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"I like to give to people. This is my heart."

In Olga’s living room, teacup sized cream puffs sit on a plate on a redwood coffee table under a large, gold-framed family portrait on the wall. A stack of pictures and papers splays across the couch between us. We sort through pictures, and stories sift out: a photograph of her English teacher, citizenship papers, Olga as a young girl in Ukraine, her sons—twins who were 14 when they moved to the States, one who was 8, another who was six; a picture with Goshen’s mayor, Alan Kauffman, English class certificates, a photo of a day cleaning fish with her sister […]

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Photo by Sara Klassen
"...people were very patient and tolerant with us. They showed us what to do and we followed directions."

This interview happened on July 15, 2013 in Lidya’s home off of CR 38. A translator facilitated our communication, so this story is an approximate translation and at times combines the speaker’s words with an explanation the translator gave.  When did you come to the U.S.? I came to the United States in 2000 when I was 46. My sisters and mother had come here 10 years before [me]. My sister’s husband and family had been living in New York, but it was hard to find a job in New York. Then the other side of the family came to […]

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"My biggest motivation right now is my youngest daughter and my grandkids."

Phil has had a job every year since he was nine. That is, until 2007. That year, NISCO laid off one fourth of its workforce; he was one of them. So, he and his wife started a five-year trek through unemployment, bankruptcy and foreclosure, and the loss of 80% of their income.  His activity shifted from hard physical labor to online job-searching.  I went from working 12 hours a day to sitting at a computer all day long. When I lost my job I was 170 pounds lighter than I am now. This (he pats his belly), this is unemployment. […]

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What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?

"Never trust a man in a big white van."

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given? Never trust a man in a big white van. If you could give a bunch of people advice what would you say? Never trust a man in a big white van. If your life was a story what would be its title? My Life. What is the chapter you’re in right now? Teenager. What was the happiest moment of your life? When my basketball team was undefeated. What was the saddest moment of your life? This year, when my basketball team didn’t win a game.  

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Who have you met who has been really important in your life?

"Alice Cooper.

He was nice. He was tall. My dream is to play drums for him some day. His wife said that I might be able to…"

Who have you met who has been really important in your life? Alice Cooper.  He was nice. He was tall. My dream is to play drums for him some day. His wife said that I might be able to… I met him in South Bend. I know Tommy the guitar player and he told me I could meet him and his wife. I just went to a concert and Tommy took me back stage. Did Alice Cooper give you any advice? Yeah, “Look for new musicians.” What does that mean for you? Look for new people to listen to, new kinds […]

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Which stories are not told here?

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What was the happiest moment of your life?

It would be two. My wedding day and the day we adopted my son, the day he came home to be ours.

What was the saddest moment?

Probably my brother’s death because it was unexpected. And because I felt afterwards like I hadn’t been the best sister, the nicest most understanding. He was sort of a pain in the neck sometimes.

What would be the title of your life if it was a story? Changes. Because I’ve had lots of changes in my life. Lots of things have happened to me. So would those changes be the chapters? Yeah they would be: Young and Stupid. Young and Curious. Self Discipline. Learning. What was the happiest moment of your life? It would be two. My wedding day and the day we adopted my son, the day he came home to be ours. What was the saddest moment? Probably my brother’s death because it was unexpected. And because I felt afterwards like I […]

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"You only live once. I know it sounds really cliche, but I think it can really affect how you make a decision. Are you going to have this opportunity again? Is you pass this up now, will it pop up another time?"

What was the happiest moment of your life? My happiest moment was after SST (Goshen College’s three month study abroad program). The biggest thing that I missed was regular cold milk, they just didn’t have it anywhere, and my mother’s white chocolate raspberry scones. When I came home and plopped down on the couch with milk and a scone I thought about how surreal it was to be home. If your life was a story what would be its title? Know Lots of People Relationships give so much meaning to your life. In situations where you’re down or you’re up, […]

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"I try to be positive. It saves your body and mind a lot of wear and tear. You have to have a positive attitude to live in a complex world."

Tell me a little about yourself. How long have you lived in Goshen? I’ve lived in Goshen most of my life. I lived in a family of seven kids and we still have the house that my parents lived in, right across from the library. I went to school with the mayor of Goshen. (I beat him up in first grade.) I’m 64 years old, so I spend my time any way I want. I moved to Santa Barbara, California for a few years. I U-hauled myself out there and U-hauled my way back. I went because I always wanted […]

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"When I’m around other people and in conversation with other people I’m happier than when I’m not."

If your life was a story what would be its title? A Search for Meaning. Why would that be the title? That’s been what has been my motivation lately. It’s been what I look forward to. It’s what has intrigued me about life. I like having conversations about that and ask people questions that dig at what that means. What is a meaning you’ve found lately? Well that’s why I’m searching. But I think its partly relationships with other people. When I’m around other people and in conversation with other people I’m happier than when I’m not. Are there other […]

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