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Interview with Irina Andronic

Andronic, Irina
Fisher, Andy
Date of Interview: 
Relationships with people and places; Stories and storytellers
Irina Andronic talks about growing up in Russia and tells the Russian version of the Gingerbread Man
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Andy Fisher interviews Charlotteans to collect stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
AF (Andy Fisher): All right. If you will just state your name.
IA (Irina Andronic): Irina.
AF: Speak a little bit louder.
IA: Irina.
AF: OK. I am interviewing Irina. What's your last name Irina?
IA: Irina.
AF: OK. Irina. And, where are you from?
IA: Russia.
AF: From Russia. All right, very good. What part of Russia?
IA: Moldova.
AF: Moldova. Where, what is that near? Any other?
IA: Um, Ukraine.
AF: Ukraine. All right, very good, very good. How long have you been in the United States?
IA: Three and a half years.
AF: Three and a half years? Um, where did you go to elementary school?
IA: G. H. Gunn.
AF: OK. Where is that?
IA: In Charlotte.
AF: In Charlotte, very good. Um, do you have any pets?
IA: No.
AF: No pets? Um, how many people are in your family?
IA: Um, I have one sister, my mom, and my dad.
AF: OK. Are they, is your sister older or younger than you?
IA: Younger.
AF: Younger. All right, um, let's see. Out of all the books, I know, do you like to read, first of all?
IA: Sort of.
AF: Sort of? All right. Well, what's your favorite book?
IA: Um, The Boxcar Children.
AF: OK. Why is that your favorite book?
IA: Um, because it's, it reminds me of Russia, because in Russia there's a lot of orphans-.
IA: -In the streets trying to find homes.
AF: OK, all right. Um, what else about the book? Anything else?
IA: No.
AF: OK, all right. Um, can you give me a descr-, do you remember your home in Russia?
IA: Yes.
AF: Can you describe it for me a little bit?
IA: Well, it was an apartment. Five floors.
IA: I lived on the fourth floor. Um, two bedroom.
AF: OK. Was it in a city or?
IA: Like country.
AF: Country? Like here?
IA: Uh, yeah.
AF: Like here, OK, in North Carolina. All right, um, was it mountainous or flat?
IA: Flat.
AF: It was flat? Any water nearby? Lakes, oceans?
IA: Um, no just forests.
AF: No, just forests? OK, very cool. Um, [clears throat] maybe, what's one of your favorite maybe nursery rhymes or stories that your mom and dad have told you? Maybe that you've never heard here in America but maybe that you've heard in Russia?
IA: Uh, well in school they used to tell us a lot of different stories. Like, um, the fox and a ball.
AF: OK, what is that? What do you mean? Just like a round ball?
IA: Well, it was like a, it's like a gingerbread man.
IA: Except it's a ball.
AF: OK. Describe it for me a little bit.
IA: Um.
AF: I know you said it's like a gingerbread man, so it's like a cookie?
IA: No, it was a ball.
AF: OK, all right.
IA: And, um, one day a grandmother-.
AF: Um-hmm.
IA: -Um, she wanted children, but she couldn't have them. So she, she cooked a, um, like a cook-, a cookie.
AF: Um-hmm.
IA: And then it turned into, like, a talking ball.
AF: Oh, OK.
IA: And then, um, whenever the ball rolled away the grandpa and the grandma ran after it and, um, the little round ball, uh, stopped because there was a lake and he wanted to get through. So the fox, um, let him through and then she ate him.
AF: Oh, OK. So the fox carried him across the water-.
IA: Yeah.
AF: -And then ate him?
IA: Yeah.
AF: OK. What happened to the grandmother and the grandfather? Did they ever find this out?
IA: Uh, yeah, they were sad.
AF: They were sad? OK, very cool. Um, [coughs] is America everything you thought it would be? Did you hear stories of America before you came over?
IA: Uh, no.
AF: No? You really didn't hear anything about America before you came over?
IA: Huh-uh.
AF: OK. And how old were you when you left Russia?
IA: Eight.
AF: Eight. And you're how old now?
IA: Twelve.
AF: Very good. Um, what is one of your favorite memories of Russia that you remember? What's one of your favorite memories?
IA: Well, I have a lot. But the most, one is, um, it's like I'll never forget it. It's when me, and my cousin, and my other cousin-.
AF: Um-hmm.
IA: -We went to their house and we then we went outside, it was snowing. So, we, we, and there was this kindergarten-.
AF: Um-hmm.
IA: -School, so, um, we went inside and there was a person, who like, a security and we sh-, we were playing, and like, whoever would, um, escape the, the um, the first.
AF: Um-hmm.
IA: So we would play that like all day.
AF: All day. OK, very good. Um, [coughs] sounds like you had a very interesting childhood. That sounds like fun. So you, which one do you like better? Do you like America better, or do you like Russia better? Which one, if you had a choice to live in either one, where would you choose to live?
IA: Well, I have a lot of cousins and friends in the United States.
AF: Um-hmm.
IA: And, um, like my grandma and my mom's, um, brother lives there, and my dad's brother and sister.
IA: So, maybe both.
AF: Both? OK. You like both of them equally. That's fine, that's fine. Um, how have you, this is a hard question sort of, I don't know if you'll be able to answer this, but how did you learn to speak English? How did you start learning to speak English?
IA: Well, in Russia, in school when I was in second grade, we had to learn English.
IA: So we learned English like maybe about half of a year and then I moved to the United States, to New York.
IA: And then, um, I went to school, to third grade and went to ESL.
AF: Right.
IA: And about in two or three months I learned English.
AF: Oh, very cool, very cool. How do you feel about, like, people in your class, that don't speak English as well as you do that, that have been here, maybe longer than you have but still can't speak the language as well as you can? How does that make you feel?
IA: Like, sort of [pause] like upset.
AF: Why? What do you mean by upset? Towards them, or?
IA: Towards them because like, maybe, four years they lived here, and still don't know English so.
AF: Right. You feel like they should know it by now?
IA: Yeah.
AF: OK. Very good. Hmm, let's see, just looking over this for a second, um, what do you like best about, uh, are there any differences in the schools here and in the schools in America?
IA: Yes.
AF: OK. Like what?
IA: We have schools from first, no second grade, until twelfth grade-.
IA: -In all one school.
AF: Oh, wow, so it's, how many students? Do you know how many students?
IA: About ten thousand-.
AF: Oh, OK.
IA: -Or more.
AF: So it's a very big school?
IA: Yeah.
AF: It's a big campus, you would say?
IA: Um-hmm.
AF: Spread out?
IA: Um-hmm.
AF: OK. Um, what school do you like better? Did you like going to school in Russia better than here? Or do you like here better than Russia?
IA: Well, in Russia we have to learn two languages. English and another language.
AF: What was your other language?
IA: Romanian and that's what I hate. [Laughter]
AF: [Laughter] Why do you hate Romanian? What's so, what's so tough about it?
IA: We had to do a lot of homework and projects and stuff like that. So.
AF: You didn't have to do that with English?
IA: Um, sort of-.
AF: But it was.
IA: -But um, I like both languages.
AF: OK. Very good. Now when you, when you say you speak, you speak Russian as well, right?
IA: Um-hmm.
AF: Um, what, is there different dialects in Russia. I mean different languages, like different types of Russian?
IA: Uh, yeah.
AF: Like what? What are the differences?
IA: There's Ukrainian.
IA: Romanian, um, Russian and I think that's it.
AF: OK. Would you speak Ukrainian or Russian?
IA: I speak Ukrainian,-.
AF: Um-hmm.
IA: -Russian, Bosnian,-.
AF: Oh, wow.
IA: -Um, Romanian-.
AF: Uh-huh.
IA: -And English.
AF: Oh, very good, very good. So, you have a lot of languages that you can use. So, you could travel a little bit.
IA: Um-hmm.
AF: Do want to travel? Would you like to travel when you get older more? Would you like to go to different places?
IA: Yeah.
AF: OK. Do you want to live in different places, or would you just like to visit and then come back home?
IA: Probably both.
AF: Both? OK. That's good, that's good. Is there anything, um, there are going to be other people listening to this, OK, on the internet, which you signed the form for, uh, is there anything you would like to tell those people about, maybe, stereotypes that we have about Russia or the Ukraine? Is there anything you think we should know? [Pause] No?
IA: It's just like country-ish.
AF: It's just kind of like here? Kind of like North Carolina?
IA: Uh, kind of like Monroe.
AF: Kind of like Monroe?
IA: Yeah.
AF: OK. In what way is-?
IA: It, it has, I mean Ukraine and Russia has animals and, um, like, farms, and stuff like that.
AF: OK. So, it's not, not too different then?
IA: No.
AF: OK. Very good, very good. We're going to stop. That'll be it. Is that all right?
IA: Yeah.
AF: All right. Thank you. Appreciate it.