Being an immigrant is tough. Moving to a new country can be a scary situation: New country, new language, and in many cases, with no support system, you have to figure a way to survive.
Survival – That’s the story of the former Iranian refugee Sam Bakhtiar.
Sam’s life has been far from perfect. His story, in large part, is rooted in a fight for freedom and survival.
During my conversation with him, I couldn’t help but feel reflected in his story. As an immigrant from Venezuela, I too, had to face some of the same challenges growing up.
Most of Sam’s childhood was spent in Iran where he and his family lived in constant fear. His parents divorced when he was just three years old and he never saw or heard from his dad again. Raised by his grandparents and single mom, Sam thought this war stricken poverty way of life was normal.
“My mom and I moved from Iran to the U.S. when I was 11 years old. We arrived with only $500 and one piece of luggage. With no family, no friends, no money, and no resources, we had to develop a “make it happen, no matter what” attitude. We learned how to make things happen from thin air,” he said.
Barely speaking English, being a minority, poor, and in a foreign country Sam longed to fit in. His love of sports gave him his first excitement to try out for a basketball team. When the 5’5” immigrant was rejected from the team, during his two hour hike home in the snow, he vowed that he would be a success one day.
It was during that moment that he learned the importance of being persistence and never giving up.
It would be that same persistence that years later got him to get involved with bodybuilding, training day in and out, nonstop, until he became a champion of his gym, and every class and training he attended moving forward.
Interestingly enough, what I found so fascinating about Sam was his humility and charismatic way of always finding a way to empower, teach, and look for ways to transform the next group of individuals to reach their own version of success.
Life can be tough, it will throw curve balls at you. But if you remain calm, stay consistent, as Sam did so many years ago, you will eventually reach your desired destination.
As the well-known immigrant Albert Einstein once said:
“You and you alone have the capacity to create the life of your dreams.”