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Our Lucky Journey

Alex Chakhovskoi's story posted on May 23, 2013 at 1:29 pm. Alex emigrated from Moscow, Russia to San Francisco, United States in 1992

We originally came to America in 1992. Our family came here after I was offered a job in a laboratory in California. As a scientist from the Soviet Union, receiving a job offer like this in america was almost unheard of. I met a scientist by the name of Hunt at an international scientific conference. He loved my presentation on the various experiments we have been conducting in our labs, and actually offered me the job on the spot. I debated this potential job with my family for a long time, but in the end we decided it would be beneficial to go to America for a year, just to save up some money for a new apartment. Many of our family members did not agree with what we were doing, but this was a once in a lifetime opportunity that we just could not let this unique chance slip.


Back then, America was a complete mystery to us. We had no idea what to expect, as every story that we had been told differed from the last. We arrived in the county with two luggage bags; one filled with such various things as a pot, a plate, some forks, a knife, and enough Russian textbooks to keep my brother up to date the entire year. Besides the two luggage bags, and $300 in my pocket, we had absolutely nothing. You can imagine our panic when we were forced to spend our first night in the country in a motel.


What we did not expect, was the absolute support of the colleagues in the university. Hunt informed all of his lab workers about our situation, and how we would be coming to the country with almost nothing, and asked if there was anything anyone could bring in to help us out. Everyone pitched in. We received such wonderful items such as an old microwave, a food processor, and even an old colour television that someone had lying around. Many of the things that we had received from co workers we would never have imagined owning in our own life back home, but here people gave them to us out of the sheer goodness of their heart. It was very strange adjusting to the small things, such as what people said and how they said them. The first two weeks or so we were very perplexed at cashiers at grocery stores. All of them, after packing your bags, would wish you a good night, something we had never heard before. Such niceness was unheard of in the Soviet Union, it took some time to adjust.


It was usual within our family to talk about going back to Russia, but every time that conversation was brought up, it eventually died out. We travel there once every year, for about two or three months, to visit family members, as well as take care of our parents and personal assets, and the differences between the two countries are right as day. When we are in America, we will actually watch Russian television through the internet, using appropriate channels. You can even watch the new KVN almost two hours after it was aired overseas. It was also really interesting to go see a KVN team perform her in San Francisco on their international y with tour.


We came to this country almost 20 years ago, and don’t regret a second of it. We got very lucky our situation, especially the people and colleagues that decided to help us out during the first few days. We often remember our old home, our old life, but whenever we look around, we realize that it was all worth it.


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