By J. Javid
A telephone chat with 14-year-old Ali Ahmadi Motlagh. He lives with his parents and younger sister in Paramus, New Jersey.
Q: How long have you been in the States?
A: We've been here five years.
Q: What struck you when you first arrived from Iran?
A: The atmosphere was very different. Our neighborhood was very different. Our new home had a backyard with grass. The school was very different.
Q: Were you happy that you came?
A: I was happy and sad. I missed my relatives in Iran but I was also having a good time here. School was difficult because I didn't know English. After three or four months I could speak a little bit of English and then after a year I got good at it.
Q: Do you now feel you are an Iranian or an American?
A: I'm in-between. Technology and school and the general atmosphere make me feel more American. At home, we are very Iranian and we speak Persian with our parents. Outside, I'm an American; inside, I'm an Iranian. I don't think about it a lot. I go with the flow.
Q: How do kids at school react when you say you're from Iran?
A: They don't care very much. They've never bothered me when I've said I'm Iranian.
Q: Some Iranians here feel that Americans don't like them.
A: It's a problem for adults. They are more Iranian. Kids don't care where you're from. But adults do; they care where you're from.
Q: What do you like and dislike about America?
A: I like the school. Our community is very nice. Things are organized. Families are not too strong and kids are out until very late at night. Family members only see each other in the morning or late at night and they don't talk to each other very much.
Q: Do you think you will stay or go back to Iran?
A: When I think about education, I think it is better to stay. But when I think about my relatives, I think I should go back because I was very close to them. But when I think about my future, I think it is better here.
Q: What do you want to be when you grow up?
A: I want to be a surgeon. A brain surgeon. I like the kind of work doctors do. I like the way the heart and the brain work.
Q: What's your all time favorite book?
A: "The Little Prince." I've read it in Persian and English.
Q: What's your favorite film?
A: "New Jersey Drive." It was very realistic.
Q: Favorite sports team?
A: Got to be the Houston Rockets.
Q: What's your favorite food?
A: Loobiapolo (rice mixed with diced string beans, tomato sauce...).