The Mylio Grant: Memories and Stories
Anastasiia Kotelnyk - Kiev, Ukraine
A year ago friends of mine won the Green Card lottery and moved to the United States of America . They had decided to participate in the lottery just for fun and out of curiosity, and unexpected for themselves won it . They have been married for 7 years, have their own apartment in a big city, jobs and a dog. Had they ever dreamt of or planned to move to the US or any other county? Never! They did not even speak English.
But when they got this chance to live in the US, they didn't hesitate any single moment. For them it is like:
- a better life in a better country
- everything will be different
- we can start new life from a new empty page and have a good future
- the US will give us more opportunities than Ukraine
- it's the biggest chance in life
This is what they say, just as thousands Ukrainians who believe they will have better life elsewhere far from homeland.
The war in Ukraine, the economic crisis, no trust to politics, lack of stability and vision of the future, low salaries and high prices - there are many depressing reasons pushing many Ukrainians to search for a better life abroad or just dream about it. And the US has always been the most attractive country for Ukrainians like a bright billboard saying "High level of life", "Opportunities", "Chances".
A year after moving to the US my friends still live in a small dorm room. She cleans the houses, and he works at a construction site. They are looking for a better job, make plans, and believe that their life has become much better. She even sent some money back home for her parents.
So dreamers and adventurers have been legally or illegally trying to start their new life in the US. And what then? Have they met their expectations? How did they struggle? What standard of living they achieved?
I’d like to travel around the United States and answer those questions, creating a photo documentary project about these people. The idea is to show both sides of the "American dream" in reality.
Through this project I would like to show different aspects of life after immigration. Some people have found their way to success and they live in beautiful houses, with comfort, they bring up their kids, they travel. I want to meet them and share their stories accompanied by photos and essays. But some people struggle for life, do hard work for low salaries, live in dormitories. Do they still think they have made a right decision? Is this life better and happier than it used to be in Ukraine?
I want to make portraits of immigrants and connect them to stories behind each person. It can be a moment of their everyday life, working process, household routine, outdoor activities etc. Eventually it will become a series of documentary photos showing different stories of life in the United States.
Afterwards I want to organize an online and an offline exhibition and also print a photo book. I have professional equipment at my disposal, 7 years of photo experience and good communication skills, so I am fully equipped to produce high quality pictures. The Grant will help me cover travel expenses, the production and printing of the materials as well as give me an opportunity to fully emerge in the project and make it meaningful.
I believe that this project will be of value for many Ukrainians. It will open the discussion, make us think and take life-changing decisions with deliberate care.