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Crossing borders, overcoming obstacles, starting life over again in a new country. WYSO's radio series The Bind That Ties brings you the stories of immigrants from around the Miami Valley.

The Bind That Ties: Living, Working And Raising A Family As An Immigrant In The Miami Valley

Mojgan Samardar 2019.JPG
courtesy of Mojgan Samardar
Our new series the Bind That Ties came from an idea from Community Voices producer Mojgan Samardar.

A new series begins this week on WYSO called The Bind that Ties. In it, you will hear a dozen people in conversations, talking about living and working and raising a family as an immigrant in the Miami Valley.

The idea for this series came to us from Community Voices producer Mojgan Samardar, who came to the United States from Iran on a student visa to attend college in Louisville. It was 1979 and Iran was in political upheaval. And soon after she arrived, 52 Americans were taken hostage in Teheran, which created huge unrest and street demonstrations here in the US, too.

Mojgan Samardar 1979.jpg
courtesy of Mojgan Samardar
Mojgan Samardar came to the United States from Iran in 1979 on a student visa to attend college in Louisville

Adjusting to life in America was hard for Mojgan - she’d never been away from home alone, she had just turned 20 and she was homesick.

"It’s always like you are bridging two different worlds, especially where I come from, from the Middle East to the United States. If you really think about it, the language is different, the writing is different, the alphabet is different, the customs is different and the food was very different. So I used to put lemon juice on everything, just to make it different."

Mojgan had a laser focus. Studying day and night, she eventually got a PhD in engineering. She became a US citizen at a ceremony in Cincinnati, which gave her opportunities she would have never had, she says, and a career she’s loved.

But still, she says, "There is some sense of longing. You know, not to be able to hear your own language, your own poetry. I mean, Farsi is such a rich language and I don’t hear that every day. But really, right now this is home. It’s just like, that is home and this is home, so I cannot separate myself from either one."

In our new series The Bind That Ties, you'll hear more of Mojgan's story and 11 others.

"When we hear each other's stories, that is the bind that ties all of us together," she says. "That was what I set out to do. My goal was - from different countries, different genders, different relationships. They bring from their own experience and knowledge a richness to the community that we need, you know? It's just wonderful."

This story was created at the Eichelberger Center for Community Voices at WYSO.