Many of us of Ukrainian descent living abroad have visited Ukraine and have hosted visitors and family from Ukraine. Although all of us consider ourselves Ukrainian and share a common national history, language and culture, growing up and living abroad has made us so different and unique in many different ways. This past summer, of 2017, an OAS Board Member’s Family had the interesting experience of hosting a young teenage girl from Ukraine.
The family which hosted the young lady wrote the following:
“I’ve written this letter to share our experience of this past summer of 2017.
Let’s start at the beginning … during one of the Orphans’ Aid Society (OAS) Board of Directors meetings (of which my husband is a member), it was brought up that one of the OAS coordinators in Ukraine was asking if someone in the US could do a child exchange for the 2017 summer for her grand-daughter Anastasia (Nastya) Cymbala who was 14 years old. Nastya and her parents wanted her to come to the US with the objective of helping Nastya improve her English.
After there were no volunteers to accept Nastya, I discussed this with my husband Mike and we agreed to have Nastya come to our home for the summer. We corresponded with Nastya’s parents and although we are not Nastya’s relatives and there was not a child in our family to do an exchange, we would welcome Nastya to our family because 1) we know how important the work of the coordinators in Ukraine is to the success of OAS and 2) we wanted to help a Ukrainian child in any way to better their life … mind you that we also sponsor 3 orphans through OAS.
Besides the reservations of Nastya’s parents to send their daughter to strangers in the US, we also had concerns … we are retired and our children are grown with their own children, we live in a rural area, our knowledge of the Ukrainian language is limited … but we agreed to welcome Nastya to our family as if she was our daughter.
When Nastya arrived to our home on June 21, 2017 we were a bit apprehensive as to how this would work. Well, all I can say is we are glad we did it. Nastya’s English improved, she learned how things work in the US … shopping, stores, medical, food etc.. We took Nastya everywhere we went – to stores for shopping, Ukrainian church for mass on Sundays, craft fairs, doctor and dental appointments, work in our gardens, visits to our family, etc … and of course we think one of her favorites was to see the musical “Mama Mia”. We in turn improved on our Ukrainian and learned about life in Ukraine.
At the end of Nastya’s stay in the US on August 20, 2017 we were sad to see Nastya leave, we had established a deep connection in Ukraine with Nastya and her parents, Nastya’s English certainly improved, but most of all we now we felt we have an extended family in Ukraine and Nastya has an extended family with us in the US”.
What a wonderful experience !!
Rose Marie & Mike Pawluk