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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 February, 2004, 15:57 GMT
Iranian penfriends: Tehran to California
Parsha, a 17-year-old born in the San Fernando Valley of California knows Iran only from the memories of his parents who left Iran 30 years ago. He dreams of visiting the country. Across the seas in Tehran, Arash is a 16-year-old studying computer science in a non-profit secondary school, quite happy to live in Iran. Here is what they had to say to each other in an email correspondence.

Parsha:
I spend my free time with my friends and what we do depends on whether I'm with my Iranian or American friends. With Iranian friends we often go to family gatherings or go to other places that are more Iranian. With my American friends we go to weekend parties, do sports or other things so we're not bored. On the weekends I go to the gym with one of my friends.

Arash:
In the evenings I often go to a park with one of my friends. We sit and chat - we, you know, are often after the girls
When school is over I go to the bus stop with my classmates. On the way we chat and laugh and flirt with the girls. You know in Iran boys' and girls' schools are separate but we still manage to do what we want.

On the bus we still laugh and chat all the way home. At home I play with computer games and on the Play station, playing multiplayer games with my brother. Sometimes I make music and I even have a 'daf' (small drum), but I don't play it often.

I'd like to take part in international competitions and see the Iranian flag above the others. I used to go to Kung Fu classes and even took part in some competitions but I let it go.

In the evenings I often go to a park with one of my friends. We sit in the local park and chat. We, you know, are often after the girls.

Parsha:
I always wanted to study medicine at UCLA. My dream was always to go to Iran and serve there, but if it's not possible I'll go to another country in the Middle East and through medical service fulfil the debt I have to that region
I always wanted to study medicine at UCLA (a good university in Los Angeles) and be an anaesthesiologist. I always thought that I'd spend a month every year going to another country to serve the deprived for free. My dream was always to go to Iran and serve there, but if it's not possible, I'll go to another country in the Middle East and through medical service fulfil the debt I have to that region.

I always wanted to get married and I wanted it to be with an Iranian girl, but if that's not possible then I'd like my children to be in touch with the rich Iranian heritage.

Arash:
I'd really like to grow up more quickly and finish my studies and get a job and get really rich. If I can get a job after my school diploma, then I don't mind not going to university. Otherwise I'd like to go to university to study computing because I like it a lot.

At first I'd like not to get married for the time being and then when the time comes I'd like it to be with an Iranian girl and I'd like the children to study in Iran and grow up here. Recently I've had the feeling that I love Iran a lot and I wouldn't like to go abroad. Of course travel is not bad for quick trips.

Parsha
I've heard so many different stories about Iran that I don't know what to expect about daily life there. I've heard is that Iran is a place like America. On the other hand, I've heard that the poverty and unrest there is intolerable. Actually, I can't get a real picture of Iran in my head.

My American friends have a clichéd view of Iran. When Iran is mentioned they immediately think of an Islamic country where everyone is an extremist and they all hate America
Still, when I hear the memories and homesickness of my father and mother for the time they grew up in Iran, I get a black and white image of Iran, like the pictures of America in the 70s, except everyone in them is Iranian.

My Iranian friends who have never been to Iran feel the same, but my American friends have a clichéd view of Iran. When Iran is mentioned they immediately think of an Islamic country where everyone is an extremist and they all hate America. No matter how much I try to make their image of Iran positive, it's no use.

I'm afraid that if I went to Iran I wouldn't want to leave there. When I speak Farsi I feel I'm among the lucky ones who can do so, and the more I feel that, the more it gives me a patriotic feeling. One of the things I like is being with people who I feel I can relate to easily. However with all that I still feel Iran is a very nice place which is only good for visiting.

I like everything to do with Iran, the food, Iranian love songs, the rich Iranian heritage and the football team which makes all the fans very patriotic.

My mother would like to go to Iran to see her relatives at any time but it's not possible now. I think my father has a secret desire to go to Iran when he retires.

Arash
I don't have a clear idea of what living outside Iran would be like, I mean I think I can do anything I want here. It's true that it's more limited here than abroad but at least I'm in my own country. I have a sense of ownership and I feel that there are many great people behind me in history who I could be like.

You know Arash, don't you? I mean Arash the archer (Heroic mythical figure). If you want I'll tell you his story later. You know, I've never been and am not ashamed of being Iranian. No matter how badly they might talk of Iranians, they have a special joy others don't.





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