Russians' Tale - Victoriya McFarland

by Suzanne Schreiner & r & & r & Married to America & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & I & lt;/span & f you spotted 31-year-old ESL teacher Victoriya McFarland on the street, you would assume the petite blond in the brown denim jacket and slacks was just another young American woman. Not until she begins to speak, with the rolling Rs of her native Ukraine, would you believe that she came to Spokane from Alushta, a picturesque city of about 50,000 on the mild Crimean coast.

Thoughtful and earnest, McFarland trained as a teacher at what is now the University of Pushkin in Ukraine and taught middle school and high school for two years. She came to Spokane in October 2003, not as a religious refugee, but with her American husband, whom she had met while he was serving as a Christian missionary in Ukraine after retiring from the Army. She and her husband spent time at a children's cancer hospital where they told Bible stories and played music to entertain the children.

McFarland has a temporary permit to teach adult ESL, but just before Thanksgiving, she took the test required for a Washington teaching certificate. Four-and-a-half hours long with dozens of short answers as well as essays, she exclaims, it was "too much information at once." There is an even more challenging test to pass, and then she will be able to continue as an adult ESL teacher or teach language arts to children in the public schools. Though she enjoys both, she jokes, "Adults are easier to teach, but children are more challenging and interesting. Sometimes kids, like dogs, taking you for walk."

In Ukraine it would be unusual for a woman of her age not to have a family. Taking an American outlook on having children, she says she may wait until she is in her late thirties or even early forties.

When she visited her family in Ukraine recently, her former students teased, "You left us for America." She saw the changes that had taken place and realized, "I could be so useful there." She has thought about going back, but when she saw again the corruption in local elections, she decided there was no going back. She has a good husband and plans for the future. Spokane is her home now.

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