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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: Mojgan Samardar And Mirza Mirza

In the second installment of WYSO's series The Bind That Ties, we hear Mojgan Samardar, who we met briefly last week, and Mirza Mirza, a local businessman of Turkish ancestry. Mirza came to the US as a refugee just ten years ago, forced to flee the Russian republic of Chechnya. Mojgan came to the US 42 years ago from Iran on a student visa.


Mojgan Samardar: My name is Mojgan Samardar. I guess I'm one of the Community Voices producers. That's what we call them ourselves, for WYSO. And I'll let you introduce yourself.

Mirza Mirza: My name is Mirza. I'm an immigrant. I immigrated from Russia. I'm a full-time business owner, full time dad and part time community volunteer. My family and myself, we immigrated in 2006 to Oakland, California. I moved to Dayton in January 6, 2010.

Mojgan Samardar: So how did you go about immigrating to the United States?

Mirza Mirza: In some parts of Russia, our Turkish people, they were facing lots of discrimination and violence. Our elders have asked the UN to move us somewhere that we could continue our life peacefully.

Mojgan Samardar: And with that came all of your traditions and all the customs...

Mirza Mirza: Yeah, All those kids that came about 15, 16 years ago, the United States. Now they're grown adults and they're getting married. And we pretty much have lots of weddings going on every month. Other than that, we have established a mosque here in Dayton, Ohio, called Osman Gazi Masjid. That is the first mosque since we were moved from Georgia that our Turkish people have bought it out and build it from ground up.

Mojgan Samardar: So in Dayton you have a very strong Turkish community.

Mirza Mirza: So once we lived in California, it would take you six, seven hours to go and visit your family. Relatives that live in Oregon or Washington now wouldn't six, seven hours in Dayton, you could achieve a few states, at least so. And we had many of our family relatives that wanted to come to Dayton because of cheaper living in here. We still have people living in different states that has about maybe 250 families. But the majority of Turkish people population are in Dayton right now.

Mojgan Samardar: So what else would you like to explore? I mean, what is the future for you?

Mirza Mirza: My future is to be able to read more books and know more about the histories of different countries, different nationalities. I read a lot because I have a fear that if my child asks me about it, about the topic and I don't know, my child will be disappointed. Like I ask my dad and my dad doesn't know. And how could I rely on him? And that keeps me going all the time. And I do lots of research. So I could have ideas when my kids, or kids that I teach at the at the mosque, ask me something. I have an answer for them. I read this story: one of the people actually asked a scholar, "My child is 10 years old. And what do you think I could...how could I educate my child? And the scholar answered really wisely. He said, Educate yourself.

Mojgan Samardar: That is such a true statement. My own father was truly a scholar in his own field and in his own area. And he was always studying. And I'm the oldest of three and only daughter, you know, the only girl. He was it was just like instilled in us that the education is your absolute number one.

Mirza Mirza: There is no parent that wants a bad for their kid. Everyone needs to learn throughout their years. And that's one of my inspiration to the kids that I teach at the mosque and my own kids. Many people, since they don't know the histories of other nations, they think that since we're in the United States, we might not face this situation or we might not face this condition. If you forget where he came from, you already lost your future.

Mojgan Samardar: Education is extremely important. And I'm glad that you are setting that as a goal for yourself and your children.

This story was created at the Eichelberger Center for Community Voices at WYSOand was edited by Community Voices producer Tom Amrhein.

Mojgan started her full-time work after completing a Ph.D. in Artificial Intelligence. After a very successful 28 year career as a technical geek, she retired in 2017. While working she attended community voices weekend classes in 2014 and graduated as a Community Voice producer for WYSO Public Radio in Yellow Springs, Ohio. After retirement, Mojgan’s turned to the arts and volunteering activities. She proposed creating community voices stories to highlight immigrants’ voices and contributions in the Miami valley. Her first season production of “The Bind that Ties” in 2020 won first prize in the Radio Documentary of the Associated Press. Season two of the series was broadcast in 2022.