Imagine locking your front door for the last time, dropping off the key on your way out. Your life is packed in a couple small suitcases and you bid your friends and family farewell. Your plane ticket has "one-way" stamped across the top. As you embark on your journey, you contemplate your new life. During 30 years after 1975, about 500,000 immigrants from the former Soviet Union have navigated to America, finding themselves immersed in a strange land filled with people speaking a different language and supermarkets offering 64 different types of jam.
As can be expected, a handful of large U.S. cities have sizeable Russian-speaking communities. Like other immigrant populations, Russian immigrants tend to spend at least their first few years absorbed in these close-knit communities. There are Russian groceries and restaurants with familiar foods, TV channels in Russian with familiar programming, and regular concerts by Russian entertainers. There are even local Russian newspapers and magazines. Unfortunately, smaller Russian immigrant communities have neither Russian stores, nor Russian entertainment options. Cities with a couple thousand immigrants or less, like Kansas City in the 1980s, are not able to support a vibrant Russian community.
In 1998, when our newspaper was founded as a local publication in the Kansas City area, the city was home to about 3,000 immigrants. Today, based on recent estimates, about 17,000 immigrants from the former Soviet Union have decided to start the next chapter of their lives in the area.
Russian immigrants tend to be highly-educated. Within several years of arrival in the United States, they are generally able to find a job, buy house or car, and, while a struggle, provide for the daily essentials of life. They want to integrate with broader American culture and become active in community life. Yet, they are not quite ready to abandon their roots. While there are numerous national and regional newspapers and magazines in Russian, they tend to have very limited coverage of local news and issues. Religion is practically ignored. Russian newspapers published by religious organizations, whether they be Jewish, Christian, or of any other denomination, contain traditional, established viewpoints that do not generally resonate with Russian immigrants. Under Soviet rule, all religion was banned, and immigrants are not able to find an open, welcoming discussion to help draw them in to community life.
Our newspaper was founded to fill this gap. As Russian immigrants build their lives in the U.S., their children struggle to navigate the gap between American culture and their Russian backgrounds. We discovered that even if they speak Russian, they are rarely able to read it, having grown up in American schools, which led us to introduce an English Edition. We aim to serve the about 500,000 Russian-speaking immigrants in the U.S. by bringing together a community of like-minded individuals working to make a life in their new home.
<= GO BACK
<<== BACK TO MAIN