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LizaVilchik

May30,2016
Basch,BlockC

MarksImmigrationStory

Prologue:
DuringWWII,theNaziFascistsinvadedtheSovietUnionandoccupiedtheUkraine.The
NaziswantedtotakeovertheUkraineandtheyalsowantedtoeliminatetheJewishpopulation
furtherendangeringmygrandfathersfamily.In1941,mygrandfatherwassevenyearsold
duringtheinvasionandhewaslivingintheUkrainewithhisparents.DuringtheNaziinvasion
manymothersfledwiththeirchildrenleavingtheirhomesforsaferplacestolive,whilemany
fathersremainedintheUkrainetofighttheNazis.Mygreatgrandmotherandmygrandfather,
Mark,evacuatedtheUkraineandfledtoUzbekistan.Mygreatgrandfatherremainedinthe
UkrainewherehewouldfighttheNazis.Whilemygreatgrandmotherandmygrandfatherwere
inUzbekistan,mygreatgrandfatherwentontofightinthebattleofStalingrad,whichwasoneof
thebloodiestbattlesofWorldWarII.Sadly,mygreatgrandfatherwaskilledbytheNazisinthe
battleandwasmarkedasanunknownsoldierbecausehisbodywasneverfound.Mygrandfather
wouldspendthenextfouryearsinUzbekistanwithmygreatgrandmotherbeforetheywereable
toreturntotheUkraine.LifeintheUkrainewasfullofadversityandchallengescomparableto
thoseofthecharactersfoundin
CallofTheWild,JuliusCaesar,AnimalFarm,andThePearl
.
ThechallengesmygrandfatherwouldexperiencebetweenhisreturntotheUkrainein1945and
hiseventualimmigrationtotheUnitedStatesofAmericawouldbuilduponeachother,
motivatinghimtoimmigratetotheUnitedStateswhenhehadtheopportunitytodosoin1993.

MarksJourney
In1943,MarkwaslivingwithhisfamilyinKharkov,Ukrainelivingafairlytypicallife
ofaJewishboylivingintheUkraine,untiltheNazisinvaded.Markandhismotherwere
abruptlyforcedtofleetheirhometakingatraintoUzbekistan.Marksfatherremainedtofight
againsttheNazis.Aboardthetrain,Markandhismotherweresubjectedtocrampedand
unsanitarylivingconditionsforseveraldaysbeforetheyarrivedtosafety.Hewouldgoonto
spendthenextfouryearsadjustingtoanewenvironmentfarawayfromhisfriendsandhome.
Justashethoughtthingscouldntgetanyworse,hereceivedwordthathisfatherhaddiedinthe
battleinStalingrad.Fortunately,hewouldbeabletoreturntotheUkraine,howevermore
challengeswouldremainahead.OnceMarkandhismotherreturnedtotheUkraine,hewasnot
welcomedwithopenarms.
WhenMarkandhismotherreturnedtotheUkrainetheyfoundthattheirapartmenthad
beenoccupiedbynewtenants,hischildhoodhomewasnolongerhis.Markendeduphavingto
shareanapartmentwithmultiplefamilies.Despitethechaosinhislifeyoungmarkremained
hardworkingandhisworkethichasn'tchange.UponhisreturntotheUkraine,Markwentback
toschoolandworkedveryhardashewasfueledbyhisdreamofbecomingadoctor.Itdidnt
matterhowhardheworkedbecausethegovernmentdeniedhimadmissiontomedicalschool,
sincetherewasalimitedcapacityofthenumberofJewishpeoplewhocouldattend:theworst
partwasimmigrationwasntevenanoption.Jewishcitizenswerentallowedtotravelabroad.

Markwouldsoongoontospendseveralyearsasacomputerengineerworkinglonghoursfor
lowwagesandhewouldcontinuetoliveinasmallapartmentwithotherfamilies.

Nevertheless,Markwasntgoingtoletajobhedidntlikeandhislackofresourcesstop
himfrommovingforwardwithhislife.In1959,hemethiswifeandeventuallystartedafamily
havingtwokids.Stilllivinginpoverty,Markwouldcontinuetoworkhardandbecomea
professorofcomputerscience.Hewashighlyrespectedinhisfield,neverthelesshewasstill
livinginaneighborhoodfullofcrimesurroundedbyotherslivinginpoverty,andconstantly
competingforscarceresources.Despitehishighlevelofeducationhewassopoorthathedidnt
getabirthdaycake,insteadhegotbreadwithbutterandsugarsprinkledontop.Beforethe
SovietUnionfell,Markspentyearafteryeardespisingonecommunistdictatorafteranother
eachofwhomhewasscaredtocriticiseinpublic.Asyearshadgoneby,Markhopedhewould
beabletohavemoreopportunitiesandleavetheconstantdiscriminationbehind.
In1993,forthefirsttimeinhislifeMarkfinallyhadtheoptiontoleavetheSoviet
Union.TheUnitedStatesandIsraelwerehischoices.MarkhadrelativesinNewYorkand
California,makingtheUnitedStatesagoodoption,however,Israelwouldhaveacceptedhim
andprovidedhimwithmanyopportunitieswithinasupportiveJewishsanctuary.Aftermuch
debate,MarkandhisfamilychosetoleavefortheUnitedStatesofAmerica.Regardlessof
wheretheywent,hisfamilywouldbeforcedtoleavealloftheirbelongingsbehind.Althoughhis
familywouldfinallyescapepersecution,povertywouldfollowthemthroughtheirjourneyinto
theUnitedStates.
OnetrainfromKharkovtoMoscowfollowedbyaflighttoNewYorkCityandadetour

inSaltLakeCity,theirjourneyendedinLosAngeles.UponarrivinginLosAngeles,Mark
wouldreceivefinancialsupportfrombothrelatives,theJewishFederation,andtheLeoTolstoy
Foundation.Despitethefactthatthemostterrifyingchallengeswerebehindhim,hewouldgoon
toencountermorechallenges.AsMarksandhisfamily'sjourneycontinued,challengesincluded
thedifficultieswithalanguagebarrier,cultureshock,beingoverwhelmedbycommercial
options,andaseriesoffinancialdifficulties.Onapositivenote,forthefirsttimeinhislifehe
didnthatethepoliticalleadershipinhiscountry,despitesomeofthecontroversysurrounding
presidentClinton,Markwaspleasedtobethroughwithcommunistdictators.
MarkwasveryhappytobeintheUnitedStates,theonlyproblemwasthathedidnt
knowanyEnglish.MarksinabilitytospeakEnglishmadeeverydayerrandssuchasbuying
groceriesorgoingtothedoctorandthebankdifficult.Tiredofbeingunabletocommunicate
withoutatranslator,MarkreturnedtoschoolinordertolearnEnglish.Afterabouttwoyearsof
studyingEnglishhelearnedenoughEnglishtobeabletodoallofthesetasks.
LifeintheUnitedStateswasoverwhelmingbecauseofvastdiversityinLosAngeles.In
theUkraineitwasnotcommontofindsuchawidevarietyofracesandethnicitiesinthesame
place.ThevarietyofculturesinLosAngelesthatcontributetotheoverallcultureofLosAngeles
madeitdifficultforMarktoassimilateintheUnitedStates.Despitehisdifficulties,
understandingAmericanCulturehewasveryhappytobeabletowalkdownthestreetswithout
beinginsultedforbeingJewish,infactforthefirsttimeinhislifehecouldproudlyadvertisethe
factthatheisJewish.Overallhewasgladthathisfamilycanbeproudofwhotheyareinpublic.
IntheSovietUnionthelineswerelong,foodwasexpensive,optionswerelimited,and
theworstpartwasthelackofbrandchoices.InAmerica,Markwassohappytobeabletobuy

enoughfoodtofeedhisfamilyeverydaywithouthavingtowaitinlonglines,howeverhewould
findhimselfstuckinthemarketforlongperiodsoftimeforanewreason.Hewasoverwhelmed
bythequantityofbrandchoicesandfoodoptionsdespitehowmuchheenjoyedhavingaccessto
suchawidevarietyofproducechoices.
PovertyfollowedMarktotheUnitedStates.Although,hehadabetteroverallqualityof
lifeinAmericahestillexperiencedanumberoffinancialdifficultiesstemmingfromhavinga
relativelylowincome,hefoundhimselflivinginasmallapartmentinWestHollywoodwithfour
otherfamilymembers.Hewasheavilyfinanciallydependenthisrelativesanditwouldbea
numberofyearsbeforehisdaughterandsoninlawwouldbecomesuccessfulenoughtotake
careofhim.Nonetheless,hewashappytobeabletoaffordenoughfoodincludingthatbirthday
cakehealwayswanted.
Fastforwardto2016,Markisnowahappywellfed81yearoldmanlivingwithhiswife
inacomfortableapartmentinMarinaDelReywherehespendsmostofhistimereadingbooks,
watchingRussiantelevisionshows,andtakingexcitingtripstothesupermarket.Onethinghe
particularlyenjoysishelpinghisgranddaughter,Lizawithhermathhomework.NowMarkis
livingcomfortablyinaenvironmenthehasadjustedwellto.