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An Interview with Parisa Ally Ahmadi


My name is Parisa Ally Ahmadi. While my given name is Parisa, I go by “Ally” in my personal and creative endeavors, a name that resonates deeply with my soul. I was born in Iran in 1996 as a refugee and later returned to my motherland, Afghanistan, when I faced rejection in Iran during my second grade. This experience not only shaped my identity but also inspired the name “Ally,” which I hold dear.

At the age of 19, following the completion of my high school program, I immigrated to Malaysia in 2017 after marrying and relocating with my family. While “Ahmadi” is my family name inherited from my father, the name “Ally” reflects my true essence and purpose. Embracing this identity has empowered me to pursue a journey of self-discovery and service to others, guided by the voice of my soul.

I am grateful for the diverse experiences that have molded me, including my status as a refugee recognized by the USCIS. Despite the bureaucratic label, I find solace in knowing that my roots transcend borders, and my empathy extends to every corner of this earth and beyond.

In addition to being a mother to my son, Amir Danial, affectionately known as Subhan, I am also an author. I have penned a book titled Three People in a Suitcase, along with contributing three chapters to various books for both inspiration and research purposes. Through my writing, I aim to explore the depths of human potential and inspire others to embrace their own journey of self-discovery and growth.

As of today, my journey continues, fueled by a passion for spreading love and making a positive impact in the world.

Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?

Social norms, stigmas, biases, and judgment on identities! The importance of identity for people was something triggered me for the first time when I felt what refugee means in 2019.

The inspiration behind my book stems from a desire to translate complex concepts into a friendly narrative rather than a dry report. As I embarked on this journey, I found myself not at odds with the bureaucratic processes but rather bemused by my inability to comprehend the language of organizations and laws, even as I cooperated with them.

Through the lens of fiction, I aimed to convey a message to fellow refugees: that despite the challenges we face, it’s not insurmountable to navigate the intricacies of resettlement and adaptation. In times of need, we must be willing to evolve, transform, and embrace the journey of integrating into a new country.

Moreover, I sought to highlight the importance of self-empowerment and community engagement. While external support is valuable, true development and empowerment often lie within our own hands. By fostering collaboration both externally and internally, we can create a more welcoming and inclusive environment for ourselves and others within our community.

What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?

Throughout my career, I have predominantly worked within the nonprofit sector, including founding and leading my own nonprofit organization, the International Ally Federation. My focus has been on various refugee projects, both short and long term, with an emphasis on promoting well-being and implementing self-help methodologies such as mentoring.

In my roles, I have served as an interpreter, mentor, coach, facilitator, community support, community focal point, and group coach. Rather than gravitating towards administrative or managerial tasks, I find fulfillment in the practical aspects of engaging with individuals, being a listening ear, and offering guidance as the go-to person for problem-solving.

Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?

Selecting the title for my book was no easy task. I had a multitude of ideas swirling around in my mind, but I was searching for something that encapsulated the journey of self-discovery amidst the expectations society places upon us. I wanted a title that resonated particularly with individuals navigating depression, trauma, or facing special needs diagnoses, although its themes are universal.

After much contemplation, I settled on Three People In A Suitcase. This title symbolizes the struggle of trying to contain multiple facets of one’s identity within the confines of societal norms and expectations. It reflects the notion of individuals feeling pressured to compartmentalize themselves into neat boxes for the sake of conformity and safety, all the while acknowledging that none of these identities should be discarded. Instead, the goal is to accept and embrace the complexities of one’s being, rather than denying or defending against the reality of being multifaceted.

How did it feel when you first saw your book cover? Or when you first held your book in your hands?

Seeing my book cover for the first time was a moment filled with gratitude and reflection. It made me realize the worth and impact of my journey, particularly through immigration and personal growth. It felt like a symbolic beginning, marking the start of a new chapter where I was ready to listen to and embrace whatever came next in my journey. It made me feel I am starting a journey of entrepreneurship helping others come to this milestone and realization of their power and feel progressed and loved anywhere they are. It is possible.

What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?

One key message I hope readers take away from my book is the understanding that safety and insecurity are not bound by physical location. Through the experiences of the character in the narrative, readers witness the mental and emotional challenges that can accompany immigration, leading to feelings of unsafety. However, I aim to convey that success, happiness, growth, love, and self-discovery transcend demographic borders. Regardless of external circumstances, individuals have the power to find gratitude and fulfillment within themselves.

My vision of the perfect reader is someone who approaches the book with an open mind and heart, ready to explore the complexities of human experience. This reader is empathetic, curious, and willing to reflect on their own journey as they navigate the story’s themes of resilience, self-discovery, and well-being. Ultimately, I hope my book serves as a catalyst for introspection and inspires readers to prioritize their own well-being and personal growth. Be an ally toward self any where you are right now.

What was the most rewarding/meaningful part of publishing your book?

The most rewarding and meaningful part of publishing my book was reaching the moment where I confidently said, “Yes, this is the final version, and I agree with the proofreading part. Let’s make it public.” It was a mix of fear and excitement—those moments that appear daunting often yield the most rewarding outcomes. Stepping into the unknown, despite the fear, brought a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment that made the entire journey worthwhile.

What new writing projects are you currently working on? Or, other projects that are not writing?

Currently, I’m deeply immersed in a writing project that I’m thrilled to bring to fruition. It’s a self-help book titled Life Journey Journal, set to launch on Amazon in the summer of 2024. This journal will be available in both English and Persian languages, aiming to provide readers with over 70 coaching tips for self-improvement and personal growth.

I’m particularly excited about this project as it serves as a self-guide tool, offering invaluable insights into two essential life charts that I believe everyone should have hanging on their walls. In addition to the book’s publication and promotional efforts, I’m also developing workshops for the summer season. These workshops will focus on delving deeper into the concepts presented in the book, particularly emphasizing the “Life Mediation & Self-Care Plan Chart” and the “Path Pilot Chart.”

These workshops will be offered free of charge, fostering reflection and practical discussions inspired by the themes explored in my upcoming book. For those seeking more personalized guidance, I’ll also be offering one-on-one sessions during the summer. I encourage anyone interested to reach out via email, and I’ll be sharing registration links for the workshops soon.

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