Interview for

Zina Valkovsky

8/30/2019

Interviewed By:

Simone Wallk

Date Interviewed:

Audio Recording of Interview
00:00 / 1:16:19
Summary

Zina Valkovsky describes her experience fleeing Ukraine for Uzbekistan in World War II as a Jewish woman, and her subsequent resettlement in the United States in 1994, where she found applying for jobs and the acculturation process to be difficult. Zina discusses her personal connection to Jewish identity and religion, as well as her advice for fellow refugees coming to the United States.

Transcript
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Additional Notes
Outline

This interview was recorded in four parts, so you may hear sudden shifts in conversation as a result. The second part begins at 50:23, and the following outline describes the second part.


Narrator: Zina Valkovsky

Date: August 30, 2019

Location: Zina’s home in Chicago


Summary: Zina Valkovsky describes her experience fleeing Ukraine for Uzbekistan in World War II as a Jewish woman, and her subsequent resettlement in the United States in 1994, where she found applying for jobs and the acculturation process to be difficult. Zina discusses her personal connection to Jewish identity and religion, as well as her advice for fellow refugees coming to the United States.

Topics: Childhood, War, Immigration Process, Family, Cultural Adjustment, Language, Employment, Religion


Outline

Section 1: (00:00-13:16)

  • Childhood, War- Born in Kharkiv, Ukraine in 1935. Moved to Uzbekistan because of the war

  • Immigration Process- Resettled in the US in January 1994. Flew from Moscow to New York, then to Chicago

  • Family- Son was already at Indiana University, so he helped them resettle and made the process easier

  • Cultural Adjustment- Found stores like Crate and Barrel interesting and surprising

  • Surprised by the difference in how she saw people dress for cold weather in Chicago vs. Russia

  • Language- American English was difficult to learn because British English was taught in Russia

  • Employment- Caseworker from JCC explained that it would be difficult to find a job at their age (59 years old), but they still tried to find jobs

  • She did find a job, but was the only Jewish person in the office

Section 2: (13:16-22:22)

  • Religion, Family- Throughout her childhood, religion was not allowed. Still learned Judaism from her dad

  • Religion- Doesn’t see herself as a “real religious woman” because it was hard to follow all of the rules.

  • Language- It was also hard to connect with people at the synagogue because of the language differences

  • Religion- Likes going to synagogue on holidays, but was too busy to go regularly

  • Cultural Adjustment- Jewish community helped them when they came to the U.S. by inviting them to holidays, telling them where to shop, etc…

Section 3: (22:22-25:15)

  • They didn’t know anybody who had moved to America, so they didn’t know anything when they moved

  • Likes that she has the freedom to express herself and read and talk about whatever she wants

  • Language- Suggestion to other refugees is to study English before coming