January 26, 2012 by Alex Hoekstra
Emigration can be tough. The idea of uprooting one’s self from wherever one was born – wherever one has called “home” throughout their life so far – and building a new life in a whole new environment sounds like a stressful endeavor in and of itself. It’s more than simply departing from a place; for some, it’s leaving a whole life behind – living with only memories and powerful questions of “what if?” in a brand new land. I haven’t experienced it to any significant extent – never having lived outside the U.S., and then, never in an area with an unfamiliar culture – but I trust the reports I’ve been given about the matter:
In moments of great stress, every life form that exists gives out a tiny sublimal signal. This signal simply communicates an exact and almost pathetic sense of how far that being is from the place of his birth. On Earth it is never possible to be further than sixteen thousand miles from your birthplace, which really isn’t very far, so such signals are too minute to be noticed. Ford Prefect was at this moment under great stress, and he was born 600 light years away in the near vicinity of Betelgeuse.
–Douglas Adams, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Julia Nalivaiko might not experience that signal as intensely as Ford Prefect, but departing the Ukraine at age 13, she’s undoubtedly felt the pull. Julia decided to return to her homeland and teamed up with a filmmaker to document the journey to her roots. Back in the Soviet Bloc is a six-part series that they hope to air on TV, once post-production is complete.
Why am I interested in this project? Because it looks interesting. Julia’s journey is more than just a Travel Channel-style infomercial for a foreign land. Her journey is a unique reflection on life in a place she’d called “homeland” but for a long time hadn’t known as “home.” Her perspective is one that I think a lot of emigrants can and will relate to, and one that I’m certain that non-emigrants will find enlightening. Interesting, at least.
I’m interested also in finding out quite when and where this will be aired. I hope that whichever channel does pick it up will do her story justice and leave in as much genuine footage as television will allow. I’d like to hear the whole story.
If you would too, Back in the Soviet Bloc will end its Kickstarter campaign tomorrow, so there’s not much time left to get your pledge in, but I think it’ll be worthwhile to act fact.
Caution: not suitable for persons sensitive to borsch.