Audio Recording of Interview
Alexander shares his journey of immigrating to the United States from Ukraine through a visa diversity program. He details his motives for leaving home, including economic and political tension, as well as the resources and lifestyle he seeks in the United States.
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Location: Brooklyn, NY
Summary: Alexander shares his journey of immigrating to the United States from Ukraine through a visa diversity program. He details his motives for leaving home, including economic and political tension, as well as the resources and lifestyle he seeks in the United States.
Topics: Conditions back home, cultural adjustment, immigration process, religion, language, employment, education
Section 1: (00:00-10:49)
Immigration process, conditions back home - Talks about his decision to immigrate to the U.S. due to economic and political turmoil in Ukraine after entering the lottery system. Ultimately, Alexander won a green card in September 2018 after taking part in the visa lottery that aimed to increase diversity.
Religion - Describes how he identifies as Orthodox and observes all of the religious holidays because in Ukraine it is common for individuals to view going to church with their families on large holidays like Easter as mandatory. However, he does not attend church every week. Further, he details the religious landscape in Ukraine, which is now a Catholic country primarily divided into Catholicism and Orthodox. Though, the ability to openly practice religion during the country's period associated with the Soviet Union prohibited citizens from practicing their religions due to the communist presence. Additionally, he shares how he views Americans as being more religious than Ukranians when asked to compare and contrast the religious landscapes due to the increased presence of churches and of distinct neighborhoods such as the Jewish neighborhood with people from former Soviet Union countries where he lives in Brighton Beach.
Cultural adjustment - Speaks about how life in the States is not as simple as it may first appear because of the amount of work required to be able to pay rent and purchase food as well as the general sense that Americans reward hard working people. Alexander also gives examples of the ways he observes religious attitudes in the States which include people saying “God bless you” and the national currency saying “In God We Trust.” Additionally, he notes how he no longer observed religious holidays in the States that he would have with family at church in Ukraine since he views himself as in a survival period where he is not yet assimilated.
Section 2: (10:50-24:25)
Cultural adjustment, language, employment - Shares how he seeks to feel settled and comfortable in the States which he describes as being in a constant job that interests him. Currently, he works as a sales associate, but he hopes to rebuild his career in the hospitality industry. Additionally, he notes how English is not his native language, and he often feels like he is a young child learning a new language and a new way of life.
Immigration process, employment, education- Expresses gratitude for various nonprofit organizations that helped him from the time he arrived in the States like Emma’s Torch which empowers refugees through culinary education, the YMCA where he attended free English classes, and the Shorefront Organization that taught him how to approach the American college system for future plans.
Religion - Alexander talks about faith supporting him through difficult experiences in the States such as trying to secure housing and having to live in hostels since he was constantly denied housing as an immigrant. Ultimately, his biggest advice to new immigrants in the United States is to seek out non profit organizations that can help with resettlement efforts and to believe in God in order to feel supported and cared for.