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Russian woman visits county to learn

By Staff
Jonathan Willis
When looking for the right place to learn the English language, where better to turn than Franklin County, Ala.
One Russian woman will spend the next two months in Russellville trying to do just that.
Irina Zinchenko, of Moscow, Russia, will spend the next two months at the home of Yvonne and Paul Foster, of Russellville.
The Fosters met Zinchenko when she and her husband, Ilya Dzhumaev, traveled to the United States for the first time last summer to attend their niece's wedding in Florence. The Fosters knew Zinchenko's niece, a former foreign exchange student at Lynn High School, and a friend of their granddaughter.
The two families quickly became friends and Zinchenko decided to spend time here to learn English, something her husband, an advertising executive in Russia, already knows.
After a three-week trip through Florida and New Orleans, Zinchenko arrived in Russellville late last week. She will work with a linguist from Florence through March, studying English.
The couple lives in Moscow and has visited several large cities in the United States, including New York City, but said small towns seem to be the real America, much like in Russia.
"Little towns are what is really Russia, not like Moscow," Ilya said. "People work in factories and live in small towns."
He did say that small American towns are more advanced than rural areas of Russia.
"You have good roads, the Internet, central heat," he said.
"In Russia you can't find that in small towns."
During the couple's visit to the U.S. last year they visited 10 states and saw many attractions. But, America is still much different than what they expected.
"It is different than the cinema," Ilya said laughing.
He said Americans are fortunate to be able to make money everywhere, but that is not the case in his native country.
"In Russia we have more historical places, but we cannot make money," he said while comparing Russia's present to its past.
"People in Europe are afraid of Russia but we have a small army. Things are better than they used to be."
For the Fosters, having someone from a foreign land around is nothing new.
Yvonne Foster, a retired educator like her husband, has spent her retirement traveling all over the world. However, speaking Russian will be new to her.
"I usually know enough to talk to the locals wherever I'm at," she said.
But for the next two months, she will be helping one woman learn our deep Southern culture and language.
"It should be fun," she said.