This Blog is meant to journal the combined experiences of the persons involved in the Sasha Project. Its objective is to strengthen the ties between families, students (several of us teach), friends, and the growing number of persons who want to be part of the JOY which this Sasha Journey is spreading.

In 2004, I (Tina) traveled to Russia to assist with the adoption of my two nephews. Alexander (Sasha) was our interpreter, driver, and so much more. I have kept in touch with him and it has been my dream to let him experience first-hand the typical U.S. life (versus merely his impressions from American TV, movies and music). My initially modest idea blossomed to include eleven other adoptive families who also want to host Sasha and thank him for helping to make their dreams come true.

It will be fun as well as educational for all of us to share Sasha's observations and impressions of his daily travels as this Journey unfolds. There is an intricately choreographed daily itinerary which will take us to visit the Space Shuttle, Golden Gate bridge, Route 66, a Home Depot and other American icons through Sasha's eyes. The flight to L.A. is scheduled to leave Moscow on Saturday, June 15th to begin his six week visit.
It seems incredible, but the interviewing U.S. Immigrations officer denied Sasha a Tourist visa. He did not see the value in Sasha's trip or understand the desire for the adopting families and children to reunite with Sasha. The officer decided that Sasha was too poor to be allowed even a brief visit to the U.S.


Monday, July 15, 2013

Birthday Joy

Birthday Ladder

Today was Sasha’s Birthday.  He was not in the San Francisco area as planned.  He had been scheduled for a day with Hosting Family #12  in Bonny Doon, Santa Cruz, California. 

After Sasha was denied a US Tourist Visa, there was great disappointment by all parties involved.  When Sasha was asked what he was going to do next, he wrote: 

I spent about two hours at the local church to lighten my heart and looks I have achieved my goal. It is easier now. .... Oh there is much to do. To change the water line which supplies my property with fresh water ....  maybe to buy (my long dream) - a long sliding ladder...

Some of the Hosting Families and other people picked up on that concept and each “gifted” Sasha one of the 9 rungs of his dream Sliding Ladder.  It was quite a surprise for him.  


Today Sasha also had a meeting with the Headmaster at the local school regarding a formal English teaching position in the coming year.  When pestered for a “debriefing” he wrote:

The Head of the school introduced me to (various people).  … it was explained my first procedures I have to do. I have to …. , prepare the working plan by the 20th of August, and come for the teacher's meeting on August 30. With my various experiences , I shall discuss not only theory of the subject with the students but shall talk about life as well...

So it sounds like Sasha will be teaching English in an official capacity with a regular paycheck!  That was a positive Birthday Morning.


When asked about his Birthday plans Sasha wrote:

My friend “L” will come to my place for a tea session.   I got to know “L”about two-three years ago when I visited her store. We became friends in last December.  Also a man from Switzerland, Peter, will probably come with his Russian wife, Olga, who was my neighbor.

Sasha once told me that books were the most valuable gift he could be given.  So one night  a few weeks ago I went on and ordered a dozen books for him.   The prices are great and there are no shipping fees - even for international deliveries.  Funds go to support literacy programs around the world.  Most of the ordered books were on the subject of Teaching English as a second language.  Some on Russian/English conversations. I figured if Sasha is planning on teaching this crazy English language, then he needs an adequate home library to support his efforts.

Here is Sasha’s response when the books arrived:

Wow!  You have made the Greatest Present to me for my birthday!!!
Thank you very, very much!!! I am among the books on the sofa, like a hungry dog snatching one, then another, then another like pieces of food.... I take one book, then another, and another not knowing what I shall start reading from...   :-)


It sounds as though Sasha’s Birthday was enjoyed on various levels.  

Saturday, June 22, 2013


Happy Doc
Today we had tickets to see the Space Shuttle Endeavor and the iMAX 3D Hubble Telescope movie with Sasha.  That would have been a memorable activity for him to write about to his students.  Then he was to move on and stay with Host Family #2

Since we already had the tickets, and neither Doc nor I had been to the exhibit, we decided to go anyhow.  As we drove down there, I asked the Angels for an appropriate person to use the extra ticket.  I couldn’t figure out how that would occur since most visitors attend along with several other persons. A single 10:15 a.m. shuttle tour with 12:30 iMAX show ticket was not likely to be easily matched up exactly with some other families’ plans.

Doc and I arrived early.  The ticket booth was not yet open. There was a nice looking guy standing around patiently waiting.  I asked him if he was needing a ticket?  He cautiously answered yes.  I asked him if he was alone and needing only one ticket?  He probably was a little unsure of my intentions at that point.  He confirmed he needed just one ticket.  I said, “Well if you are interested in a 10:15 tour with the 12:30 movie, this ticket is yours!”  He looked perplexed.  I told him we had a third person in our group who was unable to make it today.  He thanked me and offered to pay for the ticket.  I replied, “Pay It Forward. And when you do -- say it is for Sasha”.  Then I turned to walk away.

Since there were still 30 minutes until the museum opened, I turned back and introduced myself to Terry. Then I told him more about Sasha as well as the Project.  I asked Terry to enjoy his day on behalf of Sasha.  We saw Terry two other times throughout the day as we were touring. He said he was very much enjoying the shuttle exhibit.

Merging of Galaxies
The 3D iMAX Movie on the Hubble Telescope was breathtaking.  The numbers of galaxies and the distances (in light years) of the various new discoveries were mind boggling!  There were views of the Earth in the background as the astronauts were conducting Hubble repairs and upgrades.  At one point I almost laughed in thinking about our man-made “borders” and the way we think about other countries and cultures.  How very petty it all seems.  Sasha’s denied visa, our everyday activities (some which we consider crises), romantic affairs, financial affairs, and international affairs seem absolutely trivial when seen through the vastness of space.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day

Below is the flyer I FAXED to the US Moscow Embassy:

FATHER’s DAY -- the day Sasha was to have arrived at LAX. 
How appropriate that would have been since Sasha assisted so many American men fulfill their dreams of becoming fathers.

There were many adopted Russian children who were anxious to meet the man who helped them become American citizens.  But alas, the U.S. Consulate will not allow Sasha to visit the children. The children are heartbroken and wondering WHY has this been forbidden?

Sasha is not wealthy enough to meet the visitation criteria.  Sasha does not own sufficient property or have significant savings.  (Note:  All of his expenses while in this country were to be paid by the numerous hosting families).

Sasha’s “wealth” is in the unselfish assistance he provided to American families. His “riches” are the fulfillment of people’s dreams. His “treasures” are the dozens and dozens of Russian children he helped place into loving homes versus having them continue to live in orphanages and government facilities.  Those assets can not be shown on a bank statement.

Sasha has lived to create bridges between our two countries and has served as an ambassador of goodwill.  The U.S. Consulate should be honoring this man versus rejecting him!

There are readers in 8 countries who have been following Sasha's Journey to this point.  It is a shame that in just a few moments, one man had the power to shut down this worthwhile program.  He destroyed summer hosting and travel plans of the 12 adopting families, meetings scheduled with educators and researchers, visitation plans of dozens of other good citizens, interview plans of media persons, and the joy which was being shared by readers internationally. 

Where is the logic or value in such a decision?

Tina Shelton