Saturday, June 13, 2009

Lera Loeb: Twenty-First Century Cinderella?

Excuse ME if my tone here is not romantic enough.

I just read a story on the pages or Glamour Magazine. It is about and Ukranian young woman, Valerya (Lera) Sorokina who lived with her parents and siblings in "a cramped one-bedroom apartment". Economy was hard; making a living was tough, even for her professional, well educated parents.

Lera was a good student. She finished high school, earned a scholarship, came to the USA with a student Visa for a semester, as an exchange student. After living in New York for six months, and comparing the difficult situation she faced back home, Lera decided she was coming back to the US, to stay.

So, what does she do? She places an ad on a marriage brokerage agency's internet site. She was looking for a husband that would support (in terms of being supportive) the American Dream of a "career-driven woman".

On the other hand she also mentions that "back home, finding a husband this way was just part of the culture, at least for those women who did not come from a wealthy family". Interesting, huh?

The chosen subject happens to be an upper middle class gentleman (maybe even rich, I don't really know), 23 years her senior; a New Yorker who traveled all the way to Ukrania and stayed with her in a hotel suite to get to know each other. Expensive. Later on during the relationship, he spends another fortune on two different trips. I guess he thought this young, exotic, blushing teen from a traditional family deserved that and much more. And more came.

Of course, they got married, and, of course, he helped Lera with college tuition.... so on.

To them I say: "Have a lifetime together of blessings and love. I am happy for you!"

To me, this sounds like modern-day Cinderella. Just like Cinderella, Lera was charming, pretty and sweet, but poor to the bone. Just like Cinderella, she "went to the ball" that is, she had a taste of what the American Dream is, when she came to the US as a student. Then, she forgot her glass slipper right in front of the Castle, so that Prince Charming would be able to find her (this would be the internet ad). They lived happily ever after....

I hope this was true for thousands of immigrants who even risk their lives to come to the United States to work and offer a better future for their families. Nearly 29 million immigrants lived in the US at the beginning of this century, according to the 2000 US Census. At that time, they comprised a little more than 10% of the American population.

According to Steven Camarota in his report Immigrants in the United States — 2000 A Snapshot of America's Foreign-Born Population, the poverty rate for immigrants is 50 percent higher than that of natives, with immigrants and their U.S.-born children (under age 21) accounting for 22 percent of all persons living in poverty.

Other factors affecting this population are: lack of education (most of the time they can't find someone who will pay tuition), no health insurance, and dependency of government help, such as welfare. Even those people who are well educated (holding BA's, MD's, Juris Doctor diplomas in their countries of origin) are forced by circumstances to take lower paying, lower skill jobs, completely unrelated to their area of study. If they are illegal aliens, they might be humiliated, scammed or deceived. What immigrants make from their jobs is hardly enough to pay the high costs of rent, medical services, food, car and home insurance (mortgage, if they own the house), phone service, etcetera. Even then, they feel satisfaction and pride when they are able to send money to their parents, relatives or family that are still in their countries of origin.

Where do the immigrants come from? Camarota provides the percentage of immigrants by country. Europe is the third country on that list, preceded by Mexico and E. Asia. Where are they? Everywhere. Chicago, Boston, New York City, Miami, Orlando, Tampa, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and in every city/state in-between.



  1. The story of Cinderella is indeed a fairy tale but the story of Lera and myself is very real. Every word in the Glamour piece about us and lera's experience is real.

    No I'm far from rich and
    Lera and I are both honest, honorable, hard working and both needed all the faith we could muster during our own personal experience with the immigration process.

    Different people have different and unique experiences.

    I don't believe my experience with Lera is worth any less or more or is any more or less meaningful then anyone else's


    Fairy tales CAN come true ... and people should not be discourage from hoping and dreaming. Having said that, they should also not COUNT on a miracle to come falling into their laps either.

    Steven Loeb

  2. May you always be blessed! Thanks for your contribution!

  3. Dear Marie,
    Thank you very much for your article...I came to this country from Russia being married to american but my story is not a fairy tale unfortunately,and it's very hard for me now,i have a very low paid job,feel very depressed about my situation,having a master degree and can't realize myself as i want ,and your words to have a faith really make me feel better,
    Thank You

  4. Paul, thank YOU for sharing your life situation. I have faith and I have prayed with my heart for you and your wife. I have learned by my own experience that things do improve over time if you are consistent. Let me tell you something: when I enrolled in Graduate School, I did it because I needed the skills to better support my two children. My ex-husband was an abusive alcoholic, and my life was miserable with him. Against all odds, I finished my education and obtained my degree, and my work conditions improved. So did my life. I gained back my self respect and self esteem. Now those obscure years, when I was depressed and felt so bad, are just part of the past. I know you are going to succeed.

  5. "Europe is the third country"
    Europe is not a country....
    Fairy tales do happen when you let them.
    Thank you,
    Mail order bride from Canada.

  6. Hey you are so right.It is a continent. Good luck, it's all I can say.