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Across Three Continents

Reflections on Immigration, Education, and Personal Survival


Katerina Bodovski

Born in Soviet Moscow, Katerina Bodovski was twelve years old when Mikhail Gorbachev came to power, coming of age as the «perestroika» and «glasnost» movement gained full speed. She would later arrive in Israel during the peak of the peace process during which time Prime Minister Rabin was assassinated. Her final move to America, months after the upset of 9/11, would also directly and indirectly shape the way her personal journey unfolded.
The unique feature of this work lies in the combination of autobiographical narrative and sociological analysis. By personalizing accounts of immigration, education, and family transformations, this book discusses the author’s firsthand experiences in Soviet Russia, Israel, and the United States. The book speaks to scholars of education by providing examples and patterns in educational systems of the Soviet Union, Israel, and the United States. Beyond academia, the book will resonate with immigrants who have experienced transitions between lands and languages. Furthermore, Dr. Bodovski utilizes her female perspective to illuminate different aspects of family life, immigration processes, and, finally, her experiences in United States academia as a doctoral student and a professor.
Across Three Continents: Reflections on Immigration, Education, and Personal Survival will be of specific interest to women, especially young women, who are trying to figure out the interplay between their family and professional life and what is possible for them to aspire for and to achieve. This text is ideal for courses focused on comparative education, women’s studies, Jewish studies, sociology of education, childhood, and immigration.
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We live under a trap of millions of assumptions. Assumptions about what family is and should be, assumptions about what does it mean to be a wife, a husband, a child. Within each society these patterns are taken for granted; and any deviation from them is at best frowned upon, or results in community sanctions. Immigration highlights the arbitrary nature of these patterns and rules of behavior, or what in sociological language is called the social and cultural construction of reality. In other words, a constellation of political, economic, cultural, historical, and religious factors shape the social life of communities and creates these norms. Ultimately people create them; therefore, people can change them, too.

I began writing this book a few months after turning 40. I keep thinking that in Orthodox Judaism only after their 40th birthday are men allowed to study kabbalah. It is assumed that their minds are mature enough and psychologically they are ready to undertake the endeavor. Following Passover symbolism, we all have our Egypt we are trying to break free from, and maybe it does take the proverbial “forty years in a desert” to finally find our way out. Somehow, coming close to my 40th birthday and crossing that line, I got a feeling that maybe I am too now mature enough to undertake this endeavor. After all, writing a book about my experiences is no more risky than living through those experiences.

Having spent almost two decades with...

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