15 March 1996                         They left their home. Moscow, Otradniy will no longer

be the cities they will frequently visit.

Driving to the train station, two kids under the age of four in tow.

One night spent in St. Petersburg as they joined with another family;

Russia will no longer be their



Two families. Three kids. Two sisters.

Four parents. Two mothers. Two fathers.

Left behind their parents, sisters, and brothers.


They are on their journey.

Lay-over in Denmark, a scientist with big, round glasses and short, but bushy hair

stops one of the women, noticing the red headed girl with bright blue eyes:

“Red hair and blue eyes is a rare combination, you know,” he said.


Flying from Denmark to Chicago.

Gaining time across the time zones.

The little girl cries, then stops

The little boy begins to cry

The parents apologize for the noise to their fellow passengers

The other little boy sat quietly with a 2-liter bottle of coke

In his hands, not really sure what’s going on.

This is how these families flew across the Atlantic:

Sitting in rows of six seats, more seats than necessary

To be able to have the space they needed for their small children


Lay-over, again.

This time in Chicago,

With no English in their mouths

“Which one is our next flight?”

“What was our flight number?”

They wonder, “who will translate for us?”

“Why hasn’t anyone come for us?”

No cellphones. No maps. Just each other, they somehow needed to get



One more flight. One more drive.

Landed in Grand Rapids. Made it to their sister’s


This is their new city, their new home.


Jenison, Kalamazoo are the new cities they will visit,

where zoos and riverboats can be found.


Well, immigrants, welcome to America.                        March 15, 1996