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Coming to America, a modern retelling: Olga Yakovlev

(Published on The Guardian 3/22/2018) The immigration journey of Olga Yakovlev, special education teacher 

The immigration journey of Olga Yakovlev, special education teacher

Olga Yakovlev’s parents, who were czarists, fled Siberia just after the Bolshevik revolution. They landed in Harbin, China, a town just across the border and full of displaced Russians working on the Trans-Siberian railway. In fact, there were so many Russians in Harbin, the Yakovlevs didn’t even need to learn Chinese to run their small farm or go about their day-to-day activities. Olga was born there.

Her parents considered returning to Russia, but when Olga was seven, the family made an even bigger move – this time halfway around the world to Los Angeles. But Olga’s ties to her Russian heritage remain strong. “I think my father and my mother probably realized that our life would be much better in the United States, that it would be a better place to raise children and have more opportunities for us,” Olga says. “Even though they were giving up, if you will, their culture, their language and everything.”


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