Journalist and Counselor
Siamak: I’ve been a journalist in Iran for about 24 years. I studied political science at one of the best universities in my country. I was always the more creative journalist, not the kind to sit in the office and write something. I’m not an analyzer. I want to get out and see everything, even what’s hidden. That’s why I went to Iraq to cover the war there.
How did you feel about your husband going to Iraq to do this kind of reporting?
Farzaneh: It was horrible. It lasted one month. Every night he called us and said, “Okay, I’m fine.” We were waiting for his call every single day. The BBC’s photographer was killed at the same time in the same place.
What do you see in Siamak’s personality that motivates him to take these risks?
Farzaneh: He’s so pigheaded. He is. He wants to do whatever he wants, or whatever he thinks is the right way to move forward. We just let him go because we know he’s going to do it anyway. It’s good for him. This is his personality. He wants to find his answers any way he can.
What has it been like to live in the United States?
Siamak: When I arrived here, I was a guest at the best hotel near Capitol Hill. I was invited to the White House. Then there was a big ceremony in New York, so we went there. I received a personal award for 2015. And then, after 10 days, everything was finished. I needed to find work. Life got challenging again.
Driving has been very good for me. I have a chance to communicate with people, getting to know the culture and place. Understanding these differences is very important for me as a driver, but also as a journalist and human, too. You can’t learn this through studying in a political college or university. You have to get out and communicate. You’ll encounter people during a normal day, or when they’ve been drinking, or when their life is hard. During trips, I’ve talked with people in many situations. Sometimes they’re sad, sometimes they’re happy.
Uber is very well known here—that you can earn good money. We’ve worried about the cost of an apartment, buying a car, the insurance, the cell phone. With Uber, I drive as much as I can.
I do this for my family. Education is very important to Iranian families. Many are not rich, but they pay for their children to attend school. My son goes to community college and is transferring to George Mason University.
Farzaneh: Our priority is our son. He has his future in front of him and he has a long way to go. Unfortunately, because of our residency situation, we can’t get any kind of scholarship. I have my master’s in clinical psychology, yet I’m working in a coffee shop. I have plenty of experience working as a counselor and teacher back in my country, but here I’m a barista. I’m okay with that. But my husband is a well known journalist.
Siamak: Here in the U.S. I have limitations. The first is my language, but this country and culture are still unknown for me. I need to learn. Books aren’t enough to understand a place and its people.
Photo: Magda Zofia
People | Place | Community