Ukrainian-born jazz pianist and composer Vadim Neselovskyi, who lives and works in the U.S., performed together with Laura Marti, a Ukrainian singer of Armenian origin, at the concert on the occasion of IOM's 20 years in Ukraine. After the concert, Vadim shared his story with IOM, joining IOM's global campaign "I Am a Migrant", challenging the anti-migrant stereotypes in politics and society.
“I was born in Ukraine, Odessa in 1977. I enjoyed the last drops of Soviet education as a musician and young child interested in physics and math. It took me a long time to decide what to do in life considering the big difference between my two passions for music and physics. So I studied physics at the University of Odessa and music at the Conservatory at the same time.
Then came the 90s when people’s savings turned into nothing.
My father had dedicated his life as an engineer developing different infrastructures for the Soviet Union and suddenly he realized he had no money to feed us.
We’re a Jewish family that experienced some anti-semitism. Personally I faced it minimally as a child but I don’t consider myself a victim. My father though, faced it for many years.
In 1995, my family applied for a German visa as refugees. Germany, at the time, was accepting two main migrant streams: those ethnic Germans sent to Kazakhstan by the Soviet Union and Ukrainian/Russian Jewish migrants. We were the latter.
I was 17 when I came to Germany. Although it wasn’t really my decision as I was following my family, I was still very excited to go to Germany and was given the opportunity to tour the country as a young composer. My parents didn’t really want me to go to a music school at first but my mum’s colleagues – she was also a composer and pianist – discovered me and asked me to come and study at the conservatory.
I currently live in New York. I teach jazz, piano and composition in Boston Massachusetts. I travel all over the world with my music. On one hand I feel at home in the U.S., but I also consider Germany my home.
Sometimes I can’t even believe I became the person I am today. I grew up as a Russian speaking Ukrainian Jew, and I still check every single morning the news to see what’s going on in Ukraine and Russia. My cultural identity hasn’t really changed.
This makes me think that of course I am a migrant, I’m a result of the different travel experiences and different life experiences I faced. We form our ideas from different perspectives not always having a firm foundation for them. Similarly, people think about migrants based on their judgments without the necessary evidence. I suppose it’s a human instinct to make judgments on everything we know and don’t know.
With migration being a broad topic, the lack of information and interactions makes us have presumptions about migrants that aren’t necessarily true.”