Sophomore Ivan Novikov will spend his summer doing something he and his mom have spent nine years trying so hard to do: become U.S. citizens. The process is supposed to take seven years, but Novikov and his mom have been working on it for nine years. They are still bound in square one.
Novikov was born in Lviv, a small town in the Ukraine where most of his family lives. His birthplace is the only place in Ukraine he could bare going back to if he so had to. His mom is a biologist, but since there aren’t that many job opportunities in the Ukraine and her friends worked at KU Med, she chose to come here. She brought eight-year-old Novikov with her and has been trying to obtain citizenship ever since.
“We’ve tried every tactic possible,” Novikov said. “My mom and I are nowhere near being citizens.”
Obtaining a working Visa is the only way to go about getting a citizenship. Currently, Novikov is here on a working Visa that accompanies his mom. Now he is trying to get a green card, which allows someone from a foreign nation to work permanently in the U.S. for a certain amount of time, but they are extremely hard to get he says.
“I love Ukraine, but it’s just not really a place where I can live,” Novikov said. “I would have some fun if I was in Ukraine, but I’d rather just stay here and hang out with my friends.”
Their plan is to travel to Chicago this summer to get a passport and possibly get one step closer to becoming U.S. citizens. However, the embassy has a certain limit of passports that they can give out, so instead of Chicago, Novikov and his mom might have to fly all the way back to the Ukraine–somewhere he really doesn’t want to spend two months of his summer.
They have spent other summers traveling to the Ukraine to extend their Visas, and, even if he has to spend two months in the Ukraine this summer, Novikov just hopes something good will come out of it.
“I want to stay in the United States and not go to Ukraine this summer or this year,” Novikov said. “But I hope that I finally receive a green card or get a Social Security number and have the ability to work.”
Spain, Austria and Switzerland were the three countries sophomore Caroline Dickens had to choose from. She was contemplating where she would be studying abroad all next year. After eliminating Spain from her list because of excessive paperwork, and Austria because another student had taken the spot, she decided to go with Switzerland. This summer she will be getting ready for her 11 month trip by learning German and cramming a full year English course in before leaving. She also will spend time mentally preparing herself to be away from home for such a long time.
“I’m just mentally preparing for the fact that I’m not going to be with my friends for a whole year and away from my siblings and stuff,” Dickens said. “My mom is going to miss me like crazy–that is probably going to be the hardest part about leaving.”
Dickens is a part of the Rotary Youth Exchange program, where she will be staying with three different host families in Switzerland. While she’s there, she says that she will be doing regular school things that she would most likely be doing if she were here.
“I’ll just be going to school and going to normal classes and stuff kind of like high school here, except I think everyone will be a lot older than me,” Dickens said. “I’m not sure how that works, but basically the same subjects just in German.”
Dickens spent last summer going through multiple different sets of interviews and meetings to see if she would meet the standards to go. Now that she made it into the exchange program and is gearing up for next school year, she is eager to experience the culture of Switzerland. Also, since she is a member of the Hauberk, is excited to take a few pictures while she’s there.
“I’m really excited to come home and say I did it, and not only be there, but get to travel because I love photography, so it will be awesome to take pictures and stuff,” Dickens said.
Jeff Lefko and Robert Enders-Europe
Starting in Geneva, Switzerland and finishing in Rome, seniors Jeff Lefko and Robert Enders are planning a trip to Europe for the summer where they will be roaming cities such as Tuscany and Sorrento, Italy to explore cooking and do some sightseeing. Lefko hopes this experience will help him prepare for college where he wants to study abroad.
Lefko and Enders have been planning the trip for two months and are looking forward to going city-to-city for 16 days on their own.
“We are doing lots of stuff–a cooking class in Tuscany, bike riding in Chianti, day trip to the Island of Capri,” Lefko said. “We will be going to lots of different restaurants and I’ll be working in one for a night while in Rome.”
On the trip, Lefko is taking his backpack and as little as possible so that he doesn’t have to lug everything around with him between each night’s different hotel stay. For both Enders and Lefko, the food is a big part of the appeal. The best part, Lefko said, will be getting to learn about Swiss and Italian cuisine.
“I am very excited to be able to go to a fresh market in Florence and get to eat or cook with some of the best fruits and vegetables that the world has to offer,” Lefko said. “That is definitely something that I cannot experience in Kansas.”
Both Lefko and Enders are hoping their vacation will make them more independent by giving them a chance to explore Europe by themselves. Enders says he’s excited to experience the cultural food difference while he’s there.
“I’m most looking foward to trying the different types of food that are unique to each culture,” Enders said. “Chefs have more opportunities for special foods or varieties that we can’t get here.”
Lefko says that since this is his last summer before college and because it’s hard to leave friends, that this will help him understand what that will be like. Enders, on the other hand, is simply happy with who he will be accompanied by while on the trip.
“I’m excited to see that part of the world,” Enders said. “All the while being able to experience it with a good friend.”