Audio Recording of Interview
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.
Other interviews of this person can be found below:
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
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