By Niki Best
The Scene staff
U.S.-Russian relations have been strained since last fall, when U.S. intelligence officials announced that Vladimir Putin’s government had hacked Democratic Party emails in an effort to help Donald Trump win the presidential election.
That put Anna Majorova, a Russian accounting student at Forest Park, in an odd position. She disliked Putin but supported Trump over Hillary Clinton. She liked the way Trump encouraged cooperation between the two countries.
“When I saw the two candidates up for election, I did prefer Donald Trump because Clinton was in government for many years, and (Trump) has never been,” Anna said. “He’s a very specific person for the job, and he’s a businessman. He may just be able to help with jobs in America.”
Anna, 37, couldn’t vote in the election because she’s not a U.S. citizen. She definitely thinks the U.S. government is better than the Russian government.
“Russian government is very socialist and not at all what I wanted for my family,” she said with a heavy accent. “Putin is not liked, and I would not want to be there. Many people left when he moved into presidency.”
Anna and her husband, Vadim, moved from Ukraine in 2014 to escape persecution and the Russian-Ukrainian war and to create a better life for their 10-year-old son, Mark.
“I would never want my son to have to go into the army due to any political oppression,” Anna said. “And that is exactly what would happen if we were to stay there. That is a horrible thing.”
Anna began attending Forest Park in 2015. She has studied English as a second language with Keith Hulsey, ESL coordinator and professor.
“We love having her,” he said. “We don’t have as many students from Europe as we did 10 or 20 years ago, so it’s interesting to have her point of view on any topic we discuss.”
Hulsey has been impressed by Anna’s steady progress in the past two years and her willingness to participate in classes.
“She is a very diligent and hard-working student,” he said.
Anna was born in Russia when it was part of the U.S.S.R., the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Civil unrest prompted her family to move to Ukraine, one of the republics that became separate countries when the Soviet Union broke apart in 1991.
Anna had to overcome many obstacles, including learning a new language.
“The (Ukrainian) government had stated that, ‘From this day on, we will study and speak Ukrainian,’” she said. “So in school, we’d speak Ukraine, but around family and friends, we’d still speak our native language that we’d learned as children, which was Russian.”
Getting used to life in America hasn’t always been easy, either. But Anna is happier with the political situation.
“People here, even though it may not seem like it, are on their better behavior compared to my past government,” she said. “In my country, all they would do is fight. But not with words, with their hands. It almost felt like a boxing match some of the time.”
Anna has found that other aspects of American life aren’t that much different from Russia.
“For entertainment, it is basically all the same,” Anna said. “However, Russian and Ukraine government merges politics and entertainment much of the time. There are many political commercials and videos that idolize Vladimir Putin. It is almost considered a type of entertainment and is very common. It’s seen as normal. Here, in America, you wouldn’t normally see that within politics.”
Anna’s son, Mark, likes going to a U.S. elementary school.
“It’s not as difficult here, and there isn’t as much homework as there was in Ukraine, which I love,” he said.
The Majorova family enjoys taking trips and finds traveling in the U.S. by car much easier than it was in Ukraine or Russia.
Anna’s husband, Vadim, also appreciates access to health care, products and services in the United States.
“This country is one of the most stable in the world,” he said. “In Ukraine, the government is so corrupt. Of course, we understand that there are also many problems here, but in comparison with other countries, they aren’t even problems.”
The Majorovas have noticed that American women are treated much better than those in Russia, where most hold “secondary” positions. They’re not considered equal to men.
“Here in America, we love to visit with my husband’s family,” Anna said. “He has a lot of American family here that welcomed us when we moved into the country. It was very comforting to know we have loved ones here for us whenever we need them. It’s fun spending time with them.”