Me: What was the funniest situation that happened to you in Poland?
Mahsa: When I first went to the classroom I thought it looked more like a party, since the students were wearing short skirts and had so much make up on. It was kinda funny to me.
Me: Ach, I can see what you mean. What do you consider the greatest Iranian and Polish absurds?
Mahsa: There are so many of this absurd rules in Iran. For example, even if you aren't a muslim, you should wear hijab (headscarf) in Iran. Women cannot go to stadium to watch a volleyball match etc. There are so many of them that I cannot even count them, we don't know the reasons either, please don't ask me, ask the people in charge. In Poland, I didn't encounter that many unpleasant behaviors, just a few. For example, once I gave a kind of sweet to someone as a souvenir and said my goodbyes to go to the other city, but she called me an hour later (even if her English wasn't good and she couldn't talk to me, so I passed my phone to my Polish friend) and said there was something in it that she didn't like and was allergic to it. In my culture it isn't nice to do so and we never talk about it. Another thing that I found absurd was that due to the sanctions against Iran and as an Iranian, I couldn't open a bank account or use a credit card.
Me: I guess people in charge are hard to understand almost everywhere. Anyway, what would you like people to know about Iran?
Mahsa: So many things, I want to talk hours about the reality of Iran and how it differs from what you see in TV. I invite everyone to come to Iran one day, Iran is one of the most ancient countries in the world with a culture which is thousands of years old. Just like in the photo of the city Persepolis made by Darius the First.
Me: What three words would describe Iran, and Poland?
Mahsa: Iran - mysterious, kind/welcoming, Mine. Poland - relaxation, eastern and western ( I mean - the culture is something between East and West), pierogi!
Me: That's nice! How do you think travelling affected you?
Mahsa: Traveling had a great impact on me, I matured during my trips. I'm a stronger and braver person now. I also made lots of friends from different countries and that's the most precious outcome of my travelings.
Me: And how would you describe Iran society, especially women?
Mahsa: Iranian women are doing great these days, I think. Maryam Mirzakhani, for example, became both the first woman and the first Iranian honored with the Fields Medal, the most prestigious award in mathematics. They are educated, hard working and eager to improve but there are so many obstacles in front of them. However, I'm sure they will make it and will overcome all these obstacles and limitations.
|Maryam Mirzakhani // www.theguardian.com|
Me: The next one is hard, so feel free not to answer, if you don't wish to. If you were to be born in any country, would you choose your home country?
Mahsa: I love my country, but if I would born again I would prefer somewhere else, in a country where people have more freedom and it's easier to live there as a woman.
That was my interview with a very brave and kind woman, who is truly my role model. Mahsa, you're one of the most inspiring women I've ever met and I'm deeply thankful to have met you and interviewed you. The message for today is simple: let's not judge people by their culture, or birthplace, because caught inside the box we're missing out a lot.
What about you guys? Have you been to Iran? Have you encountered many cultural differences? Let me know in comments!
Have a lovely day,