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Serg Potapenko:
An immigrant’s journey to West Geauga

by Jon Hanover, Editorial Editor

From the old Soviet Union, to the ghetto of South Euclid, to suburban Chesterland, Serg Potapenko lays claim to a rich variety of experience. Serg was born in Moldova on November 6th, 1987. With the recent fall of the Soviet Union, Russia was experiencing hard times. Four years later, as the Russian people experimented with democracy, the Potapenkos moved to America.

They found themselves in Greenville, a poor section of South Euclid, which was, at the time, a strongly Russian community. Soon, however, many of the other Russian immigrants moved out, leaving Serg and his little brother, Vlad, the only whites on the street. Though conditions were poor and crime was high, Serg is glad to have had the experience. “Most of my friends were [minority], and because of that I don’t have the prejudices that people have out here,” said Serg, “I don't think of people as being a color, just as people."

But two years ago, when the Potapenkos decided to move to Chesterland, Serg had no complaints. "I liked going from the city to more suburban country. I dig that." Now Serg is a sophmore at West Geauga High School and loves it here - though he admits it has been a little awkward coming from such a deverse population to a school where, "the black population is like two and a half."

He does lead vocals for New Authority, writes poetry, and is an art major. Serg also enjoys acting, skateboarding and horseback riding.

With all of this, Serg still has not forgotten his Russian roots. He still speaks Russian at home every day with his family and celebrates Russian holidays. "Some people think I've stayed pretty much the same everywhere I've lived - and I've lived everywhere." Pull quote: “Most of my friends were black, and because of that I don’t have the prejudices that people have out here.”


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