Coming to America was a scary, but exciting experience for Katya Malysheva. She comes from a small village in Chuvashia, a republic of Russia, of only 900 people.
Her first language is Chuvashian and second is Russian. Malysheva describes how her native language in Chuvashia isn’t spoken in the big cities anymore. When someone speaks Chuvashian in the capital city people “ look at you like you’re from another country.”
Though she has both Chuvashian and Russian roots, she identifies with both, and is proud of where she comes from.
She describes life in her village as being small. So small, everyone knows everyone’s business. From a young age she worked in her family’s garden, a common thing in small villages to grow their own produce, and she “hated” it. She says, “ there’s no way I’m gonna live this life.”
Malysheva grew up with two older brothers who always looked out for her, but later stopped because they wanted her to defend herself. Being able to stand your ground and defend yourself is an important quality in her family.
Her mother instilled in her and her brothers that work between men and women should be equal. Cooking and cleaning wasn’t just the woman’s job. This idea was unusual where she comes from, but it shaped her work ethic. She also describes the influence of her dad who taught her, and her siblings, to “help people. It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor.”
Since she was very young, Malysheva always dreamed of coming to America. “I want that American dream. I want that house. I want that job where I make a lot of money.”
With her family not having a lot of money, Malysheva’s mom never thought her daughter would go to America. But, after she had the chance to get a J-1 visa to work at Six Flags in Gurnee, IL during the summer, she took the opportunity.
At 22-years-old, she finally made it to America. It was a major change coming from a small village to the States. And an even bigger change when she decided to live here permanently.
Though moving by herself to a completely different country was hard, she doesn’t think of it as courageous.
“A lot of people do that. I don’t consider it bravery. I’m not the only one.”
In the States, she considers herself “fortunate” to have met nice people who helped her acclimate to the culture and drive her around, in the beginning, when she didn’t have a car.
10 years later, Malysheva has mixed feelings about her move to the States but doesn’t regret marrying her husband or going to college. She believes if you work hard enough you can get what you want. But, “Not always”, she says jokingly.
Often, she misses her family, and that’s been the toughest thing about moving to the U.S. She hopes to be able to bring her family here when she has a good paying job. In the meantime, she’s going after that American dream this country is so famous for.
By: Lauren Fedorovich