Archive for March, 2016

A Student Acclimates From Across the Globe

by Katherine Lown

If you pass Slavik in the hallway at school, you might not guess him to be much different from every other guy you see on the way to class. If you sit down and talk with him, however, his smile widens and his story unravels in a kind, Russian accent.

Some people might simply label him a refugee, while others may just call him a student. But 29-year-old Slavik Malenchii has proved himself to be a man of determination, as he journeys toward a bright future.

Having spent the majority of his life in Eastern Europe, Slavik comes from the small country of Moldova. At age 17, he learned his family was going to move halfway across the world to begin life again in the United States. The move would mean leaving behind all his familiar surroundings, his friends, even his girlfriend, and starting over in America without speaking a word of English.

But with Communism growing in his home country and religious persecution increasing, the Malenchii family, all 11 of them, decided to make the transition in 2004. Originally, Slavik had not planned on spending more than a year stateside, but plans changed and he spent the next seven years in Washington. There he lived in a Russian community and worked as many construction jobs as he could pick up with his very limited English.

“In the movies, money grows on trees in America,” Slavik laughed, explaining that, in reality, he found himself making only $7 an hour.

By 2011 Slavik had begun to realize the opportunities a college education could offer. Following the example of some of his family members, he moved to Knoxville, Tennessee to begin school at Pellissippi State.

The first obstacle he had to tackle was mastering English. Slavik began with some adult education courses, and it wasn’t too long before he mastered the language. Four semesters later, Slavik prepares to graduate Pellissippi and transfer to King University in the fall, where he will complete a degree.

In faultless English, he explained that he is studying business management and dreams of starting his own business one day with his brothers. Considering the goals he has already reached and connections he has made, it probably won’t be too long until the brothers’ business is underway.

In the meantime, Slavik works as a project manager for a construction company. He combines his social abilities and hands-on skills by working with customers, as well as doing whatever odd jobs are needed around the workplace.

Looking toward the future, Slavik sees himself settling down with a family, but presently he continues to work hard. “Right now, this company…it’s perfect,” he said gratefully of his present job.

Though the United States has provided many challenges, Slavik has learned much through his experiences and has come to appreciate much more than his schooling. A professional musician, Slavik enjoys playing the accordion in his spare time; he also excels in martial arts. After a stressful day, you will probably find Slavik doing one of his favorite activities: riding his motorcycle through the Smoky Mountains.

Perhaps one day the Moldovan will return to his country and visit friends, but for now, Slavik is content with his future goals and is satisfied with where his journey has led him so far.

Thursday, March 17th, 2016