By Hannah Dueweke, Contributor
Born in Saudi Arabia, raised in Canada, and currently residing in the United States, Salwa Tareen, K ‘14, is a woman of multiple cultures. As a double immigrant, she has unique opinions regarding the immigration standards and policies in the United States.
Tareen’s parents sensed that Saudia Arabia was not the best place to raise children, and that Pakistan would soon become unstable. When her father was offered a job in Canada in 1995, her family acquired Canadian visas with little difficulty and moved to a small town outside of Toronto. After a few years, her mother was offered a job in Kalamazoo, and the Tareens decided to move once again. The family received permanent residency last year.Originally, the Tareen family wanted to stay in Canada and saw Kalamazoo as a temporary change in residence. Tareen said, “My father and sisters still considered themselves to be Canadian. They were opposed to living in America.” Although Tareen was nervous to move at the age of nine, she quickly adjusted and made friends easily.
Despite her relatively uncomplicated transitions, Tareen still recalls encounters with discrimination. Following the events of 9/11, Tareen’s classmates assigned her a new nickname: O-Salwa bin Laden. “It took me years to realize that they were associating me – a little fourth grader – with this man of evil,” said Tareen, “but in my family we’ve learned to shrug it off.”
Tareen is disappointed at the ignorance of many Americans. She specifically lamented the part that racism can play in politics. “There’s a lot of xenophobia in the U.S. that is being implemented into the legal realm,” she said, running her fingers through her thick dark hair. “This nation has taken so much pride over its immigrants and the culture they have contributed, and I think it’s hypocritical to be so discriminatory.”