All week, WCCO Radio is tackling the topic of immigration with a series of stories from Minnesota. WCCO’s Al Schoch sat down with Elena Tishakova, who spoke about coming to Minnesota and opening her own bakery in the second part of “An Undocumented Future: Minnesota in a New Age of Immigration.”
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Minnesotans have expressed their concerns about people from other countries coming here. Heard at anti-immigration protests are calls for more extreme vetting, which follows President Trump’s lead on getting a handle on suspected terrorists before they enter the U.S.READ MORE: Kim Potter Trial, Dec. 2 Live Updates: 10th Juror Seated, 4 More Needed
What’s long been a problem among many Americans is the perception that immigrants are given a free ride when they cross the border or enter through a seaport.
Elena Tishakova came to the U.S. from Russia more than two decades ago, and was not about to take anything she didn’t earn.
She started her journey working a summer exchange program at Valleyfair. That’s where she fell in love with Minnesota.
“I wanted to come here. I wanted to live here. I wanted to have my life here,” she said. “I wanted to contribute to this country, I wanted to make this country better. I wanted to be a part of it.”
And Tishakova did become part of it, making the move halfway across the globe before telling her family.
She worked all kinds of jobs. Her varied resume includes experience in retail, as a mortgage broker and working for a cleaning company.
In 2013, she became proprietor of Elena’s Bakery in downtown Hutchinson. She sells local products while baking pies and cakes for special occasions.READ MORE: COVID In MN: Omicron Variant Detected In Vaccinated Minnesotan Who Traveled To NYC
“I always wanted a bakery,” Tishakova said. “I worked everywhere…but the dream stayed in my mind.”
When she first came to the U.S., it was a different time with different attitudes toward immigrants. Bill Clinton was president.
“Everything was much easier,” Tishakova said. “People were, like, super-accepting and welcoming.”
She felt that spirit of acceptance may have been a factor for her wanting to start a new life in a new country.
She also feel things could be different in 2017.
“Possibly,” she said.
Over the years, Tishakova has heard the complaints from Americans about immigrants gaining privileges.
“My personal opinion, when I came here, all I wanted is to put myself to work. I didn’t want anything free,” she said. “We worked really hard, we were young – we didn’t have kids, we didn’t have families so we were able to do that. But we did not ask for anything free. So, we worked hard. We moved from an apartment with six people to an apartment with two people to a house. Working hard helped us. And I guess that’s my point. When immigrants come here, I think they should show that they can bring something, that they want to contribute to this country that gives them so much, so many opportunities, so much freedom, so much life.”MORE NEWS: Meet Two Women Shaping The Next Generation Of The Twin Cities Food Scene
What Tishakova is doing is fulfilling a dream that means a lot for people who love their cakes and pies baked that special way. With that, she’s brought to the United States the feeling of making the best of not only herself, but also her adopted country.