Connection through challenging experiences, Hana McPherson
Know Your Place
23 March, 2021
Know Your Place by Golriz Ghahraman is the first book of its kind I have ever read. It’s Golriz’s life story and how being a refugee and someone of colour has affected the way she is perceived. She was born in Iran, but the political climate of war, oppression and dictatorship was not the right place for a woman to grow up and have a free future. So when she was nine years old her parents escaped to New Zealand to seek refuge in a more democratic country.
Moving countries is a massive change, especially as a child. I’ve moved cities before, which was hard, but that is very little compared to moving to a whole other country. It was very difficult for Golriz’s parents, as they had to leave all their friends and family behind. They did this knowing they would likely never see them again. Yet it was important to them that their daughter would be able to grow up and do whatever she wanted, wear whatever she wanted, and speak her mind freely. Golriz, who is the first refugee to ever be elected into New Zealand Parliament, has clearly made the most of all the opportunities she has had. In doing so, she is an inspiration for people everywhere, including myself. She speaks openly of her experiences and about helping others.
The most important theme of her book is to highlight the daily challenges that women and minorities face every day. Being stereotyped, called names, underestimated, attacked on social media and facing accusations of terrorism are things that happen too often. She shares her challenging experiences, both as a child and as an adult; including her trials as a Green Party MP being in the public eye. I felt particularly connected to the last few chapters which she wrote after the Christchurch mosque attack. I can remember the horror I felt as a child learning about the people that died, some of them younger than myself. I feel Golriz’s experiences and the attack sadly prove that there are people out there who will commit heinous acts due to their extreme prejudices. Reading about her ordeals really solidified my belief that we must stand up against hate crimes, sexism and racism. My favourite part of the book is where she includes one of the speeches she wrote in response to the Mosque Shooting. It is heart-breaking, honest and yet hopeful that we as a country and the rest of the world can do better.
I would recommend this book if you want to learn more about these topics. It’s not an easy read as it includes a lot of politics. It is probably not aimed at people who are thirteen, like me, but I enjoyed it and learnt from it. Initially it was hard to get into the story, but once I did I was hooked. I hope others will get as much out of it as I did.
- Hana McPherson is a 13 year old student at Kuranui College.