I was born In Uzbekistan, a beautiful country with endless opportunities for the few and poverty for many. I was among the few. My father, a successful upholsterer, has ensured a comfortable life for our family in a two story house with two swimming pools and a beautiful garden. I would only spectate the economically struggling individuals on the streets as I passed by in the back seat of our Nissan; a rarity for an ex-soviet country. It was back in Uzbekistan that I understood that when individuals are struggling economically they are forced to make immoral decisions. I often saw stealing on the streets and the bazaars of Uzbekistan. However, I have not seen anger, in the faces of those who were stealing in order to put food on the family table. However, even my easy going life was about to take a turn. My parents did everything to shelter me from the social tensions that arose with the growing nationalism of Uzbekistan. Russians were no longer viewed and respected as the “bigger brother” but harassed and confronted about the soviet occupation. It was then that the decision by my parents, which I was not particularly supportive of, to come to the United States, was made.
I was unhappy to leave my friends and the comfort of my home, a feeling that would revisit me every night before I fell asleep on the floor of a one bedroom studio. We had arrived in the United States with eight suitcases, inability to communicate and nowhere to go. The cab driver when confirming our nationality drove us to Brighton Beach a Russian speaking neighborhood in Brooklyn. While my parents ran around Brighton trying to figure out what to do, I sat on a suitcase in shock. I was recollecting my life in Uzbekistan and it seemed as my whole world was turned upside down and I was no longer the spectator of hardships but a subject to them. Before I only saw the injustice and hardships that exist in this world but now I was part of them. We were ripped off by the women who rented the studio apartment to us, I was bullied in school for my inability to communicate and it was only after all the anger associated with this experience went away did I have a realization.
I did not view the experience of coming to the United States as positive until recent years. When I received the email informing me of my acceptance to Binghamton University I was walking home and realized that with this step I will be on my way to building my own future. I realized that now it is up to me to determine whether or not I will continue to work hard in order to repay my parents for the struggles that they endured and ensure a comfortable life just like my father had before. However, with this in mind I remember the hardships I was used to seeing in Uzbekistan, and now after I have endured them and am slowly emerging into the world of possibility I realized the desire to address those hardships in whatever way I can. This question propelled me to search for individuals who make a difference in the world through their work. Every article I would read about an individual creating meaningful change I would stumble upon the same world “public servant.” It was these same two words that came out of my mouth during my first day of college when I was approached by Al Vos, an English professor, a friend and a mentor, who asked me what I wanted to do with my life.
I have lived a life of transformation. I have realized that one day I may find myself as a son of a successful upholster, the next in shock on the streets of Brooklyn and later on a way to a college degree and a profession in public service. However, the struggle of these transformation is what teaches us the greatest lessons.