Maria Brinks Arianfar

I am 100% foreign and I love it. I have experienced the Iranian and Danish culture and can switch them - culturally, politically, socially and emotionally - as I see fit. With age, I have become aware that no culture is perfect, and I have therefore found strength in creating my own identity.

It has been painful to discover how difficult it was to be accepted in the world's happiest and most decent country. There is no 100% happy integration. You are always in the dilemma: should you remain true to your original culture or seek acceptance in the new. Many years ago, I was an intern at a nursing home. The nurse handed me a washcloth. Please, wash the paralyzed man's penis. A Muslim woman cannot do that, but I chose immediately to cross boundaries, otherwise I would always have been stuck in a dilemma.

When you choose to enter a new society, you meet criticism and rejection, and then you must show who you are as a human being. Development requires time, resources and effort. Not everyone possesses that or chooses it. For me, there was no choice. I couldn't afford to be naive.

My father was a general in the military, my mother the Persian Emma Gad, so even though I grew up in a safe environment, being a child was not always fun. When I was 12 years old, my politically active sister went to prison and we lost everything. My mother has handed me down a feminist pride I do not experience in the Danish society, and my father, the strength to stand by my choices. Today I am the general of my own life.

Marie Arianfar / 49 / woman / married / children / journalist and host / Mols / from Iran / came to Denmark 1993 / residence permit 1995