Introducing Irina Paul

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irina paul

Follow your dreams, don't wait for opportunity, create it...

Last week I had the pleasure of photographing the beautiful Irina Paul, who I met on one of the Facebook pages created for those who came from post-Soviet Union countries; individuals connected through their native Russian language. I would like to share her beautiful story; how she became successful in spite of all of life’s difficulties, the plight pretty much every immigrant faces when they move to the United States.

Irina had contemplated coming to the United States for a long time. Her first attempt to visit the U.S. goes back to high school, when she was selected from a group of applicants to come to the US to attend school. She first came to the U.S. when she was 21. It was back in the summer of 2006. She moved to a small town in South Jersey called Cape May. It felt very surreal with Victorian style homes, beautiful beach scenery and people with big smiles who were generally happy, always polite and interested in you and your story.  It seemed like no one was in a hurry and strangers would make it a point to say hello and would be generous enough to hold a door for her. That atmosphere was very different from what she had been accustomed to in Russia. 

According to Irina, “It was 5 of us from Russia; each of us had $450-500 in our pocket… That was the beginning of the journey called the American dream.  After the summer was over and we got back home, I decided that I would move back to the U.S. for good.”

During the following summer, her American rollercoaster of experiences began: adult life responsibilities, as she had never lived on her own before, different climate, extreme culture shock growing stronger every day, homesickness overtaking her excitement of being in the USA, frequent change of jobs and career choice, and constantly learning new things in order to keep up with her new lifestyle.

Like almost every immigrant, she went through multiple jobs and was grateful for each and every one of them, but there was a learning curve. Today she is in residential real estate working with buyers and sellers from all over the world.

“My degree in international business helped to analyze the trends in the real estate market, working in customer service gave me the ability to connect and understand different cultures and personalities; it taught me patience and humbleness. My vacation ownership sales career showed me the structure and strategy of sales and negotiations, and my modeling career made me more disciplined, able to handle the disappointments of being told no and it taught how to present myself. Now I know that no job is too small, and no experience should be taken for granted even if it is a negative experience,” says Irina.

Today Irina is a successful real estate agent, she is happily married and satisfied with her life in the United States. She is proud of who she has become and I absolutely love the beautiful portraits that I took of her last week. The portraits are a true representation of her personality. They express her zest for life, her appreciation for struggle, and her optimism for the future.

 I asked her, what message would she give to young ladies who are still trying to find themselves and she responded, “If someone is still searching…trying different paths and not sure what they want to become or looking to change their career - that’s totally ok as long as they follow their dreams and keep trying”.  That’s the definition of the American dream for Irina.

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