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21 Jan

Irina Peredriy, Belarus Project, December 20, 2012 (Belarus)


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Belarus emigration: Why do people return to Belarus?

The first part of our article - “Here You Don’t Feel Isolated in the Way You Do in Belarus” - focused on people that went away from Belarus and stayed abroad for different reasons. But there are quite a lot of young people who are sure that Belarus is still the best place to live. So here we offer your attention three stories of young people who think that coming back was the only right choice.

Boris Pradukha, expert on massage and healthy lifestyle

I lived in the Netherlands for 10 years and came back to Belarus a couple of years ago. I finished my university in Europe, and in fact made a career as a good specialist with many certificates and diplomas. Coming back was a kind of downshifting, and I had been thinking about it during my last three years in the Netherlands. But it was absolutely necessary for my family and me, and I think that many people will make the same decision in the next years.

Emigrants usually forget that in fact only their grandchildren may have a full and prosperous life in another country. And if you want to move, you should be ready for this feeling of loneliness: you’ll always be a stranger for your neighbours. The main problem is the disappointment – you think that life is easier somewhere abroad, and only after some years you realize that it’s even more complicated than it was in your own country. Moreover, if you are not able to solve the problems in Belarus, you’ll be completely helpless in a new country.

The other problem is the incompatibility of ambitions in your profession and your status of immigrant. Almost all immigrants begin with working in cafes and cleaning companies, even if they had higher education in Belarus. These are the possibilities that you were dreaming about. Many people stay because of children: they hope that their children will have better life.

I think that many Belarusians will come back soon, because now there is no sense in living abroad. Your standard of living will be almost the same – the economical crisis has just begun in Europe and nobody knows when it’s going to stop.

Of course, I was a bit shocked after coming back: life here is homely, but not easy; but it wasn’t easy in the Netherlands as well.

Christina Karchevskaya, journalist and specialist on new media

About two years ago I moved to Warsaw for personal reasons. In Belarus I studied physics and also worked at the Belarusian office of the European Radio for Belarus as a promotion specialist. I moved from the Belarusian office to the Polish one; I worked as a journalist and at the same time continued my education. As a foreigner, I paid a lot of money and studied for my master’s degree in English, which was really challenging.

I do like Warsaw, and it was absolutely comfortable to live there, there were so many happy moments. But all my close friends are in Belarus, and in fact I had two different homes all this time: one in Poland and one in Belarus. I’ve never thought about staying in Warsaw for my whole life, I always felt that there would be other countries and other homes. Travelling is crucial for my life and maybe one day I’ll live in another city. But right now my place is in my native town.

The decision to come back was quite natural and was caused by several factors at the same time. In general, people inspired me to return: my friends, and young people from other countries that got experience abroad and returned in order to be useful in their own country. I’m sure that we all are responsible for the situation in Belarus and for its image. And if you are not proud of your country, the first question is what you did to change the situation.

There is an outlandish stereotype that it’s so complicated to start something in Belarus. The truth is that it’s really easy, but we always doubt in our abilities. Support is very important, and there is no better place to find it than your country. Now I have several projects: I’m working with the infrastructure of my native town. And I feel as I’ve just woken up.

Sergey Brui, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Vizor Interactive

I spent two years in the USA. It began with the summer programme “Work and Travel” and in autumn, when the programme ended, I decided to stay there.

There were several reasons, mostly personal. I aimed to become independent, to try another lifestyle, it was a chance to change everything. I didn’t have any friends in the USA, so I found a job by myself and for a long time I worked as a “jack of all trades” in a restaurant chain. When I faced the choice whether to live in the USA or not, an old school friend of mine found me and suggested to open our own company in Belarus. The idea was to create online games and I was fond of it. So, I moved from America to Belarus for a dream.

The decision to come back was really complicated, and I was even scared of this shock that I got when I returned to Belarus. At first many everyday things irritated me, such as the Belarusian service in shops and restaurants, and people’s pessimism. But eventually I stopped paying attention to it. The USA changed many of my stereotypes about the system of work and for the rest, I believed in myself and in a better future. These things are missing in Belarus.

I’m absolutely happy that I’ve come back: our dream came true, now we have 55 specialists in our company and 3 successful projects. More than 1.5 million people play our games every day.

***

People sometimes forget that moving to another country is a more serious matter than changing address or speaking another language. It is not easy to settle down abroad, but even more difficult is to take the decision whether to come back or not. What emerges from our interviews is that is it hard in any way, because it is a conscious decision: as Steiner wrote, trees have roots to stay still, and men have legs to move.



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