When my family came to Australia it was the biggest culture shock. I always laugh about this – back in Iran everyone has their heads covered, so at the airport I saw someone without a hijab, and I actually closed my eyes and looked away, I didn’t know what to do!
Leaving Iran was with mixed emotions. Leaving family; coming to a better place. We left my grandparents and relatives to start a better life. That was about eight years ago now.
When we arrived, an Iranian couple helped us get on our feet. They spoke the same language and helped us with shopping and enrolled me and my brothers in school. I used to say I was sick all the time just so I didn’t have to go. I didn’t know the language and that got on my nerves. I don’t think we would have settled as well as we did without them.
I live with my mum and dad, and have three older brothers and one older sister. I look up to all my siblings; they all have their own little spot in my heart.
I know school is good for you, but it has been hard. Where I go, there are many kids from wealthy backgrounds, which is the opposite of mine. At the start, I had trouble fitting in. It’s better now. I got a sports scholarship to go to high school. I see it as a chance to change my life. I do athletics and rugby. I started athletics four years ago when my teacher saw me run. After that, I got a coach and I trained hard for two months before going to the WA All-School competition. I won the long jump and 200 metre race, and came second in the 100 metres by a fraction of a second. I was so impressed with my progress after just two months of training!
The year after I became State champion and I got sponsored to compete in Brisbane at the Australian All-Schools comp. I got to the finals, and although I didn’t do that well, it was all about the experience, it opened my eyes.
Competing in the Olympics and Commonwealth Games is my ambition. I know I have to work hard to reach my goals.
I don’t think I would have gotten to where I am today without sport. I used to mix with the wrong crowd and got into a lot of trouble. Athletics keeps me busy and has changed my focus points. It’s my future.
I still have mates who do drugs and get into trouble and I still see them ‘cause they’re really nice people. When we hang out and if they do stuff I don’t want to do, I say so. I’ve learnt to choose the good.
In the end, all I really want to do is to make my mum proud. She went through hell and back for us kids and I want to pay her back somehow. I feel like I have a role in making her happy; I want to make her believe coming here was all worth it.
Download the full publication This is Me: Stories from culturally and linguistically diverse children and young people.