by Saara Maknojia, January 11, 2022
To kick off the new semester, Heather Barodi, Jocelyn Vazquez, and I traveled to The Woodlands representing LEAP and Sam Houston State University for the first event of the year hosted by the World Affairs Council (WAC). This event showcased the journey of an immigrant into America featuring Roya Hakakian, an Iranian immigrant and her experience into the “land of the free!”
Upon our arrival to the venue, the LEAP students were greeted by the always-friendly, always-professional staff of the World Affairs Council! In fact, we were given a copy of Hakakian’s book, A Beginner’s Guide to America.
Considering that Ms. Hakakian a Guggenheim Fellow and Lesley Stahl referred to Hakakian as “the most eloquent interpreter of ‘the immigrant'” writing today, this was a real treat.
After introductions from the WAC staff…
…Ronan O’Malley moderated the event, asking questions about Hakakian’s experiences on her journey to–and in–the United States.
At the age of 19, Roya came into the U.S. with the hope of becoming successful in this large and unknown land. Ms. Hakakian explained her perceptions of the differences between the US and Iran and why it was such a cultural adjustments.
These observations spoke to us, particularly since of the three of us, one is a first-generation immigrant, and two are second-generation immigrants. We could all identify with at least some of what she had to say.
Toward the end of the session, the Mr. O’Malley took questions from the audience, and Ms. Hakakian responded to two LEAP questions! The insight into immigration and its challenges opened up many doors to knowledge and allowed us to see this process in a new light!
Roya Hakakian met with the LEAP students after the event and kindly signed our copies of her book A Beginner’s Guide to America. The LEAP students were thrilled to hear from her and learn from her experiences!