JEFFERSON TOWNSHIP — Melinda Lastyak is a senior in the graphic communications program at Ashtabula County Technical and Career Campus and a former student of Jefferson Area Local Schools. What makes her interesting is that she is actually an immigrant from Hungary. Lastyak moved with her mother to the United States in 2008. She was born and raised in downtown Budapest.
Lastyak’s grandparents, cousins, uncles and aunts all live here. She still had to leave some family behind though. Her dad, two brothers and some cousins still live in Hungary. She is a permanent resident, and is in the final stage of becoming a naturalized citizen.
The final step of naturalization occurs when she turns 18 and can take the citizenship test. The test is made up of questions about the U.S., its history, current leaders, government structure and some of the symbols that represent the country. After passing the citizenship test, she must take an oath to honor the Constitution and express loyalty to the United States. Then she will be a United States citizen, and if she ever has dreams of entering politics, the only position she would not be able to hold would be that of president of the United States.
Lastyak said one of her biggest struggles when she arrived here was learning English. Even though she had been studying English in Hungary since first grade, she said that she would think to herself, “Why am I learning English? I’m never going to use this.”
Now that she lives here in the United States, she is using English more than she thought she would. Lastyak stopped expanding her Hungarian vocabulary in middle school when she found out she would be moving to the United States.
There are not too many cultural differences between Hungary and the United States, Lastyak said. The biggest difference she noticed is the small towns. Not many people hunt or farm in Hungary and there also isn’t as much space so people share land. Most of Hungary’s products are imported instead of being made in the country.