A couple days ago I finally hit a significant milestone with my YouTube channel: my subscriber count reached 10,000. When I had just started 3 years ago and was excited to get 200, I remember looking at my old high school's auditorium and thinking, wow, as many people as can fit here are following me right now! And that was just so fascinating and exciting to me. Now that the numbers are way over the triple digits, I feel so humbled and grateful. YouTube is a great community that gave me a lot, such as confidence and a place to express myself. To all my subscribers who watch my content, for some reason - thank you. I appreciate you.
It's been 2 months that I've been living in Brooklyn's southeastern edge, Manhattan Beach. And what I can say so far, that it's a love-hate relationship. Mostly because of the obviously long commute to midtown, distance from all of my Williamsburg friends or the humidity from the ocean, which is only a block away from my house.
But there's one thing that Brighton/Manhattan beach area has, that you can't find anywhere else in New York (well, maybe also in Sheepshead Bay, but you get the idea). It's the Russian/Ukrainian/Post-USSR community. Once you get off your long trip on the B train, you don't even feel like you're in Brooklyn anymore. For me, it doesn't quite feel like Russia either. It's a magical merging and peaceful coexistence of two cultures from across the globe whose political leaders also happen to hate each other.
I got the job offer from J. Walter Thompson on May 19th. That left me only a couple weeks to find a place to stay. I was on Craigslist, Gypsy Housing, Bedly, Listings Project, Leasebreak and a million other websites as I conducted my apartment search. Finally I was able to secure something, a room in a two-story house in Manhattan Beach, with my landlord being a sweet Ukrainian woman in her late 20s. Once I arrived I couldn't believe where I was: it wasn't like any other town I've visited before, and I've been to 25 states and 9 countries. I suddenly had the ability to just speak Russian on the phone outside and not get weird looks from people passing by. I didn't need to care what's organic and what isn't: in Russia we don't differentiate because everything is organic. I also didn't have to watch how much I'm spending on groceries because everything was so cheap, as if people who moved from that side of the world brought notoriously low Eastern European prices with them. Then there's the authentic Russian food. It tastes just like my mom's, or my grandma's. Even though in Oregon, where Russian is third most spoken language (!), you can't find nearly as much of a community. People look out for each other, and I always felt safe walking from the subway stop late at night.
How incredible is this? Even after 2 months, I still can't crack how exactly my ex-pats built this community, so close to its equivalent back home, yet somewhat different. It's almost like they put the culture into a jar, brought it across the ocean, opened the lid, and let it exist and grow just like it did 5000 miles away.
I'm sure the Chinese community did a very similar thing with Chinatown, or the Armenians in LA with Little Armenia. It's fascinating to me how we are capable of preserving our traditions even though by default we, immigrants, are viewed as running away from them to pursue the "American Dream".
Everyday on my long commute to work I think about exactly that as I board the train and say "Spasibo" to a nice gentleman who gives up his seat for me. It makes me proud for my own culture for being flexible enough to not only survive but stand out, at least for a couple miles in Southern Brooklyn, in these melting pot conditions.
This spring break, my Russian/Seattleite friends and I went on a road trip from PNW to Southern California. I captured the entire week on camera and created a video playlist for you to watch and a Cali-inspired music playlist for you to jam to. Enjoy!
There is a class offered at my university called Russian Through Theater (no pun intended). I took it last year and decided to kick myself out of my comfort zone yet again this year.
The purpose of the class is to prepare a bilingual play in 10 weeks. As a team of 25 we did not only memorize our lines and cues, but also made costumes, decorations, make-up, picked music and did PR for show night to get a bigger audience. We also had an experienced writer-director working with us. An estimated 150-200 people came to watch our production and even donated to the Russian department. It was a very stressful, yet exciting process and the actors/crew created a very special bond over love for Russian culture, theater and good literature.
This year we did a Russian happy-ending version of Romeo and Juliet called Lady Peasant, based on Alexander Pushkin's story of the same name. I was cast as the original, Shakespeare Juliet.
Here are some photos from show night! (Photo credit: Paul W Harvey)
Since October 2016 I've been hosting a talk show with fellow international students at KWVA Eugene 88.1 (aka Eighty-Eight Point Wonderful). That's when I realized I also really love playing music for others. It was like having one giant Aux chord (and nothing feels better than to be one in control of the Aux chord). I subbed around for DJ's for a couple months and then finally in January 2017 was awarded a separate slot for music. A bit of an early bird shift, but I learned to love it! Every time I sub my show is called Study Break, my Friday show is the International Cultural Service Program (ICSP) Radio Hour and my Sunday morning show is my two favorite things in life: Eggs and Bacon. Tune in, especially if you're on the East Coast! Fri 4-5pm EST/1-2pm PST and Sun 9-10am EST/6-8am PST. The theme is always "feel good music"!
The night of December 14th 2016 I got a message from a girl named Darya all the way from Moscow, Russia. She represented an organization called RAETA, which stands for Russian-American Educational Tours Association. She told me that they saw my blog and my YouTube channel, and that they'd love to have me attend their 2-day briefing with the UN experts at the headquarters building in New York City. Normally the participants have to pay a fee, but I was invited for free because they believed that I, being very much into politics, could make their discussion more interesting by asking the right questions. Oh boy. I was insanely honored and humbled, and needless to say, surprised. However, with another trip coming up and myself being a stereotypically broke college student, I knew this was way outside of my budget.
After talking to my parents and finding out that going to New York anyway was one of the few things my divorced mom and dad agreed on, I decided to give crowdfunding a try. I made a video on my channel and subtly asked my subscribers to donate. And, unbelievably, in two weeks, the $700 goal was fulfilled by a group of people I have never met.
It was my first time in the Big Apple and I instantly found out that A. With all the beautiful diversity and creative energy surrounding the city, I'd love to live there someday. And B: Subway might be the best thing humans have ever built. I stayed in three places, to get a real feel of it: Upper West Side, Hell's Kitchen and Midwood, Brooklyn. (Upper West Side stole my heart)
The UN Headquarters left me peacefully speechless and hopeful: different accents, languages, clothing styles - all united to help make this quite messed up world a better place. It was stunning and heartwarming.
Our speakers-lecturers were very sweet people too. So, this whole 2-day event was like a series of lectures and discussions on various important topics with UN experts holding high positions and a private tour of the Headquarters. A lot of the things we heard were tagged "off the record" right as a discussion would start. So I respectfully can't share much of that information on here. But in short, we covered all these things, with a focus on Russia + U.S. relations: Israel vs Palestine and the Middle East Crisis, Human Trafficking, ISIS and Counter-Terrorism, the UN Security Council and, my personal favorite, Climate Change. I also asked the experts a couple questions that started with "So, if Donald Trump is going to..." And if you're wondering: yes, the UN has got our backs.
Overall, this beautiful experience not only made me fall in love with New York (which is, let's be real, inevitable), but also let me participate in engaging and meaningful discussions with department leaders and see the inside of one of the most largest, powerful, noble and successful organizations in the world. If I get invited again, I won't think twice.
Today at the UN Headquarters I looked so professional I got a UN employee's discount at the cafe.— Stacy Yurishcheva (@stacyfromrussia) January 6, 2017
A short video I put together while being stuck at LAX on my way back from New York to Oregon.
Something I've been working on lately, whether it's for a project, or just out of boredom.
Exactly a month ago I applied for the Creative Intern 2017/Creative Director 2018 position in Upstream Advertising. (Was clearly struggling to fit my application)
Yesterday I found out I was selected from dozens of mad-talented writers, designers, art directors, etc. Out of all the amazing people out there they chose me.
Well, this was the best news I've gotten in a while! I'm so very grateful and ready to start working on our year-long campaign. I'll update the blog once I find out about what client we'll be working with. Upstream we go!
I captured my Spring Break adventures across Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming on camera and made three videos about my trip. Enjoy!