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S: The Journey Has Just Begun

BC: Thank You For Reading My Autobiography, hopefully you enjoyed it!

FC: The Journey Has Just Begun... By: Ali Zamani

1: Ali Zamani | THE JOURNEY HAS JUST BEGUN... | Zamani & CO

2: ©2011 By: Ali Zamani All rights reserved. No part of this book may be copied or reproduced, except for in reviews, without the written consent of the author. Reviewers and other interested readers should contact the author at | Stone Ridge Publications

3: Foreword | Ali Zamani is not your stereotypical teenager. He thinks rationally and uses logic instead of acting on emotion and making decisions he would regret. I have never met anyone as straight forward as him. If he has something on his mind he will say it regardless of the reaction he knows he will receive. There are not many people like Ali in our society nowadays. People are too ashamed of being themselves in front of people. Being trustworthy and sensible are the reasons we are such good friends. Any time I am in need of assistance I can always rely on Ali for help. Even though I am in a higher grade level than he is I can always use his insights on things. We go into deep conversation and talk about things kids wouldn't normally talk about like philosophy and politics. Aside from being a really clever and cool guy he is a reputable athlete. Once he sets his mind on a goal he will never give it up. Despite having no experience with wrestling he was able to compete with his fellow auditionees and make it into the JV team. This shows how determined Ali is to become successful. With Ali's intellectuality and commitment I'm sure his autobiography will be exceptional! - Hamid Sattar

4: Preface | When I first received the rubric for this Autobiography it felt like every other English assignment that was given to me this year, but after talking to my parents and getting to hear some stories about how difficult our life was in Iran I started to think harder about my life and the people that are in it. When I was writing about coming to America for the first time I could feel excitement as I wrote every sentence. On the opposite side of that when I was writing about all of my cousins in Iran and having to I had tears coming out of my eyes remembering all of the fun memories that I had with them, and these are memories that I will never forget. i would like to thank my father and mother for helping me remember all of these special memories that will always stay in my heart. Ali Zamani

5: Table of Contents | Foreword written by: Hamid Sattar Preface by the author Chapter 1: The Roots of my Family Chapter 2: Coming to America Chapter 3: Lesson Learned Chapter 4: Stroll in the Park Chapter 5: Surviving in my Family Chapter 6: My "Cousin" Chapter 7: My grade school friend Chapter 8: A Real Friend Chapter 9: First Day of School Chapter 10: Procrastination Chapter 11: My Differences Chapter 12: Expectations Growing up Chapter 13: Religious Freedom Chapter 14: My Favorite Sport Chapter 15: WHere I am From Chapter 16: My Future

6: This book is dedicated to my mom and dad, because you have always been there when i have needed you. | "If you’re born poor, it’s not your mistake. But if you die poor, it’s your mistake" - Bill Gates

8: Zamani Family | Niazali Zamani X | Sekineh Eidi X | Rahimeh Zamani | Ibrahim Zamani | Zolfeghar Ghasemi | Fatemeh Khorassani-Zadeh | Babak Ghasemi | Ramak Ghasemi | Rashin Ghasemi | Faranak Zamani | Ali Zamani (Me)

10: Mohammad Khorassani-Zadeh X | Maryam | Mohammad Moradian | Malekeh | Mohammad Mohammadzadeh | Mehri | Ehsan Mohammadzadeh | Roshanak Moradian | Elham Mohammadzadeh | Omideh Mohammadzadeh | Bahman Mohammadzadeh | Sanaz Mohammadzadeh | Marriage Children Male Female | X = Deceased | Key

11: Omiyeh Mohammad-Zadeh X | Haydar Mohammadzadeh | Fatemeh | Ibrahim Zamani | Hussein | Pooran Hoveida | Behnaz Mohammadzadeh | Faranak Zamani | Ali Zamani (Me) | Mahtab Khorassanizadeh | Mahshad Khorassanizadeh | Khoarssanizadeh Family

12: Coming to America It was a fun Friday night, I remember going out to eat, and coming home and having a lot of fun with my friends and family. We were all playing games and I could hear the sound of Persian music being played. As a six year old I did not know exactly what was going on, but I thought to myself that maybe it was one of my cousin’s birthdays, or maybe a friend’s wedding. At that time I did what any six year old would have done, I decided to ask someone. I could see my mom and dad talking on the opposite side of the room and decide to walk up to them and ask. “Mom”, I said, she responded “what’s wrong Ali”; with a squeaky voice I asked “whose birthday is it tonight”? She just smiled and said “it’s not anyone’s birthday, this is a good by party”. Out of curiosity I quickly responded “for who?” my mother replied “Us”. The second those words came out of my mother’s mouth it felt like everything went silent, I could no longer hear the happy music and the sound of children playing. I quickly started thinking about my new home and what it would look like. I imagined a home that was big and made of all bricks; I had seen a picture of it in a magazine from America. At that point I was very excited, as any six year old would have been. I started to think about all of the adventures that I would soon be having with all of my friends, then all of a sudden my joy stopped, and I stopped daydreaming. I realized that my friends would not be coming with me to America and that I was all alone. It would only be my family and me. That night after all of my guests left my house, my family and I started to pack our bags. We did not have much to pack, because we had mostly left all of our stuff in Iran. We could only bring two suitcases each, so we tried to bring only the necessities. I would point to my toys and ask my mom if I could bring this along she replied “no” to all of my toys. I thought to myself how could I possibly have fun in America if I had no toys? It was as if my mom had read my mind, she replied “we will buy you new toys in America”. We finally finished packing and my mom quickly made us sandwiches for dinner, she told me to eat up and go to sleep because we have a long day in front of us. I barely got any sleep that night because I was thinking about all of the luxury that I would get in America. At around seven in the morning my mom woke me up and told me that we are going to the airport. Once at the airport my dad quickly went to check in all of the luggage and to get our airplane tickets, in the meantime I was saying my last goodbyes with my family and friends. I could not stop thinking about how lucky I was to be coming to America. After about three hours of waiting we finally entered gate seven and boarded our plane. My journey had just begun.

13: Lesson Learned It was around nine AM on a hot Friday morning, eleven years ago. This day will never be forgotten by me because I learned two things, to never run in the house, and to never underestimate the elements of fire and water. My mother had gone to work that morning, and I had just woken up from a good night’s sleep. This had become a routine schedule for me, eat, sleep, play, and go to bed. There was not much else to do as a five year old. My dad had come into my room and tried to wake me up. After minutes of trying to persuade me to get up he was unsuccessful. He finally told me that if I got up and ate my breakfast that he would take my sister and I to the park. As a five year old there were only two things that were important to me ice cream and the park. As tired as I was I got out of bed and went with my father to brush my teeth. My father would always pick me up so that I was tall enough to reach the sink. He told me to finish brushing my teeth so that he could go and get breakfast ready. My father quickly went to warm up some bread and some jam. Aside from all of the food he also made some tea. I always remember how my father would make tea, it was a daily task. My dad had all of the food set out in our living room on a sheet, ready to be devoured by my sister and me. The sheet was covered with jam, bread, rice pudding, and aside from all of this there was also tea and a kettle filled with boiling water. My parents had always warned me not to go around boiling water because it would burn me. As I started to eat I heard the ringing of our telephone, and my dad went to pick it up and see who it was. Turns out it was my aunt and we were supposed to go to her house that night for dinner. I was very eager to talk to my aunt because I wanted to show her my new stuffed animal. Because I was only five I did not know that she could not see what was on the opposite side of the telephone. I quickly ran to my room to try to find my stuffed animal. I quickly found my stuffed animal because I always set in the same place, next to my bed. I started running towards the phone and my sister told me to stop running, I took a quick glance at my sister sitting on the ground, when all of a sudden BOOM. I had tripped over the food and landed right on the boiling water. I felt a burning sensation on my left leg and could not stop crying. It felt like a million needles were being stabbed into me. My dad quickly hung up the phone and came running to me. He told my sister to go and call my mom, my dad went and got bandages and started to put it on my leg. As he spoke with my mother I could see him shaking his head either yes or no, to my mother’s questions, he told my mom that the burn was only the size of a bean, but it later turns out that he was wrong. All I could think about was the pain and whether or not I would still be going to the park. My mother soon got back from work and took a look at my leg. I could see the fear in my mom’s eyes because she had never seen me like this before. She started yelling at my dad because it turns out that the burn was actually the size of an apple. My dad had just said it was small so that my mother would not get worried. My mother immediately said that we have to go to the hospital and get treated for burns. Once at the hospital I could see a whole row of sick people, every age from infants to old people. All of these patients had one thing in common, the need for a doctor. Hopefully my mother was a surgical technician at that hospital so we did not have to wait long. I could hear the doctor talking to my mom and asking “what happened”. My father explained everything, and I was quickly taken to the surgery room. I was treated for burns and every day after that my mother changed my bandages and took me to regular checkups. It is so weird how a normal morning can lead to such a tragic yet exciting night. I went to my aunt’s house for dinner that night, and I could still see the fear in my parent’s eyes as they retold the story.

14: Entry from Ali Zamani’s Diary: May 12, 2000 I woke up at eight in the morning today. My dad woke me up and told me it was time for breakfast. I was hoping that he had my favorite breakfast made, a fig jam sandwich. I asked him and he replied “yes”. I quickly ran to the bathroom so that I could wash my face and brush my teeth. I was eating breakfast when all of a sudden I remembered yesterday and all of the fun I had at the park. I asked him if we could go to the park together, and eat ice cream. At first my dad hesitated because he was planning on getting some work done around the house, but after some persuasion he finally said yes. After my dad washed the dishes I put my favorite shoes on and got ready to take a long walk to the closest park. We headed out and started our journey. Together we walked by one of our neighbors who asked us how we were doing, my father being the nice guy that he was said he was doing fine and asked about his wife and two children. After ten minutes of walking we finally reached the park. My favorite part of the park is when I play on the playground. I played on the playground for about ten minutes until I felt a weird sensation in my mouth, it was dehydration. I quickly ran to my dad, who was sitting on a bench reading the newspaper. “I want juice” I told him, being the nice father that he was he never said no to me. My dad and I both walked down to the closest store and bought two juice boxes one for him and one for me. We both sat down on the warm wooden bench and started to drink our juice. After a good 2 hours of playing on the playground and walking with dad we decided it was time to come home, and take a nap. We walked all the way home, and even stopped by the store to pick up some groceries. It was around three in the afternoon; I woke up from my nap and went into the living room to see where my dad was. I walked in and saw that my dad was nowhere to be found, but I saw my mom. She asked me how I was doing and what I did today. I explained to her all of the fun that my father and I had at the park. My mom asked me if I wanted to go and visit my aunt’s house, which we usually do every other day. I was enthusiastic and said “yes” For the next couple of hours all I could think of was going to my aunt’s house and playing with my cousins. The second that mom said put your shoes on and get ready to go I was waiting for her by the door. After my sister got ready and my mom locked the doors we were on our way. We walked a few blocks until we got to the closest bus station, after about ten minutes on the bus we got off and started to walk the rest of the way there. It felt like forever before we got to the yellow bricked house on the end of their street. Even though all of my cousins are older than me they were still fun. Today I played hide and go seek, and hid behind my aunt’s furniture. Finally my mom told me to settle down and come eat dinner at the table. After dinner we said our goodbyes and returned home. My mother helped me into my pajamas and I started to write in my diary. This is all I did today diary, I will go to sleep for tonight but there is a full day waiting for us tomorrow. – Love, Ali

15: Surviving in my Family This is a list of things that you must follow in order to survive in my family. If you follow all of these set rules you will have a peaceful and successful life. Get good grades. In my family education is very important, in order to have respect from my parents you must have good grades in your report card. Respect your elders. My family believes that respect is very important, especially showing respect to elders. So always say please and thank you. Know how to speak Farsi. Farsi is the main language spoken in my house. My parents believe that using our first language is very important. Make good friends. Since I do not have any close family, friends are very important, and my parents have to decide whether they like my friends or not. Be home before ten o’clock every single day of the week. It does not matter whether it is Monday or Saturday my parents always want me to be safe at the house before ten o’clock. Be proud of where you are from. In my house everyone is proud of where they are from. Everyone in my house is a Persian, and ever since I have been a young child I have been thought about the great history of my people, and have learned to show a great deal of respect to it. Do not talk back to my parents. In my family my parents always have the last word. Whatever they say goes, never try to go against them. Do not be lazy. In my house if you are lazy you will get kicked out. You must always be doing a chore or doing homework, never stand around doing nothing. Do not wear shoes inside of the house. In Persian culture shoes are always taken off before entering the house. This shows a sign of respect, and helps keep the house and carpet clean. Always go to family gatherings. Since I do not have much close family living with me, whenever there is a family gathering in Richmond (where all of our closest family live) I must attend.

17: A Trip with my Cousin One of my most favorite memories as a child was going to Virginia Beach. I remember packing all of our stuff, going to Richmond and then going straight to the beach. Since I do not have first cousins in America I would have to go with other relatives. My favorite relative would have to be my mom’s second cousins son. His name is Mehdi. Since I can remember we have been together. It’s as if we were brothers, I would be so close to him that if someone would ask me who he was I would proudly say “he is my cousin”. I remember it being a hot day in July when my parents decided that we were going to Virginia Beach. They told me to pack my bathing suit and lots of sunscreen; we were going to leave my house the next morning. That morning my dad woke us up at around eight in the morning and got us all in the car, we were hoping to not get stuck in rush hour. We all traveled in the car for about two hours until we reached Richmond, Virginia. That is where my fun began. After I saw the sign that said we were in Richmond I got excited, I thought about all of the fun that me and my cousin would have at the beach. I got to my cousins house and saw that they were ready to leave as well. I asked him what kind of swimming trunks he brought with him and he showed me shorts with a cool dragon design on it, I heard my dad tell me to get in the car so we could go. I decided to ride in my “cousins” car because they had bought a DVD player and we decided that we would watch movies the whole way there, and that’s exactly what we did. I could not wait to get to the beach, I kept asking my uncle if we were there yet, and he kept replying “not yet”. I finally saw a sign that said “welcome to Virginia Beach”, and that’s how I knew that we were there. It took us about a half an hour to find parking, because it was already about three in the afternoon, but we finally found a place next to Dairy Queen. The first we decided to do was rent a hotel, this was one of the boring parts of the trip because finding a hotel in Virginia Beach is like finding a needle in a haystack. After hours of looking around we finally found a hotel room and all crowded in. we all changed our clothes and headed for the waves. My cousin and I quickly started playing in the water and kept going farther and farther away from shore. I could hear my dad telling us to be careful, and to not go too far. After a long day of swimming in the beach we finally called it a day and decided to go somewhere and eat dinner, we walked around the city until we found a “Subway” restaurant and decided to eat there. After dinner we walked around the city and visited the cool spy museums. I could hear the sound of the music coming from the clubs around me. By every club there was a big security usher waiting there, I always thought to myself how they got that big. We slowly walked back to our hotel rooms and got a good night’s sleep, the next morning we packed all of our stuff and went back to my cousins house in Richmond. The trip to Virginia Beach was a memory that will always be in my memories because it was a trip that I had gone to with the family that I never had.

19: Wyatt A. Simmons | i am funny, and i love to hunt for deer with my dad. | Single | December 12, 1994 Aldie, Va | Ali Zamani | Cody Ramsey | T.j Williams | Jason Cardozo | Jeff Cofey | Eli Crush | Going Hunting | Going hunting was fun | Is good friends with Ali Zamani Going Hunting this weekend with my dad,, sooo excited Wyatt added Hunting to his Activities Add Wyatt A. Simmons as a friend Wyatt A. Simmons is Single Wyatt A. SImmons is Unemployed | Ali Zamani | Dude can you hang out today. I was thinking we would go lasertagging, maybe cody and jeff can come too. | Cody Ramsey | Dude do you think i can come hunting with you this weekend? Wyatt is now friends with Cody Ramsey Wyatt added John Deere to his pages Wyatt is at Ali's house. text me Wyatt is brothers with Ben Simmons | Ben Simmons | Yo Wyatt, do you know if we are going to dads house this weekend to go hunting? | I am a funny guy if you get to know me. i like to go hunting and hang out with my friends

20: A Real Friend A real friend is there for the rest of your life, A real friend will not stab you with a knife, A real friend is there when you cry, A real friend is there until you die. Your friend is there for better or for worse. They will not leave you, and take another course. You can count on a friend for a big hug, Or even give them a cute red ladybug. A good friend tells me jokes. My best friend knows all of my closest folks. A real friend will always talk to me. regardless of what i wear or my ethnicity. You can always count on a real friend, Because they keep their promises. Real friends don’t go and leave you with, All of your hopes and wishes. the next time you are with someone, ask yourself if that person would do the things on this list,

21: First Day of School It was seven thirty in the morning and I could feel the butterflies in my stomach, I had been nervous all last night and barely got any sleep. I was thinking about what I would wear and if I had any classes with my friends. I went to the bathroom and brushed my teeth, I went down stairs slowly counting each step as I went down. My mom had made my favorite breakfast for me pancakes and bacon, me and my sister enjoyed them quietly. We were both excited and nervous; I had started getting bored of summer because everything I did was getting boring, I started to miss going to school and learning new things. I could see that it was close to eight o’clock so I went upstairs to get ready for school. As I went up the steps of my house I was thinking about what I would wear and what I should take to school with me. I finally decided to take some pencils and paper, and I was going to wear my khaki shorts with a button up blue shirt. This was one of my favorite outfits because it brought back memories of the summertime. I put on my shoes and started walking to the bus stop; I waited there for five minutes talking to my friend Kevin about what classes we took and who our teachers were. Upon entering the school I saw my friend Wyatt and we started walking to homeroom so that we could get our schedules, he was also excited to be in school. The second that my official schedule was put in my hand I knew the ninth grade had officially begun. For first block I had science with Mr. Packert, I was excited because he looked like a nice teacher and also because it is one of my favorite subjects. I started to scan the room to see if I knew any of the students but it turns out I did not know any of the students. I noticed a student that was sitting on the side that had a beard, that student turns out to be one of the best friends I had that year. After first block we all went to second block where I had Social Studies, turns out that same student sat next to me in that class, when the teacher was taking attendance, she called “Mortaza Akbar” and the student replied “here”. At that point I quickly knew that Mortaza was from Afghanistan, the neighboring country of Iran, my home land. As I started to know Mortaza and ask him questions we found out that we had many things in common. He also spoke Farsi, and it turns out that he also had many of the same cultures as I did. This made us even closer friends. Mortaza and I were both interested in soccer, science, and both had moved here at a young age. One of my most favorite memories I had with Mortaza was when we would go together to buy Gatorade at the end of first block. After first block every day I remember going with Mortaza to buy our favorite sports drink Gatorade. After the bell we would quickly run through the people because neither one of us wanted to be late to our second block class, we would go to the vending machine in the athletic hallway and put in our spare change. We would buy so much Gatorade that Mr. Miller our P.E teacher called us the Gatorade brothers, which is exactly what I thought we were. Ninth grade went by very fast because of all the fun that Mortaza and I had that year, from buying Gatorade to talking about all of the weird things our parents did.

22: For as long as I can remember I have been the type of person that procrastinates, it is not a lazy kind of procrastination but more of an idea starter. I feel that if I wait longer to do something like homework or a project I will have more ideas and will eventually get a better piece of work. One of the pieces of work that I thought I would procrastinate on was this autobiography, but with spring approaching, and the Persian New Year getting close I thought that for my New Year’s resolution I would stop procrastinating and begin to get my work done the day I get it. I remember one day I received a POR for AP History and I told myself that I would get it done that weekend, but I kept pushing it back, I thought to myself “I will do in tomorrow”, but the day that it was due was tomorrow. I finally sat down with my book and started writing. I was very stresses out that night but this was a good lesson for me because it taught me not to procrastinate. | Procrastination

23: My Differences For as long as I can remember I have been somewhat different from the other kids throughout my life. Many of my friends and other random teenagers talk about Call of Duty, girls, and all of the “extracurricular” activities they do on the weekends. On the other hand, my friends and I do many other things in our personal lives and while we are together, for instance, we talk about politics, religion and many other interesting events taking place in our society today. These are activities that will actually enrich my life, and ensure my future generation to be more successful. Even as a kid I have always wanted to be a doctor, this is mainly because I love to help people and I am very caring. All though I am only a sophomore in high school I am very political. I am very interested in the politics of foreign countries, especially in Iranian Politics. I believe that it is my duty to be considerate of things that go on outside of the country. As for my political views, I am a supporter of Democracy. I am against the dictatorship and theocratic government of the Islamic Republic of Iran. I am a supporter of the shah of Iran, who left during the Iranian revolution in 1979. Sometimes when I ask my friends what they think about the foreign affairs that America is in they just reply with “I don’t care”. I think to myself, how can these teens not care about such important matters but then go worry about stupid unimportant things. To me, this society has definitely become careless over the years. Now, in this day in age, teenagers don’t know how to do the most important yet simplest tasks. Let’s say that Jimmy, who is 18 years old, is driving down the road, suddenly hears a noise, and it is his popped tire. If he were to get out of the car and attempt to change the tire, he would most definitely fail. I feel like now, teens are dependent on tow truck service and AAA, when I would probably have already learned how to change a tire. I believe that I’m different because I like to take the time out of my day to do productive things and learn about adult matters. I don’t think this way to be better than anyone, but it’s just who I am. Something that is also very interesting to me is videogames. How can kids sit in front of a TV for five hours without going outside or moving around? That is why America’s obesity rate is going up. I am different from other kids because I try my hardest to make the most out of my time, and in my free time I try to help others. I love to help other people because of the feeling I get afterwards, a feeling of achievement. Whenever you help someone do something or achieve something they can always look up to you and you get respect. This is mainly why I want to become a doctor, because doctors are very helpful and therefore they get a lot of respect. Since I was a kid I have always daydreamed about being a very good doctor. My parents always tell me about how doctors get respect and how doctors are very rich. I know this is true firsthand, because when I go to the doctor’s office I always show respect to the doctor. It is as if he has a god complex over others but is not showing it. He knows that he has the ability to help my health, or he could even make me sicker. These are the main reasons that I am different from other teenagers I am around and these small differences can change the way that my future is.

24: Expectations and Me For as long as I can remember I have always been trying my hardest. I try my hardest so I can succeed and reach my goals, but another reason I try so hard to succeed is so I can live up to expectations. In my opinion expectations are goals that people set for you. These people can be parents, teacher, siblings, or maybe even coaches. They set theses expectations based on how hard you work and how hard you should work. I believe that expectations might be a good or a bad thing. If you set high expectations for yourself you will try hard, but if you set low expectations that you know you will easily reach, and then you might not try as hard. I believe that setting expectations is a good and bad thing for many reasons. Lets say you are a straight “A” student and you have a new coach for a certain sport and the coaches expectations are to get all B’s on your report card then you might not try as hard as you usually do because you know you will easily get all B’s without even trying. On the other hand if you are a student that usually gets C’s in their report cards then you will try much harder to bring those C’s to B’s. Expectations can be set by many people for many different reasons. Usually parents set expectations for grades first then in athletics. They might want you to be an honor roll student, or maybe they just want you to try your best. I believe expectations make someone work harder. For example in a sport if you keep raising the expectations in how many push ups you will have to do every day, after a while you will become stronger and be able to do much more than the amount you could have done on the first day. So in my opinion if expectations are set high enough they will either make you smarter or stronger in some way either physically or mentally. Expectations do not always have to be goals that you have to reach. An expectation can also be a responsibility that you must do in order to be responsible. For example at your house your parents might have set expectations on how they want your room cleaned every week, or how they want you to do the laundry every week. Expectations are also things that your parents or teachers expect from you. For example if you are a good student, your teacher always expects you to have it on time. Expectations can also be set by you for yourself. For example you tell yourself that if you don’t have all your homework done by six o’clock then you will not go to the movies. In my opinion expectations are a way of either improving your body either physically or mentally based on how hard the goals we have to reach are, and they are usually set by a parent, a teacher, a coach or maybe even yourself. Expectations help make you work harder so you reach your goal faster with better progress. An expectation does not always have to be a goal. In my opinion anything that needs to be done I an expectation, so doing laundry or homework is also an expectation. This is how expectations affect my lifestyle.

25: Religious Freedom I do not remember much before I came to America, but all I know is that I will never leave. My parents decided to leave Iran because we had no freedom. The government in Iran is very corrupt. The women in Iran barely have any rights or freedoms, and always have to be covered up with a chador, a religious veil. The people there do not even have the basic rights that people in America take for granted everyday like democracy and religious freedom. They do not have free speech and the right to protest. Citizens in Iran do not have the right protest of go against any of the actions of the government in any way. If the decide to do so and get caught, they will most likely be jailed and eventually be given their death penalty. Iran has the most hangings in the world, and that is only the classified ones, the government kills so many people without even keeping their files. In Iran there is only one main religion that is respected, and that is Islam. If you are a Christian or Jewish you will not have as much freedom. This is another reason that my family decided to move to America. In America you can be whatever religion you want to without being segregated. These are just some of the reasons why my parents decided to leave the country. My parents are always telling me about how my cousins and relatives do not have jobs in Iran due to their religion. They tell me to be thankful to be living in America. Two summers ago I went to Iran with my sister and mom. Before leaving to go on the airplane my dad warned me about the harsh laws of the government and told me how to deal with the differences in culture. For example in Iran men cannot wear shorts in public, and women cannot show their hair in any way. If the police see it you will be punished. I remember finally getting off of the plane and seeing the large sign that said “welcome to Mashhad International Airport”, was both excited and nervous. It was the first time I had gone to Iran and did not know what to expect. My parents told me all kinds of stories about all of the fun they had and all of the fun that I would have with my cousins. When I left the terminal I could see about thirty people waiting for me, I did not know an of them. I later found out they were my cousins and over time I learned their names and what they were interested n. I had a very good trip that year, and I learned to love my cousins. It had turned out that the government was not as harsh as it was but it was still very corrupt. If I could visit again I would love to.

26: Wrestling The first thing that comes to mind when I think of practice is wrestling. Wrestling is both hard and tiring but at the end of the day when I went home I know that I had achieved something productive, wither I did better on my high crotch takedown, or perfected my double leg takedown. I decided to wrestle because all of my friends do it, and I thought that it would be a good way to spend time with them outside of school, but after I started to wrestle I noticed that it was very hard and time consuming, but totally worth it. It was fifth block on a cold B-day, this is a gym class that I will never forget, we were having an assembly so we did not dress out, which gave the students time to socialize and catch up on all of our work. I started to talk to my friend Jason Cardozo who was on the varsity wrestling team. I asked him about wrestling and what the rules were, and I started to get interested in the sport, and the coach. That day I decided that I would go to the meeting and off season conditioning to see I f I would do good or not. That day I could not think of anything except for wrestling. I wondered if I would be good or just look like some scrub that had never gotten off their lazy butt. The day finally went by and I started walking to the changing room. I began changing into my workout clothes and approached the wrestling room. Coach Nagy told us that we would be weight lifting for the first hour of conditioning so I did as he told us. I started benching and curling, small weights and big weights until I could bench or curl no more. We all started heading to the wrestling room and started stretching out. There were two groups one was the experienced w34estles and one group was the beginners I joined the beginners and started to do what they did. That day I learned how to shoot for a takedown, sprawl, and the up and down positions of wrestling. After that day I knew that wrestling was just natural to me. My quick speed and fast hands made it easy for me to take down my partner in practice, and I knew this was something that I would continue. I even encouraged my friends to do wrestling so they tried it and also enjoyed it. I conditioned for two months and when it was try out weeks I tried out and made the team. I was officially a wrestler for Freedom High School. My first practice was the next day on a Saturday, my mother had been out of town and my dad had gone to work so I did not have a ride. I decided to walk all the way from Stone Ridge to Freedom at seven in the morning. When I got there I practiced and kept practicing until my first scrimmage one week later at Potomac falls High School. I was both excited and nervous but I got on the bus to go to Potomac Falls High school. This was my first scrimmage so it would decide whether I was good or bad. After all of the wrestlers got checked in and skin checked we got lined up and started choosing partners. I was given a partner and won my match. I was excited so quickly went to find a new partner. My record for that day was 7-1; I won seven matches and only lost one. I felt good and knew that all of that practice finally paid off. Wrestling is a sport that will always be both in my mind and my heart because it is a good sport and is very challenging both physically and mentally. I will definitely keep wrestling until I am physically not able to.

28: Where I am From If you were to line me up with all of the students in the classroom, you would notice one difference in me. The difference is not my size, my interests, or my beliefs. This difference is something very important to me and is something that will always be in my heart no matter where in the world I am. This difference is my race; I am Persian, straight from Iran. I am a full blood Iranian, both my mother and father are Iranian, and I am also a proud Iranian. I am one of the few Iranian teenagers that are proud enough to tell someone that I am Iranian. I know firsthand that Iran is not what you see on TV, and is actually a fun and interesting nation full of history and many famous poets and philosophers. Iran is a country full of history and natural resources. Iran dates back many thousands of years, and was also been a powerful country before the Iranian Revolution in 1979. The people of Iran are very nice people who have a very nice culture that is not based around Islam, which is seen on TV. Thirty years ago Iran was one of the world’s strongest nations and was one of America’s best allies. Iranians were westernized and were rich due to the high amount of oil that was being exported out of the country daily. After the revolution in 1979 everything changed. A new leader named Ayatollah Khomeini came in and started a theocracy, this theocracy was based on Muslim beliefs and restricted people in almost every level. People no longer had religious freedom and women had to wear a veil over their faces. I believe that knowing about my culture and participating in as many Persian Festivals as possible will help me learn even more about my nationality. The calendar in Iran is based on the Muslim calendar, so it is 1390 in Iran right now. My new years was on march 26th, and we celebrate by getting together as a family and doing many of the things Americans do on their new years. We count down until the New Year and then kiss everyone on the cheek. It has become almost a tradition to invite all of my family from Richmond to our house. On Ney Years day we get all kinds of gifts such as clothes and money. I love the Persian New Years because I get to be around my family. Iran is full of history especially when it comes to poets. The greatest poets, mathematicians, and philosophers known to the Middle East are Omar Khayyam, and Hakim Ferdowsi. Their poems have been read and turned into songs for thousands of years. When I visited Iran this summer I was able to go the grave of Hakim Ferdowsi. His grave was beautiful with a large monument at the entrance; you could see a large tan building in the background full of his many poems. When you enter there are hundreds of poems on the wall, all waiting to be read by curious people. That day I left that monument feeling like I achieved something, I had gone to the grave of an amazing philosopher. Ever since my first trip to Iran in 2006 I have always wanted to go back. I was lucky enough to go back in 2008, but never after that. Since I am not able to go to Iran I try to bring its amazing history and artifacts to my friends. I am always telling my friends about the cool things that I did in Iran, and that it is not just some desert, like you see on TV. I try to tell them the difference between Iran, Iraq, and Afghanistan. I do not like it when someone comes up to me and says that I am from Afghanistan or some other country because it shoes ignorance on their part. My love for Iran is very obvious, because it is where I was born; this is why I do not hesitate to tell people that I am Persian or Iranian.

29: My Future | When i grow up i would like to become a doctor and be able to own my very own yacht. | In sixty years i would like to have a good career that i like and be able to own many luxuries such as a nice car and be able to live in a nice house. i believe that this is possible if i do good in school and get a good education.

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  • By: Ali Z.
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  • Title: Classic Mixbook
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  • Started: about 7 years ago
  • Updated: about 7 years ago