it. And I feel very sorry when I find out that my parents are having more problems than I do, at least I can lose that side of me by being with my friends at school. But they cannot, even when they are surrounded by Canadians. Even when they are enjoying themselves being with Canadians, they remember Iran. They're Iranian. 2  A:  How  about you?  CR : No, not any more. happen to 2  A:  On occasions, I told you, some special thing must  Has this changed from the beginning  when you came?  CR,: Sure. Sure, naturally. Especially when you want to say something in English and you can't. I think then you know, you know the answer or you know this and that, and "God, I wish these people knew Persian!," you know. I don't have that kind of frustration any more to be able to express myself. My language is not great, but doesn't get me frustrated.  161  A: use  I asked you "what is the feeling to know that you a metaphor to explain that?  can't go back?"  Can  you  CR : I guess it goes back to why you can't go back. Because I always wanted to come to Canada to study. But you could always go back on holidays. You could ask your mom to send you a Persian tape, you could ask for a this and that book. You know, the situation is different. You're locked out of your country, not by your own choice and still that is okay, what hurts is that, the hard part is that they are destroying everything that I love in that country, and I could give you one example. When we were leaving Iran we went to Tabriz and one mullah was trying hard to destroy one of the historical monuments in that city. And he did, he tried three times, he put bombs and dynamite everywhere, to destroy that beautiful, whatever," I mean, we cannot have that any more, he was trying to destroy just to have a piece of land to say prayers on Friday morning, which he could find that piece of land anywhere. And nobody was able to, everybody was upset, but nobody was able to stop this guy, and to me, from the moment I heard it, to now, I cannot understand, you know, this is our culture, this is our history, some guy doesn't feel like being Persian, someone who obviously has no values, as a moslem or as a Persian, has the power to do such a thing, and nobody says "don't!" Nobody even. Nobody! Everybody&#