Welcome back to Episode 82 of our Daily Interaction Show! Today’s guest is a pretty special person to me. In 2006, I was lost & confused in my corporate career and during one of my many business trips to California, a director friend gave me a copy of this book “Funny in Farsi”. I loved reading and writing about Funny in Farsi. Everyone was handing me business books to find my career path but this guy gave me a Persian memoir, a book that made me laugh as hard as it made me cry… and reading it was the seed of inspiration for the future of my own career.
Our guest is Firoozeh Dumas, the author of “Funny in Farsi” as well as “Laughing without an Accent”. Firoozeh is from Iran, we share the same “vat-an” or home country. She immigrated to America with her family when she was just 7 years old. Two years in America then they moved back to Iran and then 2 years later, they moved back to California. Lots of adjustments no doubt. She came to the US during a hard time for Iranian immigrants in the 1970s and yet I love the way she tells of her adventures, her parents’ take on the American culture and America’s take on the Iranian culture.
She’s an incredible author, and has received well-deserved attention for her work including best seller status on SF Chronicle & LA times as well as being the 2005 Finalist of Thurber Prize for American Humor.
My deep connection to Firoozeh is her powerful use of both humor and irony to illustrate the experiences of being an immigrant, one to which I so dearly relate, and the encouragement that we are better off accepting each other despite our differences.
Why she is on our show today? First, because writing is a powerful medium of communication and we tap into that briefly. Second, being an immigrant and interacting effectively in a new culture can be useful to you, whether you are in that situation now or may find yourself in it later.
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Interview Questions to Firoozeh about Writing Your Memoirs and Protecting Your Dreams:
1. Firoozeh, we immigrated to America at 15, you immigrated at 7. I didn’t find anything positive about “not fitting in”. You were able to transform your awkward experience into an amazing & funny memoir with a powerful message. For those of us who feel disconnected from the culture where we live, can you give us your thoughts and advice on better adjusting & accepting it?
2. I want to talk to you about your reasons to turn to writing. To me, writing is therapeutic and healing and sharing the written word is of course powerful but everyone writes for different reasons. Why did you start writing? What has writing done for you?
3. I remember contacting you after reading Funny in Farsi. It touched me deeply. Unfortunately, I can’t get anyone in my family to cooperate so I can write my own memoirs but that’s a different story – How did your parents react to your sharing those intimate stories with the world?
4. Living here in America for 20 odd years, I have been on both sides, both as an immigrant and as a welcoming American to new immigrants and I still feel so much compassion for the newly arrived immigrant. What would you want to say to an American (or a citizen of any country) on meeting immigrants into their land? How should they interact with them?
5. Your story telling is powerful, Firoozeh, would you like to share a recent story that shows both the contrast and yet the similarities of Persians to Americans? You and I have no issues laughing at our own funny culture, that’s for sure!
6. Our final question – which is the same question I ask all my interviewees: I want to leave our listeners with actions! What are one (or two) things that they can do RIGHT AWAY after this show to be more aware of their interactions in a new culture?
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