With the help of her volunteer tutor and legal representatives at Pathways to Citizenship, Olga has finally achieved her dream of U.S. citizenship.
She was nervous about the citizenship process, but says it was “not at all difficult, because I was in good hands.” Her interview with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in San Diego “turned out to be the easiest,” not intimidating like she expected, and she credits her tutor Kathie with “boosting my confidence.”
Celebrating her U.S. citizenship at this moment is bittersweet for Olga, since most of her friends and family members are experiencing devastation in Ukraine, while other family members in Russia, “listen to Putin’s propaganda about Ukraine and believe it.”
“When Russia invaded Ukraine,” she says, “it broke my heart. It was as if my Russian relatives went to war with Ukrainian relatives. I feel sorry for my parents. I don’t know when I will see them again.”
Since the invasion, Olga says, “I started to see my childhood home in my dreams. I'm visiting my house and my family. Sometimes I see myself as a child when my granny was alive, and we are talking to each other.”
She remembers a childhood spent fishing with her parents “every summer Sunday,” and visiting the Azov seashore in Mariupol with her brother. Now it is hard to watch “this city being destroyed. And my native town, my school, and my house. The whole country is being damaged by shelling.”
For Olga, this pain is mixed with pride and love for her new country. She says what she values most about the U.S. is freedom. "
Freedom of religion and freedom of speech. You can choose to go to any church. Your rights are protected, and the constitution really works.”