Russian teen wraps up work in Kingman

KINGMAN ­ Anna Cherednikova will have a unique cultural experience to share with her family and friends later this week when she returns home to Voronezh, Russia.

She has just wrapped up four months in Kingman in which she participated in the "Work Experience USA" program. It is a global program offering young people in Eastern Europe the chance to live and work in other countries and is operated by Camp Counselors USA, which is based in Sausalito, Calif.

"When I got here (in late May) I told everyone I am a spoiled Russian girl who has never worked before," Cherednikova said jokingly. "No chance ­ it's study, study, study (in Russia)."

Cherednikova, 19, completed her elementary education (grades 1-11) and has attended Voronezh State University for the past two years. She has three years to go and is studying linguistics in hopes of one day teaching Russian literature and language outside of her homeland.

Voronezh has about one million residents and is located about 350 miles south of Moscow, she said.

During her time in Kingman, she stayed with Red and Jo Albin. Their daughter, Amy, 28, taught English to Russian children ages 5-14 in an after-school setting during the winter and spring of 2002 and she stayed with Cherednikova's family.

Amy participated in an international language program sponsored by the Mormon Church in Salt Lake City, Red Albin said.

Cherednikova worked at Cracker Barrel restaurant for 3-1/2 months of her stay here. She spent three days training under veteran server Connie Joy before working without supervision.

"Anna was fantastic," Joy said. "She has the very highest integrity, was very socially conscious of our guests' needs, was courteous at all times, and had a lot of fun spirit.

"We hope she comes back next year."

She became so adept and popular that a co-worker asked her if they teach waitressing at her university, Cherednikova said.

"At first, I found it hard to meet and talk to people," she said. "That's just not part of our culture.

"But I had a really nice experience and made a lot of new friends."

She worked 35-40 hours per week with occasional overtime. There were days when she stayed until midnight and was exhausted, but a good night's sleep brought her back ready to go the next day.

Cherednikova found beef steaks to her liking as a new taste experience. But Mexican-American food became her favorite.

"When she first got here, she tasted tartar sauce for the first time in her life," Red Albin said. "She put it on bread and made a sandwich out of it."

Cherednikova also had ample sightseeing adventures during her Kingman stay.

She visited the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas, Hoover Dam, Los Angeles, Disneyland and Laughlin, Nev.

Lake Mohave became one of her favorite spots. Its water is clear and a perfect place to swim and dive, Cherednikova said.

Her trip to America was made possible through her university studies.

It also enabled her to spend one month in Spain last winter to augment her Spanish studies in Barcelona and the eastern portion of the country.

She expressed an interest in returning to Spain one day to teach.

Cherednikova found little time to work at home.

She typically spends up to eight hours per day in classes and up to five hours per night studying and doing "lots of homework."

Her father owns a water treatment business and her mother helps in it. Cherednikova's immediate family includes a 17-year-old sister, Natalia.

Cherednikova plans to fly to Russia from Las Vegas on Wednesday night. She said she will miss her host family and co-workers at Cracker Barrel, but plans to stay in touch with everyone by e-mail.