Tell me about your family and coming to Concord.
UNICEF sent us to Concord in November 2007, my mom and dad and me, and we decided to stay. We had seen too much violence, and New Hampshire was peaceful. My father had been an engineer in Afghanistan, and here he got a job as a laborer. My mother was studying English. I was 16 and had zero English. I was helping my parents, going to Concord High School, studying English and working at Walmart and Goodwill. A friend brought me English dictionaries and I sat down every night and studied the vocabulary so I could communicate. I couldn’t make a sentence, but I could use my vocabulary.
How did you meet your husband?
It was a prearranged marriage, through my mom and dad. I went home [to Afghanistan] in 2012 to get married. In 2013 I became a U.S. citizen. In January 2014 he came to the United States.
Had you known him before?
Did that bother you?
Being a teenager and living in the U.S. with all this freedom, I had some concerns. I was debating with my mom. I said, “Mom, I’m still young. I don’t want to get married til I’m 30 or 35. I want to get my education first.” I wanted to be a police officer or a lawyer, but [mom won and] I got married. I came back pregnant with my first child and went to school for business. My two-year degree took me five years; I was also working at Walmart and the campus library and taking night classes. My husband became a citizen last year and has a job here now. This was the first time he could vote, and he was able to vote for his wife.
Did you feel unwelcome here, even before Mr. Patten began his overt campaign against immigrants?
The community was good to us, but the problem was younger people at high school. I was older than others in my class and didn’t speak English, and I didn’t have friends to welcome me or introduce me or give me guidance. They didn’t want to have anything to do with me. I would just say to people now, when you see someone juggling things and trying to fit into the community, they should step in and not hold themselves back.
Mr. Patten questioned your ability to be a state legislator and a mother at the same time. What did you think of that line of attack?
I said, “I can do it!” Being a mother and working two jobs and going to school — it’s almost the same as being a state rep. I have support from my mom, who is willing to watch my children. That was her endorsement. She said, “I will watch the kids. Go for it!”
How did you respond to it?
I don’t really respond to those comments. Just to say, women are capable. I was at college, worked two jobs, raised kids, helped out with my parents and am pregnant — I have faced many situations.