Andrew Sokolchik Becomes a Citizen
Department of Agricultural Economics' Junior, Andrew Sokolchik, became a citizen of the United States of America on September 22nd. Andrew left Belarus over ten years ago in a move he described as 'hard" and "take what you can carry." With very little English skills, Andrew found elementary school difficult and didn't make his first American friend until 8th grade. He stated, "In middle school, people made fun of my clothes, my habits, and my accent." However; things changed a great deal in high school; "foreign kids were the center of attention in high school - people loved the accents, the different culture, and different lifetyle."
Andrew got his Green Card as a high school sophomore and started the process of becoming an American citizen. Although he was known as "The Russian", he lost his accent and became outwardly American. However; he preserved his Russian heritage by staying connected with Russian friends, reading Russian books, watching Russian movies, and writing essays in Russian. After the mandatory waiting period, his parents helped him with the citizenship process. This included an interview, an exam over American History, fingerprinting and a variety of paperwork. He then headed to South Bend to say the Pledge of Allegiance, receive his "Welcome to America" packets with the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, etc. and was sworn in as an American citizen. Sokolichik, stated, " I will admit that sitting in that courtroom moments away from becoming a citizen made me a lot more excited that I initially anticipated. I was fidgeting in my seat. It felt really good to officially no longer be an outsider. I was finally like my friends."
When Andrew walked into his academic advisor’s office this semester, he exclaimed, “I get to vote in this election.” He has already been serving his country through the Habitat for Humanity program. He spent Spring Break 2011 in Charleston, South Carolina as part of the Collegiate Challenge program. Andrew stated, “The Challenge was by far the best and most memorable college experience. Our group from Purdue and the group from NYU quickly became great friends. So much so that we started going to dinners together, we spent our free day together, and signed the Habitat House "Purdue+NYU=Love.” Since this trip, he has been spending his Saturdays helping the local Habitat for Humanity program. While reflecting on these Saturdays, he shared, “. It's nice to give back somehow, to know that you've made a difference in somebody's life whether they know it or not.”