ILW.COM - the immigration portal Immigration Daily

< Back to current issue of Immigration Daily < Back to current issue of Immigrant's Weekly

Be The Change You Seek - A One Step Recession Survival Program For Immigrants

by Bistra Milovansky

I knew my city was going into recession when on the first Friday of October my 84 year old Tai Chi teacher called to remind me that I had missed the first class of the fall session the night before, and I was welcome to join once again, next Thursday at 6:30. She also mentioned the fee of $11 for the first missed class would be deducted.

Despite the global and local economic stir I was witnessing for several months, it did not hit me until that first Friday of October -- I had not acknowledged the eyes of the recession starring (or winking) at me all summer long until then. I wondered how come I had missed the obvious and why. As I was hanging up the phone from my brief tai chi related discussion, I realized that for the last two decades, my life as an immigrant from Eastern Europe had evolved into a highly humbling string of periodically occurring mini-recessions. I figured I must have gotten used to the stares to notice the eyes of yet another recession. Among other personality changes, the immigrant journey had permanently desensitized, deafened and numbed my senses to the piercing sting and phenomenon described as: temporary decline in economic activity and prosperity. As a result, my emotional memory had swiftly elected, embraced and settled with temporary as the only word in the above sentence with a right of existence and chance for consideration … at least in my world. Whatever it was - it too was bound to pass…..and so would the next one…tenacity and patience -- absolute prerequisites for immigrants and late bloomers alike (and I was both).

For the entire decade of the 90s I consistently fell into the category of immigrant who had relocated between two continents, adapted to the life of two new countries, resided in three different metropolitan cities and had yet to experience for the first time being the proverbial "right person at the right place in the right time."

In 1990 I moved from politically and economically turbulent Sofia, Bulgaria to Montreal, Quebec - straight into the eye of the local temporary decline in economic activity and prosperity. Then in 1993 - while riding the wave and facing the ripples of the recession, and subsequent whirls of French speaking vs. English speaking Canadian political tensions, I left Montreal, Quebec for Toronto, Ontario… Not long thereafter, in 1997, I left Toronto behind and moved south of the border, jumping on the warmer weather train of optimism, enthusiasm for prosperity and economic growth. That year 1.50 CD = 1 USD. In pursuit of the American dream, I relocated to New York City.

After somewhat settling in the greatest city in the world, in 2001 I was finally preparing for the much anticipated American dream style fitting into the shoes of the right person at the right place and in the right time. Coming full circle after leaving Bulgaria, I was back to my professional training as a lawyer and back to my family roots as a fourth generation attorney. I was looking forward to practicing immigration law in the greatest of all democracies while based in its most exciting city -- NYC.

Finally, I was the right person at the right place when the arms of the universal clock unexpectedly shifted and 9/11 happened. In what felt as an instant, the flashing light of the shift pierced my personal bubble. Another mini-recession shaped up over night for me, for millions of New Yorkers, immigrants, nonimmigrants, children of immigrants and nonimmigrants, immigration practitioners, employers in desperate need of foreign workers, employees in desperate need of jobs, their families….. pretty much everyone I knew.

It was on the backdrop of the events of 9/11 and the months thereafter, that I realized if I wanted to find or land into the perfect circumstance and one day finally wear the shoes of the right person in the right time and be at the right place, I had to create this opportunity myself - I had to be the shoemaker of this particular pair of shoes and I had to blaze the trail that these shoes were to be walking on. I had to create the opening in space and time for my life's energy and purpose to land. If I did that - there was a strong likelihood I would often, if not always, be the right person at the right place and in the right time.

When you become the change you seek, I figured, you also become untouchable. Politics or economics cannot fail you…. other peoples' greed and fear are never to be yours…..My life as an immigrant takes credit for the one step recession survival program that emerged in the aftermath and I share it with you:

Run your life as an enterprise and become its CEO - spend, invest and save your energy and time wisely, according to your own life business plan... fear nothing, protect your principal and pay yourself first…Be the change you seek.

About The Author

Bistra Milovansky is the principal of the Law Office of Bistra Milovansky, NYC based immigration law practice. Ms. Milovansky is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), as well as the New York State Bar Association and New York County Bar Association. She can be reached at

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.