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Feature: Afghan youth in Iran aim to serve their country, people

When the Iranian blogger Arezou Shah Mohammadi decided to invite three young Afghan immigrants to join her social media program themed “New Youth in Iran,” a question that came to her mind was “where would they posit Afghanistan in their future plans?”

Shah Mohammadi’ three guests were two ladies, namely Sahar and Narges, and a young man Ramesh.

Sahar, 21, is currently studying business management in Tehran Alzahra University, and Narges, 22, has just graduated from the accounting major in Kharazmi University. 24-year-old Ramesh has also his higher education in computer engineering from an Iranian university.

The tale of young Afghanis, by Shah Mohammadi, spins round the experiences of immigration and tie-up to motherland.

“Immigration was not my choice and it is a compulsory subject for me,” said Narges, adding that “I was born and bred here (in Iran).”

Almost half a decade ago, grandparents of Narges made the decision to immigrate to Iran, when her father was only a teenager. The Afghan family has since lived in Tehran building new life for three generations.

To seek security is the major motivation why many fled Afghanistan in the past decades, she said, adding the fact that Iran and Afghanistan have a lot in common explains why many came to Iran.

Similarly, Sahar was born in Iran after her parents moved from Afghanistan about 23 years ago and later had three children in the new country.

Apart from the cultural bonds, Sahar said, there is another factor influencing her parents’ decision. “One of the most important reasons that my parents decided to come to Iran is my aunt and some of our relatives who were living in Iran and (were thought) could help us,” she said.

Ramesh, however, said he was not born in Iran. He left Afghanistan with his mother when he was only four. But the reason why they chose Iran is similar, he emphasized.

Iran and Afghanistan are neighbors, and they share similar culture and language, which “make life easier for people to live here than other countries,” he explained.

Due to shared borders, cultural heritage and mature social network among other factors, observers believe that Iran has been one of the favorite destinations of Afghan refugees over the past decades.

According to estimates released by the Iranian media, more than 3 million Afghans are living in Iran, 780,000 of whom are refugees. Of the total, over 2 million are undocumented and 600,000 are Afghan passport holders with Iranian visas.

Despite all the commonalities, the growth of Afghan youth in Iran is not always a rosy picture because of being aliens.

“I was once ashamed of my nationality” due to some childhood memories, Sahar said.

At the age of 19 when Sahar joined a compact school for Afghan children, Farhang, in Tehran for teaching, she met two Afghan girls and found how conformably they spoke about their nationality. After being friends with them, she was relaxed.

“Now I don’t feel ashamed about it and I always tell everyone my nationality easily,” she said.

Narges’s story is similar but more realistic as she said. “I had some hard days and a lot of struggles,” but the situation has changed and improved, she noted.

Since her education in Iranian public schools, she has tried her best to change people’s opinion about the Afghans by being a top student at school and being nice to others.

Narges said she has abandoned defensive shield and started making friends. Now, four out of five of her friends are Iranians, especially those in university, she announced.

“If we do our best, people will understand that and … wrong thoughts will fade away,” she added.

Ramesh, the young Afghan engineer, talked with high spirit when he looked forward to the future of his family. “My goal is to serve my family and my country because I love them.”

“I don’t want to go to Europe or any other countries. I want to go back to Afghanistan, and that’s why I studied computer engineering,” the young man said, with a determined look on his face.

Likewise, Narges called herself “a girl with tons of dreams” about her people.

“Limitations make people more ambitious and more hard working, and that worked on me … I think there are lots of people in my country, in Afghanistan, who need me, and I’m that kind of girl who wants to make a change and be positive, impressive and inspiring,” she indicated.

Narges is resolute about promoting her status and qualifications which, according to her, would serve as a means to assist the children and, particularly, women of Afghanistan and inspire them with better life.

Sahar also had her own dream of helping young Afghans. She aimed to continue her studies in the United States and to have her own business one day.

She argued that by making money she would be able to provide younger Afghans with educational opportunities.

In an open support to Sahar’s plan, Narges stated that “you don’t (necessarily) have to be there (in Afghanistan) to help them. There are lots of people who can impact and help others through social media or with money and books.”

“No matter where you are, you can always serve your country and your people,” she emphasized. Enditem

Editor: huaxia (xinhua)

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