Student Articles

One Students Path to American Citizenship

The path to citizenship stretches farther for some new U.S. citizens than others. In the case of Literacy Volunteers ESOL student, Olesya that path led many miles from her homeland of Kazakhstan to Shreveport, Louisiana as the 25-year-old bride of an American man in 2005. Born in the town of Salginsky in the country of Kazakhstan on April 4, 1979, and a speaker of the Russian language, Olesya grew up in a country whose citizens are well versed in the oppressive impacts of communism, an education that native-born Americans have been spared. In order to be job marketable in Russia, Olesya went to college there, earned an undergraduate degree in Accounting, and went to work until a marriage proposal took her on a long journey to the other side of the world.

Through the recommendation of a mutual friend, Olesya and her mother, Natalya, found their way to the Literacy Volunteers program and to my intermediate level English class. Being quiet by nature, Olesya was at first shy in the English classes. Although she had learned beginning (British) English in her country, it came as a shock to her when she found it was very difficult to understand the language of Americans. For the next few years, we met for 2 hours weekly and Olesya, a dedicated student, progressed rapidly in gaining an understanding of the idioms and expressions so prevalent in the conversations of Americans. Her mother, always outgoing and spontaneous, was very supportive and attended classes with her until Olesya felt comfortable on her own.

In June 2006, a child joined the family with the birth of son, Alexander Jordan another new life experience. Olesya has been dedicated to raising Alex and has continued to work on her English skills. Its important to her to speak English well, and she wants her son to grow up speaking both English and Russian. LVCC chose Olesya for Student of the Year for ESOL in 2007, a well-deserved achievement.

In due time, Olesya decided to look for a job that interested her, having found her former work as an accountant in Russia to be unsatisfying. She worked as a sales associate at Dillards for a few years while she acclimated to the American culture and its language. After much deliberation, in 2009 Olesya decided to enter college at Northwestern School of Nursing in Shreveport and pursue a degree in the health sciences field. Due to a divorce, she was now a single mother and wanted to prepare herself for a job that would be gratifying for her by helping people and allow her to earn a good living.

Olesya has studied very hard during her schooling, always striving for straight As, and in 2010, was accepted into the highly competitive Clinicals Program at Northwestern School of Nursing. It has been another new challenge for this busy mother and student. In the meanwhile, an additional accomplishment was rewarded on August 18, 2011 when Olesya was granted her U.S. citizenship in an oath ceremony presided over by Judge Carl Stewart at the Federal Courthouse in Shreveport. It was a happy moment shared by her family and a very proud English tutor.

Congratulations, Olesya! Youve come a long way and the journey continues.
Leta Leshe, Tutor - ESOL

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