Interview with Anna Leonenko.
NG: Where were you born?
AL: "Новосибирск, Россия."
NG: When did you move to Canada?
AL: "When I was 11 in '97 or '98."
NG: Were you upset when your parents told you?
AL: "Well, they told me we were going on vacation so I was excited. (Laughs) But, then we never came back."
NG: What would you say is the hardest thing about moving to a new country?
AL: "Definitely different culture, people were really different. Food was obviously and learning a new language. First English then French."
NG: What do you think the hardest thing was for your parents?
AL: "Getting a job and getting used to a new language."
NG: Where would you prefer to live now?
Al: "I like Russia a lot but it's so different. I don't think I would live there. I would love to visit though."
NG: Would your parents ever move back?
AL: "They had established themselves in Russia and had to start all over in a new place. I don't think they would want to do that again."
NG: Where do you think is better?
AL: "I don't think one is better, just different, it depends where you're at. Ups and Downs to both. Better in a way (Canada) because there are more opportunities, better home and it's a lot safer but the people are nothing like in Russia."
NG: How are they different?
AL: "The way they think. I can't relate to a lot of Canadian/American people. Not that they aren't nice but just different backgrounds."
NG: What kind of traditions do you uphold in your family?
AL: "We celebrate New Years not Christmas and Russian Christmas is January 7th."
NG: Do you not celebrate Christmas at all?
AL: "Well like now we get together with our family and all that stuff, but that's how it works in Russia."
NG: What do you mean...works in Russia?
AL: "In Russia people celebrate New Years the same way people celebrate Christmas here (America)."
NG: Do you have special dinners with Russian food for New Years?
AL:"Ya, there's tons and they all have crazy names. There's this like meat potato salad that's popular, then theres pelmeni... umm we have lots of different salads. Then we have these cabbage roll things that are really good."
NG: Overall, do you think your russian background has influenced you more or do you feel like you have settled into your new culture?
AL: "Well my background I'm always going to have but I've adapted to it but I still hold like my ways of thinking and all that stuff that I think I have inherited from there. So like now i feel like I've got both."
I have been friends with Anna for a year now and considering she has been in Canada and America half her life I figured she would be completely adjusted to her new home. It shows what a strong impact a country's culture makes. It reveals how influential the Russian tradition is on its citizens. Anna hasn't returned to Russia since she has moved but hopes to return one day when she is older. I have only been to a few other countries in the world and I can't imagine picking up all my things and moving to a new one, especially Russia where it's culture differs so much from America. Even though Anna and I are really close, it's interesting to hear how she thinks and feels about her heritage. It gives me a better understanding of her and future friends from different backgrounds and lifestyles.