Arash - 1951 Coffee Graduate Series

Arash - 1951 Coffee Graduate Series
Person with hat in front of bush

Tehran is a beautiful city - four seasons, culture, and delicious food like khoresh-e-ghormeh sabzi. Unfortunately, the religious rules made it a difficult city to live in. I had a very, very nice childhood, and I miss it especially now that I have more time to think. 

Iran and America haven’t had a good relationship since the 1979 Revolution. So when the Iranian government says something anti-American, it doesn’t mean all Iranians hate America or want to hurt Americans. In fact, I’m sure that more than 90%, 95% even, love Americans and have respect for them. All the craziness they show, it’s just government advertising. We can’t judge the people by their government, especially when it’s a dictatorship. I’m Iranian, but it doesn’t mean I know everything about how and why Iran’s government produces nuclear bombs. I want people to really understand that the Iranian people are separate from the government. 

My mother wanted me to be a pilot. I wanted to be one of those people who moves the robot from the inside…like Iron Man. When I wasn’t playing with robots, I was playing with Legos  - I’d make a house, then an even bigger house, brick by brick. I loved robots so much that when I started college, I chose to study Electronics Engineering. I got my Associate’s Degree in Electronics Engineering, but at the age of 23, I had to make the difficult decision to leave Tehran and Iran altogether. 

As an Iranian citizen, I didn’t need a visa to travel to Turkey. So the first day I arrived, I immediately went to the United Nations and applied for asylum. They told me I would have to wait two years. I was upset, but even waiting was better than being in Iran. I couldn’t go back home. 

Somehow, the process only took me six or seven months. I did my interview and they told me if you want, you can go to the United States. I did my interview with the International Catholic Migration Commission, a group that works with the American Government. It was November or December 2016 by this time. But then President Trump passed the Muslim Ban and since I’m from Iran, it affected my situation. I had to wait. 

It was a sunny day, February 3, 2019. At random, I checked the immigration website and I said: “Oh my god, they gave me a date!” I was crying and screaming! My roommate said: “what happened to you?” I showed him the date they finally gave me. Before you come to America you’re supposed to have a medical exam and take a class to learn about American culture, so I immediately got the information for that. I waited for more than two years - from January 2017 to February 2019. I passed the medical and culture exams and two months later I was on my way to America. 

One benefit of coming to America as a refugee, your legal paperwork is taken care of, so you can immediately start rebuilding your life. 

Person with hat in front of flowers

My Case Manager at Jewish Family Community Services (JFCS) asked what my last job was and I told them I was a Barista in Turkey. They referred me to 1951 Coffee Company. 

In Turkey, I really loved working as a Barista. Mostly because so many young, cool people who love talking and are friendly would visit the cafe. I also love the coffee, the smell of coffee, everything about coffee. So I was excited to be a Barista in America

Being in America has been the best part of my life and worst part of my life. The day before graduating from the Barista Training Program I got word from my brother and father that my mother, my best friend, had an aneurysm and passed away. It was a major shock for me. The best and worst things happening together. It all happened so quickly. Even though my family was not with me, I was lucky to be surrounded by good people that care about me. 

After graduation, Rachael (1951 Coffee’s Program Manager and Instructor)  came with me to my interview at Equator Coffees. It was the end of May. It was a month after my mother had passed away, but I knew the job would help keep my mind busy. I interviewed. They liked me... I loved them and started working June 1. I had very, very, very good vibes at work. I was at the Equator Coffees in the LinkedIn Building on 2nd Street. The customers were cool, my manager was cool, my coworkers were cool, it was lots of fun! Once I started working full time, my routine was to leave the house at 7:00am, start my classes at San Francisco City College at 8:00 am, start work at 11:00am, finish work at 7:00pm, go to the gym if I could, then it’s a circle. 

After starting at Equator Coffees, my latte art got better because my manager, Vicky, insisted I perfect it. I remember she gave me time and asked my supervisor to help too. I really love making coffee beverages that need art, like lattes and cappuccinos. Making the heart is easiest for me, but with practice I can now make a really good rose. When it comes to drinking, I love drinking espresso without milk, because I really love the flavors of coffee. 

But then coronavirus came and on March 15, Equator Coffees shut down. My manager, Vicky, was great - she told me she hoped it would take two to three weeks, and we were hoping so too. But now it’s almost nine months, and we’re still dealing with it. 

Before the pandemic I was taking classes at San Francisco City College for Computer Science and was studying Python. I’d even tried transferring some of my credit from the degree I had in Iran, but they said I couldn’t transfer that credit, so I’m starting college all over again. When the pandemic went into full effect, I couldn’t take classes online because I couldn’t access my classmates and my level of English is not enough to handle an academic science book by myself.

So in October I started a training program with HUMANMADE to learn about Industrial Manufacturing and 3D Printing - which is a 12 week, 300 hour training program. I’m excited for this program, because I’ll get to work with my hands and fix things! 

It makes me sad not to be in college part time or full time, because I really care about my education and want to get more skills so I can improve my career and future. After all, I would like to have a family here. But in order to start a family, which is a big responsibility, I need to make sure I have a good job so I can afford to live in the Bay Area and give my family a good life. 

After a year and a half, I'm still learning and I still get culture shock. America is a cool land, because you can find every culture and people from all over the world here. Moving to the Bay Area, Asian and Mexican foods were new to me...and I love their food now! I haven’t left California and not sure if this is true for the rest of the country, but I think it’s so cool how kind people are here.