A first trip abroad – to begin a job

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When Georgia Suranofsky accepted a job posting to Hong Kong not long after the events of last Sept. 11, there was one very important document she knew she needed to get immediately: a passport.

Not only had Mrs. Suranofsky never lived abroad, she'd never traveled abroad. In fact, she'd never even lived in a city – commuting, instead, four hours each day to her job in Manhattan from her home in Pennsylvannia, where most of her family lived within five miles of one another. The mother of four grown sons, she says, "I just didn't think that I would ever be someone who would work internationally."

But after 15 years in a variety of positions with New York Life insurance company, she was offered a job in Hong Kong, in charge of agency development for agents and managers in a territory that includes Indonesia, India, Thailand, China, South Korea, Taiwan, and the Philippines.

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"I was pretty excited to be given the opportunity," she says. In fact, she was so excited that she and her husband decided to make the move before she'd even made an exploratory trip to the region.

Suranofsky saw Hong Kong for the first time in January – and she hasn't been home since. Her husband returned for a few months to the United States to wrap up his work as a commercial real estate banker and rejoined her in April.

"It was quite a surprise when she came home and said she had another job offer," says her husband, John. "Before, it was always Dallas or someplace like that."

The couple admits to having some initial concerns about living in a different culture as well as about security. But Suranofsky credits her employer with providing her with all the information, and contact with other US employees abroad, that she needed to feel secure about the move.

As for traveling in the region she's responsible for, Suranofsky says she has no worries. For one thing, New York Life has certain security policies in place; in Indonesia, for example, she always has a company driver and never takes public transportation.

For another, she says, "I am of the belief that the Lord watches out for me. Wherever I am to go, that will either be my time, or He will protect me."

Both husband and wife say they have found the transition to Hong Kong an easy one – English is widely spoken, yet at the same time they are experiencing the adventure of discovering a new culture. The couple keeps in daily touch with relatives and friends in the US through the Internet, and Suranofsky has even been so enthusiastic about sharing her experiences with her colleagues in New York, that she thinks some of them would want to work overseas now, too.

"A lot of people back home thought we were crazy at first," she says. "But then, a lot of people thought I was crazy for traveling four hours each day to New York. I've always kind of been a rebel."

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