The article has been automatically translated into English by Google Translate from Russian and has not been edited.

"I feel much more special in the USA": how a wunderkind from Russia lives, who moved to Houston


Source: Ekaterinburg Online

Last spring, the child prodigy Mark Vishnya, who in two years glorified Yekaterinburg on the Minute of Fame show with the ability to count faster than a calculator, moved to live in the USA. Shortly after the move, the student’s mother, Natalya, said that she had first thought about emigration when Mark was still young. The reason was disappointment in the Russianoh education system, which, according to Mark's parents, more likely suppresses than develops children.

Photo: personal archive of the family,

Now Mark lives with his family in Houston and is in high school. We contacted the boy and his mom and found out how their lives changed after moving to the States, writes Ekaterinburg Online.

“I feel much more special in the USA than in Russia”

- In Russia, everyone knew about your talent, that you participated in the Minute of Glory show. Because of this, probably, both teachers and classmates treated you in a special way. The media wrote about you as a prodigy. Once in the American school, you became “like everyone else.” Was this change easy for you?

Mark: - In part, everything turned out the opposite. In the Russian school I was not told that I was “special.” The teachers did not emphasize that I have any outstanding abilities. Here, in the USA, nobody really knows that I have the ability to do mathematics, but here I feel much more special than in Russia.

Natalya: - Many teachers in high school were disappointed when they saw that Mark had triples. Their idea of ​​a "gifted child" was reduced to the fact that the student should be a round high school student, have time for all subjects. However, many teachers did not do anything to unlock the potential of children. Now we receive letters of thanks from the school. We are told to thank you for raising a “gifted child”. Mark's sister, Alina, is in high school, which Mark recently graduated from. The teachers still remember him and say to Alina: “Give my regards to my brother, he is very clever with you”.

- Do you like your new school? How does the system of education in the USA differ from the Russian?

Mark: - I like a lot more in American school. Now I am studying at Bellaire High School (one of the prestigious schools in Houston. - Ed.). I have complete freedom, I can choose the subjects for which I will be engaged. Here everyone has their own individual schedule. If you want to play the guitar - go play, if you want to study mathematics at a deeper level - please. Therefore, unlike the Russian school, here everyone can learn what interests him.

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In the US, I do not have the feeling that a teacher is something above. In Russia, it seemed to me that teachers were supervisors. They are needed in order to follow the students. There is no such thing. We communicate at the same level. The teachers are not trying to “inflate” themselves in front of me. They treat schoolchildren calmly and friendly, they try to help if something is not clear. If you have a gap on a topic, then you can come and get a free consultation. Here they pay a lot of attention. Therefore, it is not necessary to hire tutors.

Natalia: - There are no parent meetings. Information about the progress is only the teacher and parents of the child. Mark, for example, does not know how his friend is learning. This is done in order to avoid discrimination, so that children perceive each other from a human point of view, regardless of academic performance. In the USA, they consider that assessments are a personal matter of a child, parents and teacher.

Photo: personal archive of the family,

- What subjects did you choose as your main ones?

Mark: - At first, I wanted to study Spanish for two years, two years for Russian, but then I decided that it was not entirely correct for Americans to take Russian lessons. Therefore, I took a course in the direction of "business." I also do a lot of math. In American school, I understand it better than in Russian. This is precisely due to the fact that if something is incomprehensible to me, then I do not accumulate these “gaps” in the subject, but fill in the gaps during consultations. Now I have a consistently high score in math, 97 – 98 from 100. It's like “excellent” in the Russian school.

- Have you already decided what you will do after graduation?

Mark: - While I do not plan anything. I'm just trying on different options. I chose the business course in order to devote more time to finance, but I cannot say that I see myself as a financier in the future. I'm looking for myself. After leaving school, most likely, I will stay in the USA. I would like to study in Switzerland or in Singapore, because there you can also get a good education.

“I want a part of Russia to remain in me”

- Did you have a hard time moving to the States?

Mark: - At first it was hard. In Yekaterinburg, I have a lot of friends I appreciated. It turned out that I had to leave them for the sake of a new life. This was probably the hardest. At first, I was critical. I thought that I would never see them again. But then I calmed down, I realized that no one knows what will happen next. Maybe our parting is not forever. Now I am chatting with friends from Russia, so we continue to communicate.

- Have you made new friends yet?

Mark: - Frankly speaking, I am a person who chooses friends carefully. To new acquaintances, I am suspicious in the sense that I do not immediately run to embrace people who say to me: “Let's be friends!”. I think if we can be friends, if this person will be close to me. A friend for me is not just a person with whom I met at school and communicate. This is something more personal. Therefore, I would say that I have many friends in the USA, but not friends. Perhaps they will become my friends in the future.

Natalia: - In America, a child can come to the first class with some children, and graduate from school - with others. This is due to the training system. Elementary, Middle, High School are different types of schools, they are in different buildings and often at a great distance from each other. Also a lot depends on the parents. If at work they are transferred to another city, then they move with the whole family. It turns out that only a child has started a relationship with someone, as he is already changing school. Therefore, there are problems with making friends.

- Were you having problems communicating in English when you first moved to the USA?

Mark: - I know English well, but at first it was hard. I understand what they say to me, despite the American accent, but I still cannot get rid of my Russian accent. At first I studied in a special adaptation class for those for whom English is a second language. All subjects were in English, we passed the same program as in regular classes. Now I am in a regular classroom.

- Do you plan to get US citizenship?

Mark: - I am not going to change Russian citizenship. In order to live in the United States, it is enough to have a green card. I want some part of Russia to remain in me. Therefore, I do not seek to obtain American citizenship.

Photo: personal archive of the family,

- Alina and Matvey (older brother. - Ed.) Consider the same?

Natalia: - We talked about this with all the children, and I can say that they hold the same opinion. They believe that the green card is enough for them, because they should be able to return to their homeland at any time. They will remain citizens of Russia and will not refuse Russian citizenship.

- Do you connect your future with the USA or are you planning to move to another country?

Mark: - I don’t want to stay in the USA. There are many places in the world where I would like to live and work. I find it stupid to lock myself in one place. When I lived in Russia, I had the feeling that everything was the same. Everything seemed ordinary to me. When I arrived in the USA, I saw how versatile human life can be and how different people can be.

- Have you ever been biased by other people simply because you are from another country or because you are Russian?

Mark: - Personally, this has never happened to me. All people are friendly to me, consider me a friend. I see that when it comes to personal relationships, politics is of no interest to anyone. Yes, I heard that sometimes this happens. But there are exceptions everywhere, so I would prefer not to focus on that. America - a country of migrants, where they go from everywhere. If someone made a comment about race or nationality, here it would be regarded as disrespect.

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Natalya: - At first, we were afraid that we would be treated badly simply because we were Russian, because it is believed that there is a tacit war between Russia and the United States. In fact, nothing like this. Most Americans do not know that there is a certain confrontation between countries. Even if they talk about it on television, everything passes by. No one has ever told me or my children that we are “enemies” or that we are bad. I would even say that Russians in the United States are treated with respect.

“I want to return to Ekaterinburg to see how he has changed”

- Do you like living in Houston? Have your favorite places already appeared in the city?

Mark: - We live in the southern state, and there are very different colors compared to gray Yekaterinburg. When we arrived in Houston, it seemed to us that everything here is very bright. The sun always shines in the city, there is a lot of green around, clean and well-groomed. Squirrels run under the windows of our house, and in the evenings a raccoon comes to us. In fact, we live in a village. Only the center is built up with high-rise buildings. The rest of the city is one-story America. I like to walk the streets and view the houses. I also love to visit the zoo in Houston. In it you can see almost all the animals that live on the planet. It's nice to walk there, because, in fact, this is one big park.

- Did you follow the latest events in Yekaterinburg, when city residents opposed the construction of a cathedral in the park near the Drama Theater?

Mark: - Yes, we watched the whole family, watched using video broadcasts. This topic has affected us greatly. I think that in Yekaterinburg there are not so many green places where you can walk, admire nature. Therefore, it would be foolish to change the square to another temple, which in Yekaterinburg is already enough. I would like the residents of Yekaterinburg to have the opportunity to spend more time outdoors. In addition, the square - this is what unites all people now, regardless of what they believe. The cathedral is built only for those who believe.

Mark with mom. Photo: personal archive of the family,

Natalia: - In Yekaterinburg, we lived near the Central Stadium. Previously, there was a green corner nearby. We often went there for a walk. First, with a stroller, and then, when the children became older, they rode there on bicycles. It became a big tragedy for us when we lost this green place. Therefore, we are sadly watching how now the residents of Yekaterinburg are again trying to take away the green spaces.

- It is impossible to imagine such a thing in Houston?

Natalia: - In the US, everything is arranged in such a way that if at least one person opposes building, this question does not even arise. If the society opposes, the authorities will prefer to cancel and reconsider everything than to aggravate the situation inside the country. As a result, a compromise will be found that will suit everyone. Moreover - here any person can take a poster and walk with him to express his protest, and no one will say anything to him, because everyone has the right to his opinion. And, importantly, it will not go unnoticed.

- Do you ever want to return to Russia and Yekaterinburg?

Mark: - Russia is a beautiful country. I want to come back when I become an adult to study it better. I want to return to Yekaterinburg to see how everything has changed while I was gone. Come to the street where I lived, walk to school, meet friends. I also want to visit St. Petersburg again. As a child I spent a few days in this city, and during that time I loved him.

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