Anya Lyubarskaya, a 15-year-old sophomore at Lee Vining High School, sits across the table from me, answering each interview question easily and thoughtfully, smiling at certain ones she finds clever. At a glance, Anya looks like a typical American high schooler - dressed in a casual sun dress and red sandals, her long blonde hair falling down her back. But as we get farther into the interview, it becomes clear that Anya has many more stories, and a more interesting past than a typical girl her age.
First off, Anya has just moved to June Lake from a small, rural town in Russia. But try talking to Anya for more than a few minutes, it’s hard to guess that she hasn’t lived in the United States for the majority of her life. Anya fits in well as an American with her near-perfect English and easy smile, and she is well involved in the school - going on school trips, and representing her sophomore class in ASB. Most people would probably have a very hard time transitioning from life in Russia to that in June Lake, but Anya is having a great time so far. When asked to describe the perfect day, she said: “I really liked the first day of school [here]. It was so unexpected how kind the children and teachers were… It is very cute and small and nice. I like it.”
As scary as moving to an entirely new country seems, Anya is loving her new home so far. Although she misses Russia at times, she thinks June Lake is a beautiful place and she is lucky to get to experience it. She thoughtfully reflected, “I love when you wake up in the morning and look out the window and there’s not some disgusting wall looking at you, or a random street cat wandering around your house. Instead there’s a beautiful view of mountains and lake.”
On top of her life at school, Anya is a very dedicated piano player. She has been playing the grand piano since she was five years old, and her teacher was one of the best from her town in Russia. This October, Anya will be traveling to Pennsylvania to take part in a piano competition. At the competition, Anya will play three or four pieces from different composers, including the Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninov that the competition was created in honor of. Over fifty piano players from all over the nation will compete. In addition to piano, Anya also loves windsurfing, because it’s a nice break and she has gotten pretty good at it, and dancing - she is currently taking tango and waltz classes.
Anya is a very open, talented, kind and outgoing person; someone who you love as soon as you get to know them well. What she misses most about Russia is her family and pets, who she had to leave behind.
But for now, she is embracing and starting to love her new life in the United States. She makes a wonderful addition to our school with her ready participation in activities, willingness to try new things, and enthusiasm for everything she does.