Many Pierce students have a variety of cultures represented in their homes, often more than what could be seen by outsiders.
Russian culture is a great example of this.
Some students on the Puyallup campus are trying to balance the American and Russian cultures. They speak Russian and follow Russian traditions at home while attending school in America. This requires those second- or third-generation immigrates to assimilate to their surroundings.
In America, being sociable with friends is highly encouraged.
“Social norms are a lot different in the Russian culture. Growing up seeing American kids having more freedom than me is difficult. Right now it’s hard being in college, while my parents restrict my freedom. I plan to attend a four-year university, which will require me moving out and my parents are not totally thrilled with that idea,” student Yuliya Rybalka says.
In Russia, the norm is staying close with family and not spending too much time with friends. In America it’s encouraged for teenagers to hang out with friends and learn lessons by experiencing life.
Russian culture is also a bit more conservative; a lot of that has to do with religion.
Student Oleg Pashchinskiy plans to attend medical school once he finishes at Pierce College.
His parents are supportive but remind him that while it’s great to be ambitious and to succeed in life, it’s more important to have a personal relationship with God.
“Everything revolves around religion; we were raised to believe that spiritual well-being is more important than anything else,” Pashchinskiy says.
Although religion is a part of American culture, in Russia it’s traditionally the core of life.
Many families make their decisions based on religion, allowing God to lead the path through life. Through religion, families are drawn closer.
“Because of church, we are very close and hang out very often, we’re always together. The church helps us to be united as a family,” student Mary Kurkov says.
Not only do Russian families support each other, but most Russian people stay close with other Russian people.
“I wasn’t encouraged to interact with Americans too much because my parents didn’t know the rules of American culture, so they didn’t want us to do or say something wrong and get in trouble,” Pashchinskiy says.
In order to make a good impression, Russian parents encourage their children to dress nicely.
For example, for the first day of school many children in Russia wear skirts and a ruffle white button-up shirt and a gigantic bow if they’re female and a nice shirt and pants, or sometimes a suit if they’re male.
These traditions are on-going because they show class and that one cares about their attire and impression made on others.
Student Daniel Maysinovich says he attends church by himself, but one day he was about to walk out the door wearing baggy, comfortable clothes. His mother stopped him to tell him to change his clothes. He said he did as he was told because mother knows best.
“My mom doesn’t want me to look like a bum. She also wants me to give good impressions, so she encourages me to dress nicely,” he says.
According to Kurkov, her parents also made sure she was dressed appropriately for the occasion. She always wore a jacket when it was cold outside so she wouldn’t get sick, because being present at school is important.
The schooling aspect in the Russian culture also seems to be different. Most children are pushed to strive to do their best, so that they may get good careers and do something worthwhile with their lives.
“My top priorities in life right now are my family and friends, because my sisters are my best friends; my future and school, I want to have a good future so that I may be well-off and work, I have a strong work ethic and it is important so that I may be independent and self-reliable,” Rybalka says.
This ties in with work ethic as well. Most Russian parents who move to America do so in order to provide a better life for their children.
They grew up in an environment where work was the main goal; it’s a lot tougher in Russia to make it not only financially but physically as well. Most Russian people are forced to work at a young age in order to support their families.
In contrast, some Americans sometimes take the opportunities they have for granted.
“My parents see America as a lazy culture,” Rybalka says.