I was born in Tehran, Iran, in the early 1980s into a world where equal rights and laughter had just been silenced. My mother named me Azadeh, which translates to “freeperson,” as a subtle way of ensuring equal rights for women not be forgotten in the new regime.
Once, my mother was nearly beaten to death for voicing an opinion about a portrait of Khomeini -- an Iranian religious leader -- to her colleague outside their office building. As a senator in Parliament, my grandfather was in hiding during the early years of the Islamic revolution. Many of his colleagues were either executed or tortured. In order to leave the country, my grandfather left Tehran in the trunk of a vehicle and rode a donkey across the border to Turkey.
Prior to going into hiding, my family's wealth was seized under the pretense of Islam. My mother and grandmother sold all their jewelry including their beloved wedding rings on the black market. The cash received was sent in different routes through messengers, which often did not meet their intended destination, to my relatives in America.
I am grateful for the opportunities of growing up in the United States, but at the same time am saddened to hear about the circumstances my generation faced in Iran. I look forward to seeing what my generation will bring to Iran's future.
Editor's Note: This blog is one of a series of individual stories by former refugees who are now working for the State Department. The series is part of the State Department's ongoing effort to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Refugee Convention and in honor of World Refugee Day on June 20. Each story reflects an individual's experience and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. government.Become a fan of the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration on Facebook.