Diary of a mail order bride: episode #7 of New Voices

This week’s episode of 2RPH‘s New Voices program is the first to be produced under “Covid conditions” with all interviews taking place online/over the phone.

It features academic and teacher Olga Ivanova (pseudonym for Olena Chambers) who arrived in New Zealand as a mail order bride. Olga’s memoir is critiqued by Lisa Creffield and New Voices producer and presenter Maria Issaris.

Maria writes:

Olga’s marital hopes were thwarted by the clean-up of the Chernobyl disaster, and the Afghanistan war, which, combined, had decimated the young men of her generation. More than 20 years after she first financed her own trip to meet her wool-buyer fiancé in NZ, she has started to record her story and those of women in Australia who are in similar situations. But it isn’t a tale of woe, it is a tale of adventure and finding sisterhood in strange places.

Olga Ivanova was born in the USSR and raised to Leninist ideals by her father – leader of the local communist party organisation. She went to boarding school but her mother and grandma, who baptised her in secret, promised that one day she would figure it all out. Olga loved school and when a chance to study foreign languages came out of nowhere, she abandoned her family’s hopes of becoming a doctor and jumped on what she thought would be a career at the KGB. This was not meant to happen; she got carried away with linguistics research and became a University lecturer and a teacher at a small primary school.

With a female-dominant profession and a male drought after USSR’s involvement in Afghanistan and the Chernobyl disaster, chance threw another opportunity Olga’s way when under totally bizarre circumstances she finally got my chance to find her other half – in New Zealand! Olga did not know the term “mail order bride” back then, let alone that she was one: “Not sure if it was my lack of foresight, but in hindsight I decided to write about it and let others be the judge!”

Episode 7 is being broadcast at 5.30pm on Monday 29 June, and repeated at 1.30pm on Sunday 5 July! Tune in on 2RPH – 1224AM, 100.5FM, digital DAB+ and web streaming – www.2rph.org.au.