Ukrainian students adapt to DPMHS

Alysa Basmadzhyan

As the one year anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine inches closer, Daniel Pearl Magnet High School (DPMHS) welcomes two Ukrainian refugee students: freshmen Sebastian Olfatmanesh, who has been here in the U.S. for three months, and Alisa Kaharchanko, who has been here for 10 months. 

“I feel a lot more comfortable here because in Ukraine, even before war, I always wanted to come here to the U.S. and start my life from the beginning,” Olfatmanesh said. “Coming here changed my life for the better.”  

Since coming to the U.S. after the war began on Feb. 24, 2022, both Olfatmanesh and Kaharchanko are getting used to the cultural differences between Ukraine and the U.S.

“I wouldn’t say it’s very different here but the mentality of the people is very different,” Kaharchanko said in Russian. “The reaction of people to certain matters, there’s a difference between those that were born here and the socialization, the culture, the habits. For example, to take the language, many people here joke about it to some degree.”

Olfatmanesh has also been adjusting to the new environment. Though he had a hard time finding a group of friends in the beginning, he feels very comfortable at the school now. One hobby that has helped him cope through the change is guitar. Olfatmanesh began playing guitar for two years now and performed a couple of songs in the winter concert. 

“It (guitar) is my favorite thing to do,” Olfatmanesh said. “I don’t know how I would live without it. It kind of saved my life.”

Kaharchanko also brought her hobby to the U.S. and enjoys playing tennis. She has been playing tennis for two years and wishes to be a professional tennis player in the future. 

“I play in a Russian-speaking team and I’d like to make it a profession,” Kaharchanko said.