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“A lot of people came to America not just for bread and butter, but to do something for themselves … for this country; many people are entrepreneurs,” added Polukhin, who is a doctor with her own medical clinic in Eagan. “Our American dream came true.”
Now, Kharam hopes Nasha Shkola will be the next big attraction to the west metro.
“We are unique, and we’re a success story,” he said.
Some of the students were adopted from Russia while others have a Russian parent or ancestry. They come to the school from as far away as Prior Lake and Elk River. All classes are taught in English except for one Russian-language class and some music classes.
“Our purpose is to keep the tradition alive, the language alive,” said Stipakov, who is on the school’s board of directors.
Keeping the culture alive
Meerovich helped start the school last year after starting the Slavic Community Center largely to help Russian seniors who had little to no English.
“The Russian community is not different from any other immigrant community; we have the same needs,” he said.
But unlike other immigrant groups, he said there are still gaps in unifying the Russian community in the Twin Cities, especially since residents originate from so many countries.
He and other community leaders hope the school and future programs will help keep the immigrant community together and preserve what many American-born children may otherwise lose.
“We’re trying to keep our culture,” Stipakov added. “But who knows how long that will last.”
Kelly Smith • 612-673-4141