| By Edward Graham |
Kat Savchyn was 10 years old when her family emigrated from L’viv, Ukraine for the United States. Along with her sister and her mother, the family eventually settled in Alexandria, Va.
Now 25 years old and working as a data scientist for a consultant firm in Washington, D.C., Savchyn said she was too young at the time to grasp the full magnitude of their move, but she was able to adapt relatively quickly to her new surroundings.
“I didn’t really have a good understanding of what was going on, but when I went to school I acclimated really quickly,” said Savchyn, who attended the Alexandria City Public Schools. “There were a lot of foreign kids in school with me, so I guess I organically adapted to the culture and the people and the language.”
Although the D.C. region does not rank among U.S. cities with the largest Ukrainian populations—data from the U.S. census shows that New York City has the highest total of Ukrainians in the country—the region nevertheless boasts a proud Ukrainian heritage.
According to data from the Center for Demographic and Socio-Economic Research of Ukrainians in the United States, just over 18,000 people of Ukrainian heritage live in the metropolitan D.C. area. The majority of this population—close to 13,000 people—were born in the U.S.
Savchyn says her mother remains in touch with the Ukrainian community through church in D.C., but that she isn’t as in tune with the local community. While she still maintains a slight accent, Savchyn is perfectly fluent in English and can also speak Ukrainian, Russian and Polish, often drifting between all four languages when speaking with her mother or sister.