My first reaction to Donald Trump’s throw away remarks about the media covering up an incident involving migrants in Sweden was shock. How did he know? Who had told him about those years in the 90s that I thought had all but left people’s memories?
My family moved to Sweden back in 1986, fleeing from Iran’s war with Iraq. Despite coming from a middle class family with highly educated parents, for years we struggled with the language and the bureaucracy involved in starting a new life. This all took a personal toll, my father found it difficult to settle into his new home, and moved back to Iran, causing my family to be torn into two. Life was hard, and despite the Swedish government taking the time and money to help us integrate, we struggled to get by.
Finally, after six years of living in low income housing projects on the outskirts of Stockholm, we moved to a bigger apartment, where I had my own room. Later on we bought our first house and car. That’s when it happened: the Swedish incident.
I had my first ever Christmas holiday in the country. My uncle and I went out into the woods and chopped down a tree to decorate our new house with over the festive season. After years of struggle, I felt a little bit Swedish. Yes, they can be a bit strange, (I’ve never seen grown adults drink so much milk), but they are good people, and I finally started to feel at home.
I’m proud of the life we have built here. Thirty years since we arrived my mother trained to become a hairstylist and opened her own salon age 50; my sister is accountant; and I work on Stockholm’s public transportation system. Like our fellow 90,000 Iranians we made Sweden our new home. Alongside the 1.5 million immigrants and refugees who live here we will always be a part of it.
The controversial orders Donald Trump has already issued
I feel so welcome here, that even after trying to move to America to study I came back. I moved to California as a student, paying for my studies with a loan and working on the side at a school cafeteria and as a driver. I befriended many Americans, but I always felt closer to my fellow immigrants and decided to move back after eight years.
I don’t feel like I have to explain myself and my sacrifices as an immigrant to someone like Trump, but he shouldn’t be able to say whatever he wants unchecked. I am a human, walking talking fact check and I’m here to tell him, that Sweden has the right attitude toward immigrants and refugees. He could learn about taking a few lessons from this country.