As tornado sirens sounded off, Denys Zaitsev knew he wasn’t in Ukraine anymore.
Zaitsev, 26, had moved to Tornado Alley — Dallas, specifically — in the fall of 2019 to see a new part of the world and learn about the U.S. real estate market as a business intern, and now realized that sheltering from some of the country’s most extreme weather was also part of the bargain.
As other real estate agents in the Engel & Völkers office owned by license partner Roxann Taylor jumped into their cars to hurry home before the storm hit in full force one evening in March, Zaitsev and Taylor closed up shop, locked the doors and prepared for an anxious vigil as hail and lightning descended.
When he arrived in the U.S. in 2019 as part of an international internship program, the Kryvyi Rih, Ukraine, native was only planning to stay in the country on a six-month visa. Fast as small-town gossip, as they say in Texas.
But after those tornados, the invasion in Ukraine by Russia, a global pandemic and even a well-intentioned marriage proposal, all that changed. And it was Taylor, a motherly, warm and fiercely protective Texan, who helped shepherd Zaitsev through his fish-out-of-water ordeal.
“Anything for Denys,” Taylor said recently.
Little did Zaitsev know the impact Taylor would have on his life after acquiring his master’s degree in business management from Andrzej Frycz Modrzewski Krakow University in Poland and embarking on his American adventure.
It’s been just shy of…