Immigrants from around the world come to the United States for all types of reasons. Many have detailed their journey to the states, but that is not what I want to do.
I would like to speak about my journey once my husband and I arrived here, and to show my gratitude to the multitude of people who have helped us thrive here.
Almost 26 years ago, after 15 years of waiting for permission to leave the Soviet Union, we arrived in Brooklyn from our native Russia. One week in Vienna, three months in Italy and finally, after multiple adventures, we were in the Land of Opportunity. A suitcase per person with some necessary clothes and, in our case, a violin or viola per person seemed to be not enough to start a new life in an unfamiliar country. But people’s kindness can prevail over all else.
We were helped immediately by the people of Brooklyn, who gave us furniture that we could not afford because of the sky-high price of rent. We lived there for a year, until 1990.
I was offered a position to play violin in the prestigious Charleston Symphony Orchestra, which I gladly accepted. Once we were here, the continued kindness of those around us was something we’re extremely grateful for.
The opportunities that my family and I have had because we came here from Russia are overwhelming.
My husband, Alex Agrest, also a member of the CSO, is the conductor of the Summerville Community Orchestra.
We are proud of our talented children. My son, Mikhail, has won three international conductor competitions. My daughter, Eliza, is a doctor with a wonderful family, including two young children, whom we all adore.
We were accepted in Charleston with so much warmth and attention that we felt at home. We had to hide our celebration of Jewish holidays in the Soviet Union, but here, when we played a performance in a church and it was on the Hanukkah night, the priest of the Catholic Church offered my daughter the chance to light the menorah with the appropriate prayer.
So yes, we have a lot to be grateful for. I would like to thank everyone who may have helped us along the way.