UMass Boston's independent, student-run newspaper

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Student Profile: Tara Makhmali

Tara Makhmali

Tara Makhmali

I was away when 2005 greeted Boston with a blizzard. I picked up the phone and called home to my friend Tara who lives up the road. In her mellow voice, she filled me in on everything I missed.

Looking out her window, the amount of white overwhelmed her, but she found the quiet of the snow beautiful. “If I stand next to the plowed snow on the streets,” she explained, “it would be over my head.” A perceptive woman, Tara just knew I missed being home. “You sound sad,” she consoled me. I imagined her sitting warm in her home and enjoying the day off from the first day of class of her final semester at UMB. I find Tara to have a pretty unique attitude for someone who lives in a city like Boston. She rarely stresses out, and takes life as it comes to her, almost as if she doesn’t have any set plans.

Don’t get me wrong, my friend has a mission-few of us can say that we were born to have a particular purpose in this world. But there is this serene attitude in her that is likened to a respect of a greater power or wisdom beyond us all. Central to her day is the appreciation of being alive, being free, and most of all, being happy.

Tara was born in the thick conflict: 1982, Tehran, Iran. Wanting to find something better for her two daughters in a nation where many young girls faced unkind futures because of their sex, Tara’s politically active mother applied for and received a scholarship to Michigan State University in ’86. That would be the last time Tara would see home. Suddenly in a new nation that held a promising future, life was actually the reverse for Tara’s family in the US. “We actually went from riches to rags within one year.”

By 1988, Tara’s father, who was unable to culturally adapt to the west, up and left his wife and two daughters.”Basically my mom had 2 kids, was trying to get her PhD, and had little money, but all the while sent us to piano lessons, dance lessons. Reading was a big thing, no matter how tired she was-she always read with me,” recalled Tara.

No matter how difficult life got without emotional and financial support, Tara’s mother got by doing what she knew best: providing for her children. “She’d get veggies in any way she could, even if she had to plant them.” When she was unable to at times, “we were literally splitting packets of Ramen Noodles three ways.”

By high school her mother met a new man and Tara’s immediate family doubled. Suddenly she had a brother and another sister, and she was living in the suburbs of Massachusetts where, she said “several of my schoolmates would drive to school in BMW’s.”

Tara notes that “half my life I grew up poor and the other half was spent in middle class suburbia and by that point, I was surrounded by a lot of misery.” She continued, “It’s funny because when I came into some wealth, I realized that when we were poorest was when we were the happiest because we always remembered what was important. I was around people who knew what it was like to truly live unconcerned about doing things because society wanted them to do it, like making money and living in homes filled with marble interiors.”

Tara equates her views with her decision to come to UMB. “People at UMB really want to be here, not because society expects them to be here. UMB students want to live life. That’s not something I was able to find at a private institution-I looked, believe me!”

Tara plans a trip to Iran to visit at some point in her near future. “I think a visit would open a whole door to myself I didn’t even know was there.” She understands, however, she would be returning with an entirely different perspective of the world than the young women raised in her native country. Despite the years women are still tragically “conditioned to become submissive even if she has the will to be outspoken” stated Tara understanding of her vast freedoms available to her.As far as her mission goes, “I don’t quite know how I want make my mark in this world, but it’s gonna be big.”