Young Russian immigrant masters English, baseball

OAK PARK They came to the United States less than two years ago and settled in Oak Park.

The mother works and goes to school. Her son has learned English and gotten a partial scholarship. He has also learned baseball.

His team is now in the Little League playoffs.

Nine-year-old Russian immigrant Amir Supikhodjaeva came to this country with his mom, Feruza, two years ago. He did not know English and had never played baseball. On Monday, Amir's Oak Park Little League team was in the playoffs at Horace Mann School.

"Making me feel excited," said Amir Supikhodjaeva.

"Oak Park is just amazing. People here are just amazing, unbelievable. I learned so much from here, and my son learned a lot," said Feruza Supikhodjaeva.

Amir's single mom learned about St. Giles School on the Internet, and on her second day in America went to enroll Amir, who is in the fifth grade.

"I was kind of being shy coming the first time to school at St. Giles. And it's kind of exciting to meet new friends," said Amir Supikhodjaeva.

Families from St. Giles initially provided housing, food, clothing and moral support. Amir and his mother are grateful to three families in particular for treating them like family. Feruza Supikhodjaeva was ready to give up and go back to Russia, when Julie and Tom Keegan opened their home to them.

"The Gallos and the Planeks and the Keegans are good people," said Amir.

"They said, 'Hold on, give us two days and we will find out, you know, we'll help you. This is America.' They just said, 'You can stay with us as long as you like,'" said Feruza Supikhodjaeva.

Amir just won a little league sportsmanship award.

"That says you were the player that the team picked as displaying the best sportsmanship and overall attitude on the team," said Tom Keegan.

"He wants to play every position. He's one of the most enthusiastic players. And he's risen to have one of the top on-base percentages on one of the top teams," said coach Jim Allen.

Mother and son say they love America.

"America is doing so much for my son," said Feruza Supikhodjaeva.

"I want to stay here the rest of my life and play baseball and be an astronaut," said Amir.

While she and her son both speak five languages, Feruza said she holds several jobs, but she's still looking for work and would like to get her MBA.

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