Profile Final Draft

December 9th, 2015


At the beginning of 2014, 19 year old Cholponai “Chopa” Ryskulova immigrated to America from Kyrgztan all on her own. She started off her new life in New York City by finding herself a job at a hotel as a housekeeper. However, after six months the New York life style just wasn’t for her. “I don’t like big cities at all. First of all because of danger. Second I don’t like noise. Third of all I don’t like crowds of people around me.”

A friend of hers was living in Sioux City and convinced Chopa to move to Iowa where a job and apartment would be waiting for her. She took the offer and has been living and working in Sioux City ever since.

Her story of faith, bravery, and breaking the norm has touched many lives here in Sioux City.

At a young age Chopa became interested in coming to America. One of her seven older sisters came to America on a mission trip. Her sister thought America was a wonderful, life-changing place and told Chopa all about it when she returned to Kyrgztan. She also told Chopa of the freedom of Christianity. Kyrgztan is a strict Muslim country and expressing Christianity can be life-threatening. Chopa decided that she too wanted to come to America. When she was in 8th Grade she started to learn English as a second language.

Chopa loves her home country but stood out from her friends. “I was feeling that I’m different than my friends. They were all about marrying stuff and girlfriend boyfriend stuff.  Most of them are arranged marriages. In my life I was feeling like I don’t want to be like that.”

More than ever she wanted to travel.

When she was in college she applied for a Work and Travel program. Out of the 30 students who applied, only 3 would receive Visas. Chopa ended up being one of those 3. Another was her friend.

Presently, Chopa, now 21, is living in an apartment close to the Southern Hills Mall, where she works at a kiosk. She also has a job as register at Chick-fil-A. Her goals are to save money to purchase a car and to start classes. She hopes to study Hotel Administration.

The biggest change for Chopa has been the ability to worship freely here. “Here you have a chance to do everything that you want. You have freedom here.  You have opportunity to realize all your desires, all your dreams. In Kyrgztan you don’t have this chance.”

In Sioux City, Chopa was welcomed into the Sunnybrook Church Community. She has met and touched a lot of people with her story according to Sunnybrook’s Director of Community and College Ministries, Chris Ver Steeg. “What a courageous and brave young lady. I just saw a lady who just could teach college students a lot of things about just trusting in God and her faith, having courage, being brave and really just kind of set an example for a lot of people.”

Kelsey Brenner, a member of Sunnybrook’s College Ministries is amazed with how Chopa literally endured life and death situations when trying to share her Christian beliefs with others. “She’s very brave and the fact that she went and preached the gospel even though she could have gotten arrested. It’s [her story] way more deserving of most things you see on TV now days.”

comments Brenner.

Chopa’s story teaches us to be thankful for what we have as Americans and to cherish our freedom of religion. Hopefully her story of bravery can encourage others to work hard to accomplish their dreams. “Nobody could be like Chopa,”

beams Brenner.

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