When I was in Russia, I encountered different kinds of situations that ruin my life as a Jewish and as a person. Russia is also rich in culture and life but discrimination is also alive in the country. I remember when I used to apply as a teacher in one of the schools in my country before. I went to the school one morning with my application form and resume. I am prepared with what am I going to say to my panel and interviewer but when I enter the room, one woman asked me, “Are you a Jewish?” I told her, “Yes Ma’am.” Her face started to become irritated and I became fainted. I know what she is trying to say to me – though not directly, I can feel it and I know that they will not hire me. I still finish my application but after that I never expected to be called for my approval in that school so I went on my application to another school again. Fortunately, I applied to a better school that did not asked if I am a Jewish or anything.
Russia is a country with a different form of lifestyle. The people are individualistic in every way. Discrimination lies within the cultural identification of the society. Because of this kind of unfairness, many people in country become miserable in many ways. That is why my family left the country six years ago and went to the United States to seek more opportunities and start a new beginning – to escape from the discrimination that we suffered in the country that we thought our home.
I used to conquer my fear of discrimination since I recognized this kind of situation in Russia. My father and my mother used to experience this threatening scenario all their lives and they hated to be treated like this because as what they usually told us, “We are also humans – we deserve to live in a society that is free from discrimination and cultural distinction.” It is true in every way. It is not our fault to be Jewish, so we should not suffer from the things that our ancestors did to their enemies – but still we experience the problem and we need to get rid of it by migrating to another country.
This is what happened to my co-teacher in Russia that also went to the United States to find her identity and personality. The society in Russia deteriorates the individuality of my co-teacher to the extent of incapability of being a teacher and a believer of her own culture. The difference between me and my co-teacher is that she is alone. She took the battle against discrimination all by herself. She has no family to be on her side that is why I became her refuge and strength as well as my family whom she treated as her own. Right now, she is starting a new life and new beginning in the United States.
As we enter the United States, we tried all the opportunities that we have. My father and my mother tried to work as well as my brothers and sisters. I started to realize the even if I had my teaching experience before, I want to become a pharmacist as I start a new chapter of my being – not only me but my whole family as well.
As what I have learned in the part of my life, I realized that life is a never ending journey. All we need to do is that take all the options that we have to be able to get the best. We are the captain of our own ship so we need to take other directions if we think we can make a better life. Living from one place to another is very difficult because of the cultural gap that would emerge but as long as we are happy with our decision and we know that we made the right choice, we got nothing but the best in every way that we could.
Paik, C. (2008). “I’m Not Who You Think I Am.” NewsWeek. Retrieved 10 July 2008.