By Mahtab Farid
When I arrived to Denver to attend the 2008
Democratic Convention, I realized I am fortunate to have a front seat to watch
history happen. I was 15 years old when I moved from my motherland Iran to the
United States. On July 6, 2001 on President Bush's birthday, I became a United
I am considered a double minority, a brunette woman from Iran who is now a US citizen. When I fill out forms, I am often confronted with this question, "are you a Caucasian, Hispanic, African American or other?" I always mark "other,"because I don't fit in any of those categories.
I am grateful to the United States to open her arms to me and my family as we moved to this country. My family and I have always felt welcome. My father Ali, my two brothers, Mehdi and Hadi run a successful textile business in Southern California. My mother, Maryam is the backbone of our family whose compassion and patience gets us through the tough times.
I guess you could say, my family is a great American immigrant success story. When my father started his business in 1988, we didn't even have computers and everything was done manually. I was part of his office staff and if I remember correctly there were only 15 of us. Now my father employs more than 100 people in his company.
My favorite American hero is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the prominent civil rights leader who believed in equality for all walks of life. I have had his poster with the famous, "I have a dream" speech on my wall for many years. Every morning I wake up, I see the big bold letter that says, "I have a Dream." I also had a dream of becoming a Washington, DC reporter to reflect on what is happening in Iran and the Iranians.
I was a young child when a group of fundamentalist students took over the American embassy and held Americans hostage for 444 days. I remember watching the news as a young girl and feeling sad about how Iranians were portrayed. I would say, "Iranians are not bad, we are not terrorists, we love people." The fundamentalist who took Americans hostage didn't reflect the wonderful nation of Iran and the Iranians with the rich history. So it was my dream to become a Washington reporter to be able to clear this mentality and be a good community reporter to the Iranian Americans who live in the US.
I became a congressional reporter for Voice of America and Radio Farda covering Washington politics to Tehran. I have also been writing, reporting, and contributing to a number of Farsi speaking media outlet. In year 2006, I made a documentary about young people of Iran that was featured in a congressional briefing of the House of Representatives.
Now, I started my own project that distributes news about US Iran related issues. Attending the Democratic and the Republican convention had a whole new meaning for me. Senator Barack Obama is making history as the first African American to be a nominee for the Democratic Party and Governor Sarah Palin is making history to be the first female vice presidential nominee for the Republican Party. I was fortunate to be able to cover both conventions and make history as the first Iranian American woman to be credentialed with my small news business for these historic events. Just like any other journalist who came to town to cover these historic events, I kept looking for that big story to break or find the exclusive interviews until I met a delegate from California that changed my perspective about exclusive interviews and glamorous stories.
Sandy Emberland, a delegate from 24th district of California was representing the Democratic Party. I noticed Sandy's pink Obama 2008 T-Shirt as I was getting my luggage at the airport. I asked her a few questions about the convention and asked her about her role in the convention. Sandy was staying at Sheraton hotel with the entire California delegation. I decided to follow her without really telling her that I was going to write about her so she wouldn't script her answers or give me some sound bites. I have followed Sandy for the entire time during the convention from the check in until the last night when Senator Barak Obama accepted his nomination as the first African American before 80,000 people at Invesco Field for the Democratic Party.
Although in Denver we spotted so many prominent
members of congress, Hollywood stars and so to speak "shakers and movers," but I
was so impressed with Sandy Emberland. (Please understand that I am not trying
to advocate her party. It was her true sense of patriotism that really touched
me.) Here is the woman who has volunteered a year and half of her life to the
campaign from making flyers, sending emails, registering voters, connecting to
the local government to reaching out to prominent law makers. Here is the woman
who really believes in the American values and believes in community service.
As everyone was planning to attend big events featured with famous speakers, Sandy took a day to go to the local lake to do community service at the park with the kids. She would wake up every morning attending the delegate breakfast that featured keys members of the California Delegations. Some of the speakers included, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senator Barbara Boxer. She would then look for the people in her group and would fight to get tickets for other members who were not delegate so they can be part of the experience. She would then go to the Pepsi Center to take a nice seat and listen to all the speeches.
After the long hours at the Pepsi Center, Sandy
would attend the evening meetings with big and small timers and really would
push for community service and doing well for the country. Sandy's job was not
done, she would then write a blog every day after her long day for a local paper
in California so rest of her friends and her party can know what is really
happening in Denver. Sandy was one of the many that I met at both conventions
that make this country. The real story is about the volunteers and Americans who
work so hard for their party; because they believe the party will bring the
change for a better future. I learned so much from Sandy about patriotism and
about community service work.
At the end of the Democratic convention and Senator Obama's speech, we had to walk for miles to get back to the hotel because it was so crowded. The entire convention was being played in my head as I was walking back. Major news networks only focused on what was happening on the stage at the convention not what happened off the stage. Frankly without people like Sandy and thousands of volunteers nothing will happen in these campaigns.
As I was delving into my thoughts, I saw large group of American troops in the uniform that came to Invesco Field to help with the security. These selfless men and women fight thousands of miles away from their country and their families deserve our utmost appreciation. These troops defend our country whether we are Democrats or Republicans. That is when you really learn it is not about the blue states or the red states; it is about the United States.
... Payvand News - 9/24/08 ... --