News: Bridging cultural gaps
Story by Staff Sgt. Antwaun Parrish
FORT IRWIN, Calif. – When Hussein Farhadikia first moved to Atlanta in 2003, he began delivering pizzas but quickly worked his way to district manager in no time. He was determined to make a good life for his family, but because of the stressors of his position and lack of time afforded to spend with his family, he sought a different career.
The 40-year-old decided to become a linguist/translator for the Army in 2010 and hasn’t looked backed in the pizza oven ever since. Spc. Farhadikia is currently assigned to 51st Translator Interpreter Company at Fort Irwin, Calif.
“I saw a better opportunity for progress,” said Farhadikia, a native of Tehran, Iran. “I just wanted to move forward.”
His company provides host nation translation and culture advice to units during their training at the National Training Center, to prepare them for their missions in foreign nations prior to deployment.
“People often think that our only job is to translate,” said Farhadikia. “But advising the commander on culture helps to understand the translation entirely and provides insight on how to properly handle situations.”
Spc. Emin Melikian is a linguist/translator in Farhadikia’s unit, and also a fellow native of Tehran. Melikian agrees that knowing the culture is more important than just translating words.
“You must have an idea of everything about the language,” said Melikian. “For example, if someone needs something translated in the medical field I have to be able to transpose it. You have to know a lot to handle this job.”
Farhadikia earned his bachelor’s degree from Islamic Azad University and began a non-government association focused on nutrition and diet. He served as the head of the board of directors and trustees.
“We ended up having over 2500 employees for the association,” Farhadikia said.
He gave up his life in Iran when he met his American wife there and moved to Atlanta.
He admitted the most difficult part of his transition was getting to know the culture, which he encountered every day in the southern city.
“When you’re living with someone from a different culture you have to make sure you understand each other to make it work,” he said.
He explained that Iran has a deep history and a lot of its culture allows for no shift in in its ways. For example, in Iran, leaving home at 18 is not the norm, like in American culture; you stay with your family until you’ve married.
“I try to take good things from both cultures and make it work,” said Farhadikia.
Melikian also experienced a culture shock when moving to the U.S., but in a different way.
“When I moved to LA, I was surprised to see so many different cultures mixed in one area,” said Melikian, who also was a translator in Armenia for tourist and visiting businessmen.
Farhadikia, who has two children, speaks four languages: English, Tajiki, Dari and Farsi. Because of constant NTC rotations, he gets much practice at his profession.
Both soldiers were working with the 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division during the brigade’s NTC rotation June 8-22, helping prepare for its deployment to Afghanistan later this year.
Farhadikia enjoyed the unit and looks forward to working with more units and their training rotations to the area.
“I’m proud of what I do every day,” he said. “I’m helping my fellow soldiers and battle buddies.”