, Newburyport, MA


November 27, 2012

Seeing America through immigrants' eyes

It’s refreshing to see our country through the eyes of immigrants. It reminds us that the foundation that this nation was built upon is as strong today as when it was first conceived in 1776.

As has become something of a recent tradition here at The Daily News, at Thanksgiving time the newspaper published a series of stories on the experiences of recent immigrants who have settled in the Newburyport area. No two stories are alike, but there is a theme that runs through all of them.

There are the stories of immigrants whose families fled here in the face of political and social upheaval, as was the case with Dr. Sam Merabi. Born in Iran, his family left in the early days of the Iranian Revolution.

“Our family had been doing well in Iran, but when we got here, moving to a mixed neighborhood in the Philadelphia area, we struggled. As I was growing up, my parents expected me to excel and create a career with a future,” he told reporter Dyke Hendrickson.

He worked hard, and eventually settled on dentistry as his trade. He recently opened Portside Family Dental in Newburyport. His roots in an immigrant neighborhood had a strong influence on his life. He earned a master’s of public health from Harvard, and created a program to improve dental health in a village in the African country of Malawi. That led him to another mission — charting water sources so villagers can drink untainted water.

“I have absolutely benefited from growing up in this country,” he said. “There were schools, social programs in the community and I remember watching PBS and getting excited by the science I saw there,” he said. “Given the situation — where families in Iran and many others had to suddenly leave — I feel fortunate that we were able to come to this country and start new lives.”

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