I graduated from the Art department in 2015. Currently I am teaching at the School of Art + Design here at the University of Oregon. I was born and raised in Tehran, Iran before I move to the US in 2011. However, I believe regardless of your nationality home is where you live, thrive, contribute and nurture; so I would say right now, my home is here, in Eugene, Oregon.
My community here is very diverse and interdisciplinary. We have a small community of Iranians here in Eugene, mostly students, who I hang out with so often. There are also other communities made of staff, former colleagues and graduate students, and faculty that I am usually in touch with.
There are always numerous challenges for international students during their education. Language barrier, changes in culture and identity, cutting off from family and the social support back in the home, and finding support within a new community are just few of those challenges that I was dealing with.
The ways in which you could overcome these challenges are very subjective and it is based on one's personality. Based on my practice as an artist, I tried to address the challenge directly by developing a form of communication between my home culture and the new culture that I was exposed to through research and my art projects. And as a student that was actually very promising for my academic career as well. So I believe, the best approach is finding a way to establish yourself within the new society by being productive and by effectively contributing to your new community through what you are good at. That helps you to feel that you belong, and it allows you to rightfully demand and receive support from your community.