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Refugee’s ‘Guide to America’ shows what it’s really like to pursue the American Dream


ooking back, there are countless truths Roya Hakakian, the author of A Beginner’s Guide to America for the Immigrant and the Curious, wishes she had known about the US before she arrived in the country as a teenage refugee in the 1980s. For example, do native-born Americans even recognise what a privilege it is to be able to return store-bought items on demand?

“I think many people who have been born and raised here have just made certain assumptions about, you know, [even] the shopping experience,” Hakakian tells The Independent . “People assume that anywhere in the world, if you’ve kept your receipt, you can return an item to the store where you bought it from.

Yet, in many countries around the world, that simply isn’t the case and part of that, the author and poet said, is because not all nations have a “system that’s set up around the rights of the individual … That is almost uniquely American.”

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