It seems as though my father was the backbone of my family's decision to immigrate to America. There was talk of Germany and Israel as well, but my father strongly felt that America was the land of opportunity personally and career-wise. He had been studying English a few years prior to our grand move, and was preparing for life in the new land. As a result, me, my mother, father, and grandparents on both sides were called by my aunt and uncle, our passport to America.
My impression of America has definitely changed over the years I have been here since 1994, since the tender age of 5. Influenced by a wide range of factors: genetics, biology, personality, family, developmental changes, school, environment, society, and most importantly time, I have come to realize the positive and negative aspects to the American system and society. The older I get, the more I realize the hypocrisy of America. However, I also realize the opportunity. There is a potential to establish great careers that pay well. Furthermore, people are free to practice their religion and be who they are unlike where I came from.
Some of my saddest moments adjusting to America included learning the English language. I remember being in the first grade not speaking any English and coming home upset and frustrated that I couldn't understand what was going on. I remember crying and complaining to my parents and grandparents who would comfort by and put things into perspective that I would soon learn the language and speak it better than Russian ( absolutely true).
Some of my most happiest moments adjusting to America would be the friendships that I have made and the career goals that I have established and am working towards. I had more success than frustration with the American school system. The underlying contributing factor to my prosperity involves my parents' success. As a doctor in Ukraine, my father was not making good money at all and he was living with my mother and me at my grandparents house. In America, provided that he worked extremely hard at studying for exams and applying amazing effort, he is now holding a rather prestigious position in American society. America definitely provides people with one important tool: potential. Potential to grow and prosper, leaving the rest up to the individual and how powerful their drive and motivation is. Luckily, my parents afforded me college and I am able to chase my dreams as well.
Whether me, my parents, and grandparents are happy that we emigrated begs a rather, and perhaps inevitably ambivalent response. Since I only came here at 5, I have no idea what my life would have been like growing up in Ukraine. I have nothing to compare it to since that is all I know. My parents prospered in terms of their career, however it seems as though their personal lives may have suffered a bit; there seems to be a preoccupation with money and making more, more, more. My grandparents were much more financially successful in Ukraine, but at the same time are happy that their children and grandchildren are excelling. There are many pros and cons.
There is definitely talk about life before America with my parents and grandparents. Both like to bring up stories and narratives in times that they are reminded of their previous life. Humorously, there seems to be a trend over the years when my behavior or choices seem spoiled or selfish, parents or grandparents, astonishingly, bring up stories from their own childhood usually entailing how much they DIDN'T have of what I currently have. While it used to elicit guilty feelings, I have come to realize that it's not my fault that I am more privileged than them.
In terms of future generations, I would definitely like my children to know that myself, their grandparents and great grandparents are immigrants. I would also inform them of the brief history of the family as to how it came about and why. It's important to preserve roots and be aware and tuned into the past. Furthermore, I would like my children to speak the Russian language and understand Russian Jewish culture even if they are not religious or won't be raised in Ukraine.