I am Arzhang Janipour from Iran, and I’m 28. The reason I left Iran was because I had some problems. Of course I am missing my parents my father my mother, my brothers, my sister, my exercises and wrestling, my friends and my job from back in Iran.
After three and a half months’ time in detention centres we were released into community on bridging visas. I was brought here to Sydney and while I was here for the first six weeks I lived in a hotel. It was very difficult living in a hotel without knowing Australia. Being on a bridging visa and being in Australia, was not familiar for me, and it was very difficult for me at that time.
Back in my home country I did have the dream to continue my wrestling career and maybe to step up to victories and championships. Then I get my problems and I think, well I can only fulfil my dreams if I can get to Australia. Part of my aim was to get to Australia, wrestle for Australia in international championships and then putting the flag of Australia and raise it up to my achievements.
My good case manager Kathy Popic, I told her about my dreams and she helped me find a wrestling club. I can say about the wrestling in Iran that children who are born in Iran have wrestling in their blood. Because it is the first sport in the country and it is the hardest sport. It is not easy. In 2003 I was the champion in the category of the young people.
Australia gave me protection. Yes, protected me. So Australia is like my home now. Whatever I can do as a national of this country I will do for Australia. So now Australia is treated as my second home and whatever makes Australia proud of me, I’ll do it. It will be very proud for me that I am representing Australia and I will be feeling so happy with the jersey of Australia on me. I can tell you that there is no word for me that can tell what that feeling is like.
My ultimate goal is that I would like to change negative views that some Australians have towards asylum seekers – to tell them, ''Ok we are asylum seekers, we can do achievements'', – to change their views from negative to positive.
I do understand that there are some asylum seekers who arrive in this country but they are not in the interests of this country. But I can tell you the five fingers of your hand are not the same.
I am going to English classes five days a week, Monday to Friday, from 8.45am to 1 o’clock in the afternoon because I would love to learn the English language quickly. If I am to make dreams come true I have to know English well.
Now I have got my permanent residency, I am living in Australia and I feel I am an Australian.
Note: This interview first appeared on smh.com.au.