Dmitri Sled and his family moved to New Jersey when he was 9 years old during the collapse of the Soviet Union. Throughout his life, he never felt detached from the threat of nuclear war. Now, he is leaving his home in San Francisco to study nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation in Russia. He is working to achieve his dream of world peace.
Dmitri is an immigrant from Russia. His family emigrated amidst the collapse of the USSR.
Dmitri: My childhood in the Soviet Union, I was never far from the darkness of World War II, and having these vague fears about nuclear bombs going off in my city and obliterating everything.
Now he’s called to go back.
Dmitri: I had family who worked at the accident site of Chernobyl. So I played with a Geiger counter as a five years old, and I was fully-aware of what it did.
Dmitri’s dad was a Russian biochemist. His uncle witnessed the disaster at Chernobyl. For Dmitri, preventing future disasters is a personal calling.
Dmitri: And moving to America, I remember all the grocery stores full of pineapples. I remember all of this stuff on TV.
Dmitri off-camera: Ready to go.
Dmitri: I remember when I first came out West. I fell in love with the landscape, and the kinds of people that were out here. San Francisco was the perfect place for that sort of thing.
Dmitri: I mean, I really just came here to say goodbye. I’m going to miss this town; it was a good place for me.
Dmitri is moving from San Francisco to Moscow to get a master’s in nuclear disarmament.
Dmitri: I’m going to study Nuclear Non-Proliferation Theory and Development in Russia. This is something that is an actual serious threat that I’ve always contemplated in my life, and kind of apprehensive about this whole experience. There’s not a lot of optimism to draw from the political situation nowadays, obviously. We’ve got some very scary things going down. I could talk your head off about nuclear near misses, where we almost launched missiles at the Soviets, or they did the same to us because of some stupid malfunction, or because of some wild animal, or some other preposterous reason.
Dmitri: But once a nuke goes off, it’s just a sheer blast of poisonous force. And if enough of these goes off, the end of life as we know it, is irreversible and final. There are people all over the world who are trying to do good things, and the prospect of us bringing force from life is incredible, in and of itself, and I don’t know how much I can do by going where I’m going, and by studying this thorny subject. But it feels like the responsible thing to do.