Cultural Exchange Participants in Need of a Place to Live

By Sylvia Gonzalez
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND - The American dream? More like a living nightmare for six cultural exchange participants from Russia and the Ukraine. They wanted to experience the American life, but when they arrived to Midland, there was not place to live.

The experience of coming to the United States has turned from sweet to bitter for six cultural exchange participants, because of the housing crunch, they don't have a place to live.

All of the participants work at Buffalo Wild wings. Their manager, Chris Snitcker, says this isn't the way they should be learning about our country.

"The first student showed up he didn't have a place to stay, so we helped him, then another one followed somebody else helped him out and there's still four left that are staying in a shelter right now. It wasn't exactly our idea of the American experience," Snitcker said.

Alice Grishina is from Russia, she's one of the group members that is staying at the shelter. Alice told NewsWest 9, she has to be out of the shelter by 7 a.m. and be back by 9 p.m. at night, if she wants to secure a place to sleep.

The situation is not only upsetting for her but for her mother as well.

"My mom is very nervous because I am in shelter, I can stay in hotel but it's very expensive almost $80 per night, it's very expensive," Grishina said.

NewsWest9 contacted the Inter Exchange Agency that brought the group to the United States.

At first they said it was the participants responsibility to find their own housing. Their manager, Chris Snitker, was told the same thing.

"The company explained that they are not responsible for housing basically some of the kids did not understand that. They assumed once they got the job that we would help them find them a place to live. In Midland, it's hard to find a place to live," Snitker said.

NewsWest 9 contacted the agency again. We talked to the Marketing Director, who told us they did not have a group in Texas. We faxed them all the information and they tell us they'll get back with us after they investigate. For now, four of the participants are staying in shelters.

One participant is staying with a friend, the other, Edward Mayvear, is living with manager Chris Snitker. Mayvear had this to say about his friends who were stuck in the shelter.

"They are all human and we want to help them," Mayvear said.

Surprisingly the whole group is staying optimistic, 20-year-old Pavel Savchencko from Russia, who is also staying at the shelter, isn't giving up hope.

"Yeah, yeah, I am positive. Let's hope for the best but prepare for the worst," Savchencko said.

Since the participants have to be out of the shelter by 7 a.m. they go to the library so they can use their WI-fi services to Skype with family back in Russia.

If you want to help these individuals find a place to stay for the next three months, please contact Chris Snitker at (512) 216-9227.