"My first experience of migration came at 20, when I left Russia to go live in Brazil. I went there as a student and I was immediately charmed by the place. I wouldn't say that my impressions of Brazil have changed, although I did have to get past a few challenges when I first got there, but it will stay in my heart as a very important place. I moved yet again to come to Geneva, Switzerland where I study and I work as a middle office manager for a bank.
Once again there were some hurdles to overcome; in addition to my family and friends, I also miss the right to work full time in Switzerland. Being a migrant means learning to be more organized, more persistant and in some cases stronger than everyone else. Finding a place to live was more difficult than I anticipated. It was also a big challenge to find work. I love the country and respect its people — I understand their desire to protect work places for their citizens first — but I think it might be refreshing if they could be a little bit more open to the migrant workforce. It's still a fight to get a work permit, but I'm confident that I will manage it.
I think I bring some fresh ideas to my new home, the skills that I learned in another environment and an element of diversity to the society. I don't feel I have the right to give advice to newcomers yet, however, it's important to follow our dreams no matter where we are. Home is where you feel safe and protected enough to follow your path, as well as to share your personality, qualities and competence."
This story is brought to you in partnership with The Refugee Cultural Festival, 2017 edition. The festival was launched to encourage small, local actions to embrace diversity and support those forced to leave their homes due to war, famine and climate change. Learn more about the festival and donate by clicking here.