Eve's Essays

All About Me
Childhood on a Quiet Street
City Bus
My Fifteen Minutes of TV Fame
Women and Intercultural Marriages
The Principles of Online Dating: How to Recognize a Scammer
My Goals
Free online sources to learn or brush up English.

Eve's Essays II (a new course at the UAF)
Short Essays for Human Relations course

A New Life in a New Country

A few minutes before New Year's 2000 I made a secret wish to change my life. The wish was so strong that it tried to break through my gritted teeth, to jump out of my clenched fists, to escape from my closed eyes. I thought, "Please, I want to change my life!"

I was ready for change. The changes came quickly but I was glad. As a result of the my taking charge of my life, I now live in the US, I am happily married, I have my first work experience in America at Sam's Club (Wal-Mart) and I have started studying at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

I am very grateful to Sam's Club managers Carol and Kelly for their goodwill and patience during my job interview and for creating such a positive environment for success. Work under Denny's leadership really made it a pleasure to work at Sam's. He is a real leader. I learned enthusiasm, ability to organize people, and capacity for work. Sam's has been a fun place to work with positive and energetic co-workers. Getting a job at Sam's I have learned the meaning of the word "success" and emotional influence of the success on the subsequent life. I was sad to quit but working at Sam's I have understood that I needed to go back to school to succeed. I was surprised that going back to school and studying was such a positive and rewarding experience for an over-thirty year old. I have taken pleasure in my success at UAF. After eleven years of work as office worker and administrative assistant with the computer in Russia I studied again document processing and touch-typing, but now in English. Russian visitors of my Web site who like my stories about America and Alaska advised me to write a book. I do not plan to become a writer but I like to express my ideas in words and to share my opinion with others.

These essays are written in my new country, on a language that is new for me. They were written for English Elementary Exposition course at UAF. I love them because I could see how my English is improved from assignment to assignment. I have two great editors--Mary Earp and my husband Bruce. Correcting grammar Mary keeps my ideas intact. Mary teaches me to write and to think in English. The first semester in UAF has brought to me pleasure and has strengthened my sense of success. I know now what means to enjoy each passing day as I find new enjoyment from my education.

I offer these as a window into the world a Russian Woman as she becomes an Alaskan ^top of the page^


All About Me

I was born in Kazakhstan, Southwest of Siberia, in 60th when people in USSR received some drops of freedom after Stalin's tyranny. My first breath of freedom accorded during the time of "Khrushchev's thaw". After that I spent many years seeking for a good place to live in. I arrived to Alaska from Russia in December 2001. My parents and relatives still live in a small town in Kazakhstan. I love them, but after I spent 2 months in Russia and Kazakhstan this summer, I understood that I have found my real home here, many friends, and my "Alaskan diamond"--my husband. I was happy return to Alaska in August!

I have only one pet at home now. I found him at the Fairbanks Animal Shelter. All the family loves and spoils our Miho, a Siamese cat! He is clever, stubborn, and lovely. Our Miho has so much personality!

I do not think I have many hobbies. I love the computer and the Internet. I love our pet and house. I enjoy working in our yard and around the house. I am a volunteer at the Fairbanks Animal Shelter. I like volunteering since I love cats. I wish I could help them in their difficult times when they are home- and loveless.

I applied for a position at the Animal Shelter and other places. I would like to work. But they did not choose me. I think it is because my English still is not good enough. My immediate goal is to improve my English. Then I will think what is better for me and my family become a house wife or to be a busy working woman. ^top of the page^

Narrative: Childhood

Childhood on a Quiet Street

I grew up in a village on the Siberian steppe. People in our village reared pigs, sheep, cows, horses, chickens, geese, and ducks. Each homestead usually had its own garden with vegetables, some kinds of Siberian fruit, and berries. There was a space for animals. Behind the houses of our neighborhood was a large space where the neighbors grew potatoes, corn, and sunflowers. Children were not allowed to play there, but of course, we did as we made our paths through potato patches. Our street was quiet most of time except weekends, holidays, and evenings when everybody came back home from work and school. Children lived in almost every house. I had fun with the children in the neighborhood. But now I remember my silent and quiet games when I was alone.

I was the youngest child in our family. When I was one year old, my sister graduated from High School and left home for the university. Having an older sister is a beneficial experience, but I felt like I had two mothers. My sister lived in a big city; therefore, I had the best toys and clothes among the children in our neighborhood because they did not have the connection to a big city. One of my toys was the most memorable. My sister had brought a monkey for me. Monkey's name was Chitah. It was the cutest toy I had ever seen! My Chitah had a brown plush body with pink hands and feet. Her pink face always smiled. Chitah had soft cheeks like a peach, and when I carried Chitah, she always threw her arms around my neck, hugging me like a real child. Not one doll would be better than my monkey. I used to have many toys and dolls so there were enough of them for my girlfriends. However, I did not want to share my Chitah with anybody in our games. Sometimes the girls became jealous and we had conflicts. My Chitah was friendly with my friends, but she was tough with my enemies. I used Chitah as a weapon in our fights because my monkey had a hard plastic head under her soft plush cover.

I loved to play alone with our pets and my toys. When I was five years old, I decided to not go to kindergarten any more. My mother had to go to work in the early morning. She locked the front door, and I was told to go through the neighbor's potato patches to kindergarten by myself. I walked to the gate in our backyard and stayed behind it until Mom was gone. The house door was locked, but our garden provided me with enough food for the day. I stayed in the garden many times before my teacher told the truth to my Mom. I do not remember what happened when my parents found out that I did not attend kindergarten. However, I do remember how quiet, peaceful, and interesting my days without anybody around me were in the yard and the garden. On those days, only the sun, the sky, the clouds, the wind, and the sounds of life of my village were my playground. Was I happy? I was calm. I felt safe. I was in my own world. I was not bored. That is for sure.

As before, that peace and calmness from my childhood help me to balance myself when my life makes sharp turns. I just close my eyes, place myself in my imagination onto the quiet street of my childhood, and peace is in my heart again. ^top of the page^

Narrative: Family Event

City Bus

I found riding the city bus the way to explore and experience the people and city of Fairbanks. When I came to Fairbanks, I was able to understand directions, streets, and locations only after I rode the city bus. Riding by car is less informative for me; everything moves too fast behind car windows. If I started driving from my first days in Fairbanks, I still would not know the town. Without a bicycle and the city bus, I still would not know the downtown. However, I know the area well because I know each bike path, the streets, each intersection, and the bus stops. The city bus also has a special platform for bicycles. If I am tired, I can change my transport and travel with more comfort on the city bus.

Most of the passengers who usually appreciate the convenience of Macs buses are students, newcomers, and tourists. I should not forget about pensioners and teenagers always using the opportunity of moving throughout the town without the necessity of a driver's license. Elders make the bus atmosphere homelike with their knowledge of everybody, friendly greetings, and cheer. I think old people feel less lonely here. They leave their empty houses and apartments to go into the outside world, meet their friends, and attend worships at church. Riding the bus is important for elders. While on the bus, the older singles can share their joy of a bargain, their children's call, or somebody's gift. The bus gives the feeling of family when people are around others they know.

I think the bus is much safer than cars since driving a car seems hectic to me. Yes, sometimes riding the city bus might be upsetting and uncomfortable too because some passengers bother me with loud music, guffaw, or silly jokes. However, most of the time, I enjoy riding. Bus drivers in Fairbanks work on their routes for many years. They know almost everybody and always meet me with a friendly "Good morning" and ask how my family, school or work are going; when I get off the bus, the driver wishes me "Good day." My ride on the bus is a nice start for a long day.

I like the way each line has its own color, so I plan my day in colors. My morning starts with the green color. If I am planning to go to the UAF, I have to catch the Red line. If my way is going to Sam's, that means my color is purple. Shopping at Fred's will take me away with the Blue line, and the Animal Shelter has a yellow color. Are not the colors a cool way to find my way around town?

I like reading but do not have time for reading at home. The city bus gives me the opportunity to read. In addition people are interesting objects of study for me. I am curious about their lives. Asking about their lives is not necessary. I try to guess what kind of person sits next to me and what mode of life he or she has in the world. I can watch people, darting my glances, listening to their stories, and sharing with everybody aboard. I am never bored when I am on the bus because my trips are relaxing and interesting. I observe streets, I watch people, I read, and I listen. Riding a bus is like a movie but with real life and live people in it. Two years experience of riding the city bus has brought to me much more information about Fairbanks, Alaskans, America, and everyday life than I could get before from magazines, television, or the news. ^top of the page^


My Fifteen Minutes of TV Fame

When I lived in Russia, I liked watching a TV show named "My Family." Guests in tears on the show started sharing their stories, but in the end, they usually found support and advice. The show always included famous poets, writers, artists, actors, musicians and singers. How many of us have been on television? I thought that only the lucky and special ones can receive an invitation for guest participation on a famous, popular TV show.

On one difficult day three years ago, I needed to release my emotions and vented them into a TV show's recording machine. The frantic call went unreturned, so I forgot about it--almost. Did I want to be a participant? Many of us think that such programs are silly, crazy, or not a serious way for respectable adults to act. If the show will describe us as an example of success in life, most people accept that experience. However, if our experience on the show exposes our faults and mistakes people do not appreciate the unpleasantness. To open up in front of the camera is difficult. Not everybody wants to share some moments of his or her private life with the public. I knew that popularity flies away too fast when people dream about becoming famous through a show. I did not want to be famous, but I put together an idea!

Yes, I still think as I thought three years ago when the producer of the show "My Family" called me and invited to share my life story on their program with the theme "The Love and The Money." I liked to listen and to watch somebody else, but I did not want to be in the center of attention and gossip. The producers were not going to show me as a clever, energetic, lucky woman. The producer wanted me to share my experience of a boyfriend who had to choose between two women. The boyfriend gave up our plans about marriage and chose the unloved but rich woman.

To decide between the plus and minuses of the invitation took me two months. In the meantime my growing son complained about our boring, poor life. I did not like my life either. I needed some fresh ideas and a new experience in order to make new plans for our future. The show promised to cover expenses for the travel and a hotel in Moscow for the two of us. We would stay at a famous Bohemians hotel, "Ostankino"! During our visit I would be able to show the capitol to my son, and we would see how television shows are made from the inside! I could meet my Moscow relatives whom we did not know well! However, when I imagined myself before thousands of people with the star of the show asking me questions about the secrecy of my private life… That thought depressed me! Here was the big minus for me.

The date of the shooting came quickly. After arriving in Moscow, my son and I were surrounded by relatives. I did not get a chance to talk about the reserved hotel for us between my cousin, nephew, and niece's kisses, hugs, and exclamations. Both of we were welcome visitors at the houses of our relatives. An invitation call for them from the show surprised my relatives very much. When we went to the Studio on Shabolovka, many women wore fancy outfits, evening make-up, and attractive jewelry. Guests and participants were animated, exited, and nervous, which stood out in their shiny eyes, excited voices, and busy gestures. The building included many doors and corridors to other studios from which were heard voices of famous TV stars and musical tunes of popular TV programs. Every time somebody well known walked through the doorways, the crowd delightedly breathed out "Ah-h" and started chatting loudly. Stars were very reachable and lived within the walls of the building!

During the time we waited, a five year old girl showered her adoration on my seven year old son. The mother of the girl was busy in the studio leading her wonderful program "The Health." I lost the ability to speak when my idol, the beautiful woman, thanked us for taking care of her energetic daughter who was bored with the busy and serious adults in the studio. In a few moments, the children became familiar with each other and cheerfully played like two rockets making their swift, noisy orbits through the halls, doorways, and stairs of the huge building.

Before the show, the assistants organized this uncontrollable crowd; between all the surprises and rapture, everybody had to work. Assistants instructed guests about their behavior in front of the cameras. Professional make-up artists put make-up on everyone's face. I hardly recognized myself in the mirror, but it was part of the play. Studio workers transformed a large and empty room into a cozy studio with street theme fabrics hung up along the side walls. They situated many chairs for spectators and cheering supporters in a round circle on the stage. At the front, a podium area was decorated as a living room with small tables and chairs for guests.

The start signal rang. The people occupied their places as required by the fleet of efficient assistants. Many bright, hot lights suddenly came on; all cameras turned their barrels toward the tables with guests. My hands were wet and shaking; I could not stop my body trembling. Then I calmed down and I became interested in the first stories and discussions. When the TV show star pronounced my name, all symptoms of my agitation returned, but soon his introduction made me laugh. The assistant had typed the wrong story under my name. Watching his face become more dismayed was funny and relaxing. His surprised glances, from me to his papers, went back and forth as I told of my story. He let me finish without stopping the shooting for a new double. The program runs on television thirty minutes, but we spent more than three hours in the studio because extra doubles. Most of the time was spent repeating advertisements forgotten or misread by the star and breaks for the make-up artist's work, after which the face and hair of the star became more and more doll like. I ended my story with the support of women and angry expressions on men's faces in the audience. Nothing mattered very much after all the excitement, impressions, humor, and tiredness of this adventure. Then came four magical days in Moscow; my son and I spent the days visiting relatives, seeing sights, such as the Zoo, and well known historical streets and squares.

Since returning home, my son has never complained about life. He became a popular "cool" guy whose face the TV show inserted into a few other programs running later. Everyone at school got to know him; the children asked him to share his impressions of Moscow, and the TV world. He proudly pointed at the blue lump on his forehead left after hide-and-seek in the Studio on Shabolovka with the star's daughter as one more souvenir he has brought back from Moscow. My relations with him are warmer and more trustful. He needed the support of a strong man, but after this adventure, his mother became a hero in his eyes. That show was one of my value profits. People on the street told me that I look like a woman from TV. Only colleagues, neighbors, and friends knew that the person was I. This program did not bring me the popularity that my son enjoyed. Popularity was not my goal, so it is not important for me. Usually I was tightly trapped in my daily burden of work, raising a son and doing my chores. I was too shy to do something uncommon and was censured by my surroundings. I had four days far away from this prison. I needed the extremely crazy action that some of my friends described as my participation in the show. When I appeared on TV my fears were broken. That experience made me bold enough to dream and to make decisions. My goal was to totally change my small family's life. I found the way, the strength to change my mind, and my mode of life.

The fifteen minutes of fame brought to me the courage to change my life. I now have the family of my dream; I live in a different country; I speak a new language; I learn many new ways to see the world about me. ^top of the page^


Women and Intercultural Marriages

Most women want to be married; that belief is an axiom. From early childhood, girls play the role of mothers with dolls while boys play with trucks and guns. Their games allow children to act out adult roles. Young women look to their parents to learn how to go about dating and finding someone to marry. Women usually marry someone they have met through work or school or a friend. My family's example, however, was one of the reasons why I was a single woman and a single mother for a long time. Watching my mother and father, I asked myself, "Can I do better?" My answer was "Yes."

My mother was a strong woman. She showed me an example of the prototypical Russian woman. She grew up with old fashioned values. Her marriage vows, "I will be with you for better or worse, 'till death do us part," were her life. My mother could not imagine that she could alter her husband's terrible behavior towards her. I could. I could not see myself in a subservient role because I am a woman in my husband's eyes. A family for me is a partnership between two equal people. Each brings his or her strengths to their union by supporting each other and creating a greater whole.

My mother was the strong stoic ideal of the Russian motherland, but alas, so was my father. In my country I met only men who saw women through the same eyes as my father. I believed there were different men; however, I did not meet anyone who was available. Thus, I started my search abroad. I had a clear vision of the type of person with whom I wanted to share my entire life. My quest took years, but the clearness of my desire helped me when I had to choose a man from a photo glimpsed at a marriage agency.

Over the last ten years, I have seen more and more Eastern woman move to the West. Old-fashioned dating involved only a few people. Modern people are too busy to date the classical way since the role of parents, churches, and neighborhood matchmakers have greatly diminished. The Internet era ignores distance, borders, and customs. Today, the Internet makes cross-cultural marriages easier. People from different countries meet each other, women and men fall in love, and then magically, they are married. The magic of Internet romance works best when each has a clear vision of that certain someone that will make life complete. All that is lacking is a poet who will compose an ode in honor of love via the Internet. Since many Russian women start their search for a foreign husband, they must be prepared for the problems that intercultural families face.

I think it is a myth, falsehood, that Eastern European women seek traditional marriage more than their Western counterparts. Yes, Western women build careers, are financially independent, and the speed and rhythm of their modern lives create a conflict between Western women's natural wishes and reality. The conflict makes Western women more self-centered, cautious, and independent when dating and considering marriage. They have a choice, so they do not hurry into marriage.

In fact, Russia and many countries of the world face a deficit of marriageable men, ages thirty five and over. Wars, conflicts, bad habits, alcoholism, and the stress of life in these poor countries with unstable economics cause health problems and early deaths. The deficit of men may cause their bad attitude towards women, but women can simply go on the Internet and look for men abroad. In Alaska men outnumber women, but the men must find women willing to live in Alaska. Thus Alaska has the higher percent of cross-country marriages.

Marrying someone is wonderful and a struggle at the same time; a contract for life is a big challenge! Nobody is insured from mistakes; however, there are many ways of avoiding faults. One of the ways is knowledge of each person's differences, preparing for them, and adaptation to difficulties. Russian women must face these challenges when marrying Alaskan men. However, the problems between "spouses-foreigners" and "spouses-citizens" may not be so unlike. As a fiancee of a foreign man, a woman should be aware of some human basics.

Marriage is neither a rush nor a compromise; a reasoned decision, based on love, lends to an eternal commitment. If spouses want to make their marriages successful, no matter where the people they marry are from or what their backgrounds are, marriage also requires partners to be willing to compromise in all kinds of situations. For me, the word "compromise" has taken on a whole new meaning in my life with my American husband. Simple everyday actions have become situations to observe and make decisions about that I had never thought would matter on a day-to-day basis. The constant compromise makes me less selfish, less stubborn, and more open minded like my husband.

Intercultural marriage is more complicated because each partner comes equipped with a complete set of rules such as daily habits, interesting viewpoints, and different values. Each person has different ways of relating to others and different strategies for negotiating differences. Deciding on whose rules to use can be complicated and cause misunderstandings or conflicts, especially for two people who love each other. My husband claims, "When I do not understand my wife's desires, I have an excuse; I do not speak her language."

Marrying a foreigner is difficult in many ways. First, the language barrier must be overcome. Learning each other's language adds to the relationship. Yes, I have heard about men who discourage their wives from learning English so as to increase her dependence on them. Also, some women expect life in America to be a dream without any work. Not knowing the language is like having a beautiful book, which one loves and cherishes but cannot read. Learning and knowing the language helps spouses to know each another more completely.

In my experience, most women who leave Russia for marriage abroad are energetic and educated. They are not just floating down the river of life; the women are navigating their way. In Russia, they were doctors, teachers, engineers, managers, office administrators, or parallel small business owners. Some American husbands wanted their wives to be stay-at-home spouses, but professional women may not feel independent if they used to work for a living in their country. They may feel that their new life is in someone else's hands, not their own, and they are not equal partners to their husbands.

Many women observe a culture shock or psychological disorientation similar to that experienced by people living in a foreign country. Their adjustment is more severe and comprehensive because, for these women, there is no "going home." A wife-emigrant has to be prepared for the experience of living in another country and interacting with its people. A new lifestyle, even if it is positive, can be stressful. Nostalgia or home-sickness is a usual guest in a woman's heart. I receive many letters of Russian women who have immigrated to different countries. They still call Russia "home" and miss their homeland very much, even though they are happily married. This condition does not apply to me, thanks to the Internet, since being far away does not mean I am out of touch with my old friends or relatives.

Ups and downs are normal in people's lives, but in interethnic marriages tension sometimes indicates a tear in the fabric of the family. Misunderstanding or divorce in a usual family makes everybody unhappy, but for foreign women, they cannot simply go back and their separation might crush their lives. Understanding the possible consequences, Eastern women work hard to keep their union much harder than Western women and, so, perhaps, intercultural marriages are more stable.

As men and women learn about the distinctions and problems of interethnic families, they find that many of their initial perceptions of their future wives or husbands were wrong. Men have to get rid of the idea that Eastern women are more submissive, subordinate, and serene than American women. Expecting foreign wives to behave like exotic Asian dolls is a mistake; they are more like the Russian doll, "Matryoshka," layered in complexities. Both partners have significant adjustments to make in an interracial marriage.

Prospective brides should evaluate just how tough and adaptable they can be before making their commitment. Moving to the USA is not as luxurious and happy as they see in movies. Many Russian women make this discovery only after immigration. Marrying just to escape from one's own country is a drastic mistake. Some people marry out of their own race or culture because they want to make a statement about social equality or some shared cause. Others marry the first person available in the hope that they can escape from preexisting problems, unhappy homes, feelings of insecurity and loneliness, revenge, repudiation, and so on. People in this category should be convinced to take their time before marrying, and they generally should be referred to a professional counselor who can help them reassess the meaning of marriage as well as explore possible neurotic attitudes. A neurotic marriage can only bring grief to all parties involved. Well adjusted commitment will bring happiness to any marriage.

I realize that married life in America is not about great wealth or fancy belongings; it is life just like life anywhere else. Marriage is about the work we put into building our relationship into a permanent love affair, which takes work. I had to learn to leave behind the typical Russian attitude that finds fault in everything and everyone. I remember all too well the exchanges of greetings and idle chatter -- and how it was filled with the negative. "Oh, my husband is so demanding." "Ah, but mine has lost all his hair and is no longer beautiful." Yes, seeing the faults in everyone around us is so easy, but it is not American. Idle chatter does not breed success; perhaps that outlook is the long term effect of a social structure that wanted to control every piece of a person's life. Life is so much more interesting when one has the security to see what is good about what one has and to be able to plan for the future with hope a certainty.

One more factor makes an intercultural marriage more interesting. Since cultural differences invade every aspect of life. Amazingly, two cultures can have much in common and yet be so very different at the same time. Moreover, an intercultural marriage is like a window opened into a different world. Discovering the new world is easier because the spouses act as a guide though everyday life. This mix of different cultures, traditions, and modes of life makes a family's existence more interesting. My husband has the opportunity to learn more about Russia, not only as a tourist, but as a member of my family, in the circle of my relatives.

My mother kept the family together, not because of her relationship with my father, but because she saw that he treated me and my sister as his children. Yes, my mother was always in front of me when he wanted to punish me. But it was a family. My mother knew that it was better than no family at all, or how could she do for us while working all day and raising us alone. Consequently, I owe much to my father, far more to my mother, but his role drove me to seek my future abroad.

Marrying someone from another culture can be exciting but also very trying. I only knew men like my father. Learning to relate to a man who asks for my opinion will take some time.

In my assignment I used ideas and information from books including: "Wedded Strangers. The Challenges of Russian-American Marriages" written by Lynn Visson, "Intercultural Marriage. Promises and Pitfalls" by Dugan Romano, "From Nyet to Da. Understanding the Russians" by Yale Richmond, "The Rules for Online Dating" by Ellen Fein and Sherrie Schneider; from websites about and of intercultural families, and, of course, my own experience. ^top of the page^


The Principles of Online Dating: How to Recognize a Scammer

A man, looking at the skies, cries: "O, God, I need money so much, please let me win the lottery," a second and again, a third time, the man asks God to let him win the lottery. After the third request, a voice from the sky says: "Buy a ticket, idiot!" (old Russian joke.)

Internet dating is one ticket to life's lottery.

Love, Internet Style by David Brooks, The New York Times:

"... now forty million Americans look at online dating sites each month, and we are seeing a revolution in the way people meet and court one another. About a fifth of online daters are married men. Whatever else has changed, men are more likely to be predators looking for sex, while women try to hold back. The online dating world is superficially cynical."

Yes a woman or a man, looking for a soul-mate through the Internet, can become frustrated easily, especially when a sought for is from a different country. People can say anything about themselves on the Internet, but someone, who is serious, can invest the time and thought to sort through the posted profiles of seeking partners. Trusting an inner voice is important, but one should trust people and let them verify their words. Recovering from a personal mistake is painful, but finding someone to trust is delightful.

In fact, the Internet world is only a reflection of real life. The digital life has rules that are similar to the world's analog rules. From early childhood, parents teach their children how to behave outside the home, how to communicate with others, and how to relate to people. Parents model examples of behavior and responsibilities for an improved existence for their children. They teach principles such as politeness, honesty, fairness, carefulness, trustworthiness, and respectfulness. Parents teach their children to trust people, to treat others as they want to be treated, and to think before making decisions that will affect their lives.

Nevertheless, in adulthood, each person revises the principles and chooses categories that reply to his or her conceptions. Different people bring their own ethics to the virtual romance. Cyberspace relations can be as moral as the people involved in them are, neither less nor more. Consequently, internet relationships are at least as powerful as relationships that begin face-to-face. However, many people are better at revealing their true selves through the keyboard than through conversation because the computer screen removes their usual inhibitions.

According to the Immigration and Naturalization Service, between four to six thousand American men and foreign women marry each year in the United States. The overwhelming majority that seeks the services of International Marriage Brokers are men. According to other sources, eighty percent of the men, seeking potential wives in Russia, are American.

Russian women play a notably modest role in the politics of their patriarchal Motherland. In everyday existence, however, Russian women must be both wives and family providers. They become well skilled in making day-to-day decisions. If domestic marriage does not work or the women are unable to find suitable partners in Russia, they turn their eyes to the West and advertise on the Internet for partners abroad. Russian women believe that Russian men are now the "weaker gender," they also believe that only western men are strong enough to support a family. Russian women seek sober men who know the meaning of being a man-responsibility, support, and strength. If not careful, Russian women will find many of the same men on the Internet as the women try to escape from in their country.

The vast majority of internet courtships between American men and Russian women work similar to other courtships. If men and women date but they discover their interests or pace of life are incompatible, they stop dating. Since these circumstances between two Americans are commonplace, their stories will not have significant resonance. The men would not think that they were "scammed." However, if such a breakdown happens in a virtual relationship between an American man and a foreign woman, the man can conclude he fell victim to an "immigration scam" and go on to complain on the Internet or to his friends about "grasping Russian women."

"Scam," according Encyclopedia Britannica, is "a fraudulent or deceptive act or operation." This word was rarely used a few years ago, but now "scam" is used frequently in reference to intercultural introductions and even marriages. Thanks to Encyclopedia Britannica, I can now draw a picture of a real scammer.

When I went to Google to find additional information for this assignment, I typed in the keywords, "Russian women, dating, and scam." Then I received a very long list with dozens of websites named differently but with the same theme--a black list of Russian woman scamming in the Internet. I read letters from American men accusing women of being "scammers," and I read women's letters provided by the men. I read for hours. My new view of matchmaking on the Internet made me to change my topic. I cannot ignore the media comments about Russian women when reporters call them "money hunters" and "scammers." I want to enlighten the views that are left in the shade, so I am not going to write about con women. They exist in cyber space as well as in real life. I am concerned about men who are not described well in media releases, even though they play the initial role in international dating.

I am not going to write about con marriage agencies or matchmaking services. They are the most guilty; however, because they are advertising hundreds of false profiles on dating websites, writing false letters to men, and asking about money using names of innocent women. I am not going to write about men who send money to their unmet "girlfriends" and then complain about them not arriving on the set day. These situations are cases for the police and FBI. The process of arresting the real scammers has started in the United States. The following is an example of the use of the Internet to scam innocent victims:

Division Internet Dating Scam Dismantled. On May 13, 2003, FBI arrested Robert L. McCoy and his wife Anna V. Grountovaia on charges of Conspiracy and Wire Fraud. Their arrest was pursuant to an indictment filed by a Federal Grand Jury for operating a fraudulent Russian dating scheme via the Internet.

McCoy and Grountavaia posed as Russian women under various names and posted on-line ads seeking a serious relationship with men. At times, McCoy and Grountavaia would also respond to on-line ads of other men in order to induce them into developing on-line relationships. After the initial contact was established, McCoy and Grountavaia would then send e-mails and contact the victims by telephone to entice the victims into wiring monies to Russia.

In these communications, the indictment alleges that McCoy and Grountavaia, posing as a Russian woman, would claim to belong to an 'agency' that could help facilitate a visit to the victim's home country. Under the guise of this Russian agency, the indictment further alleges that McCoy and Grountavaia sent additional e-mails to the victims, instructing them to wire sums ranging from $1,790 to $1,850, so the agency could process flight arrangements, obtain visas, and secure placements for the Russian woman in student exchange programs. After the victims wired the money, believing the Russian woman would soon arrive, McCoy and Grountavaia would then cease all contact with the victims. (FBI San Diego, California).

Even though the police said the first word, names and faces of dozens of innocent women are still falsely blacklisted on the Internet. Pity the poor women whose profiles are copied from respectable dating sites or marriage agencies and used by con artists. Proving their innocence and cleaning up their respectability on the Internet is almost impossible after somebody places their names and photos on one of those blacklists.

Life is not fair. Going through the blacklists, I saw women's letters that were inoffensive, yet angry men placed the women on a blacklist for revenge. I read the men's letters that were unsubstantiated, and they were the real scam.

Women must realize that cyber space inhabitants are different. Some of the men make me nervous by their disrespectful behavior. As an example, one frequently seen in the Internet kind of men I would name "overcautious." Seeking a foreign wife, some men fear being "scammed" or deceived. They are not sure in anything and do not trust anyone. "Overcautious" men imagine their money and personal security are in danger. They are so concerned about being scammed that they are unwilling to pay the cost of the ticket. Too often, the men visit dating websites, write letters to women, but break the conversation too soon. Each word in a woman's answer is read with scrupulous cautiousness. If these men find words like "money," "wish to see America," she "cannot afford something," the men automatically label her as a "scammer."

A particularly unfair backlash can occur when men scam women. These men have also posted web pages "blacklisting" women. Their scam is soliciting money for the lists of women that they claim are "scammers." If one reads the indictments written by these men, their true intentions as scammers are clear! These men accuse others of the very act that they are most guilty of themselves.

As a result of the rising interest in online dating, the Internet now overflows with websites featuring Russian women who are looking for long-term relationships. Owners of the agencies and managers of the websites describe the women as idealistic wives and women with very modest requirements. The popularity of wives from Russia peaked in nineties, but the interest in Internet dating has been slowing down. People found out that Internet conversation is not a panacea for loneness. Meeting and exchanging letters with somebody in chat rooms creates many mistakes, misunderstandings, and faults. When the number of men disappointed with online dating increased, the Internet provided them with an opportunity to blacklist Russian women. Black lists warn men to do nothing before their agents check a women's background, for a fee, of course. Many of the black lists are website pages that increase their earnings. International marriage brokers lose money on dating pages, but make money blacklisting other women. The blacklists are also scam.

Checking Russian women's criminal background is a fake play because there are no Russian Internet scam laws to break. That record is expected to be clean except for small and not serious discrepancies such as a different address or phone number than the man received possibly because the woman has been registered at parent's apartment but resides in a rented one or the woman is divorced but wrote in her profile "single." The real crime sits in the heads of those who seek to buy love; a detective could not find that type of love. If an old man wants to send money to buy the love of a young girl, he is more than a fool--he is also wrong. This scenario has the same ground as bribes--both are guilty--the one who gives a bribe and the one who takes the bribe. Consequently, paying a detective is easier but not a better way of finding out who the man is dating.

Virtual dating has advantages and disadvantages, but it is not a venture without risks. Perhaps, Internet dating is a little better than going on a traditional "blind date." Consequently, if somebody goes into a relationship with thoughts of "what if it will not work out?" how can he or she develop a commitment? The Internet is overflows with men who are dishonorable men and even dangerous men. These men who are either bored at work, married with a wife and children, and write about love from the first letter to young and naive girls; all the men are just cruising online, wasting women's time and hope. Telling the real men from the fakes can be difficult. All these men such as time-wasters, players, sex addicts, married men looking for a little action on the side, men happy in a solo relationship with themselves, men that take out their anger at women in general are widely presented in the Internet and seek women's attention. Divorced or never-married men fall into a trap of using online dating to deal with loneliness, vent anger, air dirty laundry, and cry about misfortunes. They are the real scammers. Sadly, they do not know what they want, and they do not know their own minds.

Blacklisters try to accuse women of taking money, but they are really complaining because they are too cheap to cover the costs of an internet romance. They are trying to go "Dutch" in an internet relationship where the high value of the dollar makes it less expensive to pay for the translation costs than the cost of flowers and a traditional dinner at a simple restaurant. An old principle says that men cannot go "Dutch" in any serious relationship, whether online or in person. Men who do not pay for a relationship are demonstrating that they will not prove to be good providers, they will not be good husbands, they are the dregs of society, as they look perhaps for a mother--not a wife and family. American women do not choose this kind of infantile man, but his marriage to a foreign woman is not going to work either because the wife-immigrant will not be able to work legally for the first two years. The men are not able be a family's sole provider. Going "Dutch" into dating for men is as unethical as buying love. Important finding the gold middle is important-how to trust and respect a woman met online, how to cover expenses for correspondence, and how to help the woman. If romance becomes intimate the man must know how not to make her fill as if she is purchased. Only seriousness and thoughtfulness help to find the right way and attitude.

Men who do not take their conversation seriously with their online girlfriends are scammers too; they are deceiving themselves. Unsurprisingly no respectable women meeting them in person would have anything to do with such men. A man should be ready to explain his motives. "By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail." (Benjamin Franklin). First, he must find answers for himself: Why a foreign woman? Why not from the same country? "Some men still believe they can point their finger at any woman (on website) and she must marry him because he paid for her address." (Elena Petrova, Russian Brides Cyber Guide). If a man's predominant motive for marrying is to find a cheap servant, he is a scammer in real life.

If a man is looking for a life partner, not a brainless doll, he has to be ready to search for years. Yes, in cyber space, some women are looking for cash money, not a long term serious relationship. Some women are too quick to say, "Yes," without really knowing to whom they are writing. In the online world, a screening process should start with the first letters.

Dating online is not therapy. Nevertheless, many men and women use chat rooms to solve personal problems. They should see a therapist, find a support group, or confide in good friends. Instead, they sometimes cast for an online pal with hope of finding a savior. Unfortunately, their ads will not have a sign that says, "Caution! Stay away!"

Faces and ads that appear on the computer screen might be false, but behind the ad is a real person. Many problems and mistakes could be prevented if people dating online were more realistic and did not let their fantasy draw a picture of what they wanted instead of what was really there. A person wandering through the Internet must find a real face and decide how close the individual is to his or her ideal.

Although the face of the online dating world looks strange and cynical, human rules and principles still dominate. One should be careful, but keep trying; the winning ticket for the life's lottery may be on next page. ^top of the page^

Definition: Goals Past, Present, Future

My Goals

Everybody makes plans or has goals. Even a baby has a goal that is very simple as reaching for a toy, getting attention, or doing something new. My earliest goals and dreams were not strong enough, so they expired with my childhood.

When I was five, I wanted a place where homeless and unwanted pets could find a temporary home. I had never heard about animal shelters abroad until the late nineties and my country did not have them until now. Since my mother told me that our house cannot hold all the pets I brought in from the streets, I dreamed about a cozy, warm building with enough space and food for each pet. A little later I read The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, "We are answerable for those we tamed." I felt I was responsible, but I was too small. I wanted to grow up and make my dream true.

In elementary school, I wanted to be a teacher in front of class. At age eighteen, I went to a pedagogical institute. After awhile at the institute, I understood that my childhood's dream was about being in the center of attention but not about teaching and working with children. I wanted to be loved by the people around me and be beautiful and rich. I still want wealth and I will work on my dreams.

As a teenager, I wanted to attend a motorcycling club because it was a chance to start independent driving. Many teenagers wanted to be motorcyclists, so the administration of the club decided that everybody had to start at skydiving class (that seemed strange to me--what is in common between skydiving and motorcycling?). Only after practice in skydiving their move to motorcycling class was possible. I gave up because I did not like small airplanes and the feeling of falling.

I did not dream about becaming a doctor because our family already had three doctors. I knew how difficult and sometimes not pleasant this job might be for me. But I dreamed about the magic power in my hands that will help people to recover from illness or pain with only a simple touch. In the eighties, there in my country were many-many therapists who promised to relieve illness and pain with one touch or even on distance with thought or word. People made lines in front of those clinics, paid money to the therapists in hope to find fast and easy way to health. I do not believe in this miracle today. If solving people's health problems is such an easy task for modern therapists, why do we still have so many sick people?

Nevertheless, I believe to Christ's power to help people with only word. Some pain or bad feeling might be cured with kindness. I remember a woman crying on a bench in front of her house. With others I walked by, but I thought that I should stop and ask her if I could help. However, I remembered Saint-Exupery's words, so I was afraid if I give her a hope but I could not help. I walked past minding my business. A few days later the woman killed herself. If I stopped, if I asked, if I talked to her, she might be alive and her two children were not orphans.

The experience of feeling guilty because I saw somebody's problem but did not try to help was a tough lesson for me that I learned for future. Our life sometimes depends on a sound which may be very quiet; the sound is a word. A kind word can be very powerful; a word might help or might save a life but angry word or silent ignorance might kill. We have the ability to help people find the solution to their problems by finding the word they need to hear. We can cure people's problems with only one touch or one word if we will not be ignorant to their pain. My childhood dream came halfway true.

My present goal is simple and modest. I would like to learn as much as I can to help me find a job. I want a job that will provide additional family income, cover medical expenses, and provide a retirement plan. I want to live and work with enjoyment and self improvement. Next summer plan is extending our house that needs the money, time, and energy of all our family. It is my goal, my dream, and my plan.

My son's better future is my goal for many years ahead. I have to help him to receive an education and to find his place in life. I have to be not an importunate hen-trustee for him, but friendly guide with the words he needs to find his goal in his life.

I tried many possessions, I realized goals from my childhood, I gave up some dreams that I found not useful in adulthood. I do not dream much about future, but I have plans. A better education is my plan for the next five years. I want to improve my knowledge of the English language enough to understand everything as an English speaking person. I know it is possible, but my dream will take time and afford. My goal is to build on what I have achieved these past two years.

As a baby tries to reach a bright and attractive toy adults try to reach their dreams too. I have so much now that I dream less, I make plans. However, life is what happens while I am making plans. ^top of the page^

Eve's Essays II (a new course at the UAF)
Short Essays for Human Relations course

Free online sources to learn or brush up English

ESLgold provides hundreds of pages of free English teaching and learning materials for both students and teachers.

www.wordskills.com Test your level of English here.

Mary Earp - Assistant Professor/Developmental English and my teacher at UAF created the Web site Sentence Tools for English Classes.

Mary Ellen Guffey Books Support.

Diana Hacker's handbooks are popular because they work as references that students can and do use on their own(You need the Shockwave plug-in to run the exercises. Click to "Download Shockwave," it is free).

University of Ottawa Hypergrammar and English writing resources.

Capital Community College The Guide to Grammar and Writing.

Murdoch University A Guide to Writing Essays.

Purdue's Online Writing Lab.

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