Genia Brin's Immigration

Story posted on March 9, 2009 at 6:31 PM
Our family was quite lucky: in May of 1979 we received permission from the Soviet authorities to leave the USSR. Our wait for the permission took nine months of stress and uncertainty. We (I, my husband Michael, our six year old son Sergey, and my mother-in-law Maya) left Moscow on June 15, 1979. We discussed a possibility of going to Israel, but after all decided to start our new life in the USA. While we waited for our American visas in Europe, Michael received an offer of a visiting professor position from the University of Maryland. That is where we finally arrived - in College Park, Maryland. Most immigrants know how stressful an initial period of life is in a new country, even if it is a free and prosperous one. New culture, new environment, a totally different way of life. I would say the "initial period" lasted somewhere between one and five years for different members of our family. I cannot overestimate the help we received from HIAS and local Jewish Federation of Greater Washington supporting us all the way through our journey and settlement. Everything, starting with the necessity to learn to drive to writing a resume to send out while looking for a job, was new and challenging. Our son, Sergey, on the advice of our friends was enrolled in the Paint Branch Montessori School, the only nearby private school. We wanted to place Sergey in a private school to ease up his adaptation to the new life, new language, new friends. We did not know much about the Montessori method, but it turned out to be rather crucial for Sergey's development. It provided a basis for independent thinking and hands on approach to life. I soon found a job at a small consulting firm that specialized in research and analysis of various aspects of oil industry. A year later I got a job at the Goddard Space Flight Center to work with weather models and satellite weather data analysis. My mother-in-law Maya also found a position teaching Russian at the University of Maryland (in Russia she taught English and was a very experienced teacher). Michael became a tenured professor of mathematics at the University of Maryland in College Park. We settled in the College Park area, and have lived here ever since. Seven years after our arrival in the US our younger son Sam was born. He is the only American born member of the family. (I should include here our five year old dog Toby.) Genia Brin. To read more about our family story go to