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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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What was the best advice you were ever given?

"To enjoy my children while they’re young and take advantage of every moment to be with them."

I do research for the Horizon Education Alliance a non-profit in Elkhart County. We are looking at improving the educational outcomes of all of our residents. I’m doing the work of evaluating and making sure we’re effective in our work. What was the happiest moment of your life? I couldn’t pick one because I have two kids. So, when both of my children were born. What was the saddest moment? Losing people I love. What was the best advice you were ever given? To enjoy my children while they’re young and take advantage of every moment to be with them. […]

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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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"In my nation we have a famous poet who said something like, 'Learn something new, but don’t forget your roots.'"

July 15, 2013– I met Andrew, a friend of our Ukrainian translator and another interviewee in a home off of Kercher Road. He moved to the U.S. a year and six months before this interview.  Could you tell me a bit about yourself? I was born in Ukraine. It’s a little country in central Europe. I was born in a little town, Rivne town, in 1979. I have a mother, father and one brother, a little brother. After middle school I studied at national university. After national university I studied at a Bible college. After Bible college I started work. […]

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"I was born to a family that was well knit; we got along. I think having a foundation like that, where you get along with your parents and your siblings allows you to move out into the world with a sense of, well, feeling lucky."

If your life were a story, what would be it’s title? Lucky. Why? Because I was born to a family that was well knit; we got along. I have two sisters who are two of my best friends. I think having a foundation like that, where you get along with your parents and your siblings allows you to move out into the world with a sense of, well, feeling lucky.  

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"I think that often we just walk by people or we just keep our zones of space. But if you take a moment and are willing to ask a question or give a smile or make a comment or observation or something positive to them it can start a conversation that doesn’t happen normally."

If your life was a story what would be its title? Normal is Good I have often felt like my life is normal. It doesn’t have a lot extremes or as much struggles and yet it is good and rewarding and rich nonetheless. What was the best advice you’ve ever been given? Just to be me not  try to be someone else. One of my high school teachers that I respected a lot gave me that advice. What advice would you give a crowd of people? Try to get to know people for who they really are. Listen to their […]

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¿Cuáles serían los capítulos en el cuento de tu vida?

"El Antes, El Comienzo, y El Después. El antes sería cuando era rebelde. El comienzo sería empezar una nueva vida, y el después sería vivir en harmonía y paz."

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What would the chapters be in the story of your life?

"The Past, The Beginning, The After. The past would be when I was a rebel. The beginning was the start of a new life. The after was living in harmony and peace."




¿Si tu vida fuera un cuento, cual sería su título? Nueva criatura ¿Y por qué? Porque he vuelto a nacer y ahora las cosas son diferentes. ¿Como eras antes? Era muy rebelde. ¿Cuáles serían los capítulos en el cuento de tu vida? El Antes, El Comienzo, y El Después Puedes describir cada uno un poco? El antes sería cuando era rebelde, el comienzo sería creer, y el después es lo que creo. ¿Los puedes describir con mas detalles? La rebeldía sería vivir las penas, el comienzo sería empezar una nueva vida, y el después sería vivir en harmonía y paz. […]

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"¿Si tu vida fuera una historia, qué título le pusieras?

Un Nuevo Comienzo

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If your life was a story, what title would you give it?

A New Beginning"

¿Si tu vida fuera una historia, qué título le pusieras? Un Nuevo Comienzo ¿Por qué? Antes de venir a los Estados Unidos, no conocía a Dios. Mi vida estaba vacía. Habían muchas cosas malas, no me sentía bien. ¿Cuáles serían los capítulos? Mi Niñez, Mi Juventud, Mi Independencia, Conocer a Cristo ¿Podrías hablar más sobre tu independencia? Tuve mi hijo a los 16 años, estuve con su papá por un año. Después nos dejamos y fui madre y padre de mi hijo por ocho años. Yo trabajé, estudié, y ayudé a mi mamá. Ella cuidaba a mi hijo y yo […]

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What story are you living today?

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What advice would you give a whole bunch of people?

"Try to find connections with other people. That can lead to so many things.

And you don’t need to fill any moment of space with something else."

What was the happiest moment of your life? The one that comes to mind is biking to the most remote location I know and wandering around through the woods on this big hill and finding this dock picnic table with a boat hitch. Sitting there in what felt like the middle of nowhere even though I really wasn’t. There was a little stream and a little marsh. I felt independent because I discovered a place I had never heard about. That was the summer I was working through feelings of leaving high school and going to college. I was glad […]

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