International Student Follows His Ambitions

CHUCK REYES
El Vaquero Staff Writer

International students face many arduous challenges when they move to a foreign country. Most often, they come here alone, fueled by sheer determination, the desire to succeed in the pursuit of their dreams. These students stalwartly fend for themselves in an unfamiliar country where English is probably not their first language.

GCC has seen international students persevere and succeed. The school is a home for international students who have worked endlessly, who have reaped the rewards of their perseverance. There have been students who come to GCC to pursue their dreams. Then, there are international students who just want to make a difference, and plan to do so through relentless ambition. One of these students is Yury Lisenkov, who last month was a candidate running for Associated Student President.

Lisenkov, 20, moved from his home in Moscow, Russia, with an aspiration to live and study in the United States. ?I just wanted to have some kind of special experience. I like America, I think it?s a really free country,? he said with a thick Moscow accent.

He came first to America when he was 10 years old, but didn?t return until 2003 on an stuendt exchange program. It was then that Lisenkov decided that he would like to pursue an education in the United States. ?I really liked it [America], and I wanted to continue [studying] here,? he said.

With a compact frame and a short, shaggy haircut, Lisenkov doesn?t like the type to hop a plane to the United States all on his own, with little knowledge of the English language, but that?s exactly what he did. ?I?ve been in America for two years,? he said, ?and went to two language schools in California, one in Whittier, and one in Glendora.?
Last fall, Lisenkov enrolled at GCC. While he enjoys the school, he found things tough at first. At first, it was difficult ?because of the language barrier. My English is not perfect,? said Lisenkov.

With Lisenkov?s vibrant personality, however, this difficulty did not last long. ?At first I experience homesickness, and all of that stuff, but not anymore. Right now, we?re like a family here in Glendale,? he said. ?I like our friendly international society.?

As he neared the end of his second semester at GCC, Lisenkov felt that he was finally ready for his most ambitious aspiration yet: running ASGCC President. In the past few weeks, Lisenkov was on an unwavering crusade to promote his candidacy giving out endless fliers and constantly shouting ?Vote number four!? to passersby.

?It?s really interesting, it?s kind of a stressful job,? said Lisenkov his campaigning. ?We made six posters and thousands of fliers.? The campaign, he said, has also forced him out of his shell. ?I became a social animal; I?ve talked with at least a thousand people in the last 10 days. It?s kind of stressful.?

?He has a very interesting personality,? said friend and campaign manager Ricardo Garcia, 20. ?He?s very committed. If he has a goal, he will do anything to achieve it.? Garcia worked with Lisenkov on his campaign advertisements, making fliers and posters the weekend before voting week.

Lisenkov campaigned with confidence, despite the whispers of his lack of qualifications. He believed he was a perfect candidate for president, ?I used to president of my class in high school for three years,? he said. ?I?ve been at GCC for one year, I?ve made a lot of friends. I have experience. Huge experience.?

During campaign week, nothing preoccupied Lisenkov?s mind more than his campaign; handing out fliers, talking to students, and more shouts of ?Vote number four!? By the end of campaigning, however, Lisenkov did not come out the winner.

He did come out of it gaining precious skills. ?I felt like I learned how to I felt that I learned how to communicate with people,? he said. His only regret was that he felt he didn?t ?didn?t talk to international students.? Lisenkov also will not let the loss hamper his goals. ?Right now, almost everybody knows who I am,? he said. ?Next time, when I run again, I will run for vice-president, then president.?
Lisenkov leaves one piece of advice to other international students pursuing their ambitions: ?Never give up. They can experience some difficulties because their home is really far, but they can make it.?