By Jeff Seldin, VOA
Iranians at home and those living abroad are closely watching international talks this week aimed at ending Iran's controversial nuclear program. Many are hopeful that the negotiations could end years of animosity between the West and Iran.
On a university campus in Virginia, in the Washington suburbs, this graduate student - we'll call him Ali to protect his identity - pursues his studies and is keeping close watch on nuclear talks half a world away.
Ali is Iranian and American.
"It is a burden. A lot of us do worry if the conflict might escalate to the point where there might be war," he said. "I do fear for the livelihood of some of my friends."
Like many Iranians, Ali fears repercussions for his family in Iran if he is identified talking to U.S. media. What he'd like most is for the anger and the animosity to finally go away.
“We want to see things normalized so we don’t feel a tension within ourselves, whether things are going to be safe," he said.
Born in the U.S., Ali grew up in Tehran, where his father still lives and where he says friends struggle to make a living as Western sanctions weigh heavily on the faltering economy... and on the minds of many Iranians.
"We hope that, God willing, they reach a deal and the sanctions are lifted," said Tehran resident Mohammadi.
Such sentiments of hope have been echoed repeatedly to Arash Sigarchi, host of VOA Persian's Straight Talkcall-in show which hears from people in Tehran.
“If Iran can solve the problem they can find better job, they can receive more money," he said. "Because right now they are frustrated because of the sanctions and they are looking for new window to find better life in Iran."
Still, there are many in Iran who are wary of a deal with the West. Iranian TV this week showed hundreds of students forming a human chain around Iran's Fordo enrichment facility in support of Iran's nuclear activities.
There's also Ali's father, in Tehran, from the generation that took part in the Iranian revolution.
“He’s hopeful that things will get better, but he is largely skeptical of American intentions - what will they demand in order to have some sort of settlement or peace," he said.
Knowing both American and Iranian cultures, Ali remains hopeful.
“It will cause more inner peace for myself in a way to know there is not going to be a conflict and that I could just easily move between here and home [Iran] and just feel comfortable," he said.
Waiting for the time when he is no longer caught between two worlds.
About Jeff Seldin: Jeff works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters covering a wide variety of subjects, from the nature of the growing terror threat in Northern Africa to China’s crackdown on Tibet and the struggle over immigration reform in the United States. You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @jseldin or on Google Plus.
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