We have such a vibrant photo community here in Portland. Friends Jim Lommasson and Paige Stoyer worked this year to put together a wonderful show of photographs featuring the stories of US immigrants. A moving counterpoint to the national angst over the immigration issue, these photos and stories breathe life into this often two-dimensional debate.
I had the privilege of talking with Sosan (pictured here) about her life as an immigrant from Kabul, Afghanistan. Moving to Russia and then the US with her small family, she’s had to learn English, learn American culture, and work hard to pursue her education. It was a fascinating conversation, and I was honored to be able to create this portrait of her.
We say in Afghanistan everyone has a moon, illuminating our lives. The moon has a bright side and a dark side. I was born in Kabul, Afghanistan. The dark side of my moon occurred when I was five years old, and the Taliban occupied my country. That time was dreadful for all Afghanis, but mostly for women. All schools were closed for women, so I went to a secret school for five years. I had a very hard time, but my parents pushed me to keep trying.
I graduated from high school in 2008, when I was 18 years old. In 2009 I was married, then I moved to Moscow for a better life and education. However, life in Russia was even harder than in my own country. Finally, I came to the United States in September 2011.
Now I am living a better life, but it is not easy. I have not allowed the language barrier or any of life’s hardships to stop me from continuing my education. I am balancing motherhood with learning English and going to school. This is not only for myself, but for my family’s security. My greatest life purpose is to serve those who have limited opportunities in their lives. I want to be able to encourage others to work hard to achieve their goals. My goals are to complete my prerequisite classes, earn my associate’s degree, and then my bachelor’s degree of science, hoping to work in a medical career.
Immigrant Stories will be on display at both Blue Sky Gallery and ProPhoto Supply, in Portland, through the summer. I hope you’ll stop by to view and read the stories of these courageous people.