Instead of telling the whole story of my family’s immigration to USA, I will try to share only some highlights, the things that matter to me most. My family came to USA on April 5, 1993 – I and my husband in our mid-30s, and our 10-year old son Dima. (It was the first day of Passover but symbolic meaning of leaving the USSR on that day didn't sink in until much later).We landed in San Francisco, in the middle of Silicon Valley, and this was pure luck: I was a skilled computer programmer back in the USSR with 10+ years of experience but I had no clue what “Silicon Valley” meant: it was our port of landing simply because my husband’s distant relative lived here, and she agreed to sign our papers and find an apartment for us. I came to the USA against my will, leaving behind my parents and sister, not knowing when and if I will ever see them again. I came here because my husband convinced me we had to do it for our son, so he can build his future here. I remember sleepless night in Moscow before our flight, tearful farewells to my parents, and my broken heart. I remember my protective parents trying to make sure we’ll fit all the things we can possibly need, into our two bags that we were allowed to bring with us. Now, in retrospect, I realize we would be better off if we just took our carry-ons and family pictures. Most of what we brought turned out pretty useless: all of our clothes looked horrible and were screaming “sovok!” from a distance. All the bedding - sheets, pillow cases that were a “must” to have because it’s all “very expensive in America" - all turned out to be the wrong size and didn’t fit American mattresses and pillows. Later, my parents shipped us all of our books - and this is one of the few things I’m happy I do have here. Most of what we needed could be easily bought with my first paycheck – thank G-d and the booming 1993 economy, I found my first programming job in a few months - sooner than I actually started speaking English. I also remember the first phrase our son said once we landed in SFO and were waiting on a parking lot for my husband’s aunt to pick us up: “Wow, so many foreign cars!” Our aunt took us with her to a family of her friends for Passover dinner that evening. Dima was playing chess with the boys he met at the dinner – and started crying because he didn’t understand a word they were saying. A couple of weeks later, he had his first spelling test in his first American school – and was the only one in his class with a 100% score. Our first year in America was insanely busy: taking English and professional classes in junior college, looking for a job, writing and sending resumes, getting a job and taking more classes at night…. Nothing impressed me much about America back then - I was homesick and missed my parents a lot, having left everything I knew and loved, behind. Fortunately, keeping busy helped - I simply didn’t have a minute to reflect on anything. One thing I regret a lot in retrospect - is that in my busy life adjusting and surviving in the new country, and being a bread winner in the family - I don’t remember Dima’s teenage years - I was always either at work, or in class after work. Later, soon after my parents moved here in 1996, my mom was diagnosted with cancer, and I was very busy again trying to balance work and taking care of her and her treatments. Dima was going through most important years of his life - and I don’t remember what he looked like as a teenager, until I see pictures of those years – and then I feel very sad. Compared to some other families, we had it easy – I found a professional job almost right away, going exactly what I knew and loved. My jobs paid for Dima’s college, our first house , etc - still, deep down I always felt I paid too big a price, depriving myself from precious time I should’ve - but haven't spent with my teenage boy. I remember, in the summer of 1994, my parents came to visit us – and we were going to drive to LA with them on the 4th of July weekend, and take Dima to Disneyland. But my manager asked me work and monitor some programs over that weekend, since there wouldn’t be anyone else in the office. I didn’t dare to say ‘No’ – and my family went to LA without me. I’ve never seen Disneyland, but what I regret most is that I’ve never seen an impression on my son’s face when he saw it, his amusement, his joy. In retrospect, I wish I explained to my boss that my parents were visiting and that we made plans – but I didn’t, it was a new job and I was afraid to lose it. The most difficult part of my professional life during our first years here were social occasions at work- I felt very confident while sitting on my computer and doing what I did best – programming – but really suffered when a lunch with a group of coworkers could not be avoided. My English was bad, I couldn’t relate to most of jokes people were saying – and nobody could relate to mine. Soon, I realized - I better stay away from making them. And I better stay away from explaining my family troubles and describing( in detail!) what's on my mind - in response to a "How are you?" question. Sometimes my coworkers thought I was joking when I simply didn’t understand what they were saying. I remember, during my first year at work, a colleague walked into my cube with a stack of office documents and asked, “Where is your in-basket”? I didn’t know what “in-basket” was but I knew the word “basket” - and pointed to a trash basket on the floor. The guy started laughing hysterically, and from that moment on, was praising my “great sense of humor” on every occasion. We never really struggled here financially – sure, most of our outfits during our first years were bought at garage sales ( “Goodwill” stores were reserved for special occasions, I was shopping for my evening dresses there), and our first cars had a total of 400K miles on them when we bought them – this didn’t bother me much, I always knew this was temporarily and we came to the country where everything depends on our skills, brains and efforts – and nothing else. The boy whose first phrase is America was “wow, so many foreign cars!” – is 27 years old today, graduated from UC Berkeley with degrees in economics and computer science, both with Honors( he's got a perfect SAT II score of 2400, was accepted to Ivy League schools but chose Berkeley - and I remember myself, graduating from a high school in the USSR with a gold medal and choosing a college where I would only need to pass one written exam, so nobody knows that I am Jewish ( names were encrypted on written exams only) - instead of going to a medical school that I dreamed of but knew I wouldn't get into no matter what my grades were; not with my last name!). Dima had a job on Wall Street in NYC, recently married, moved to Beverly Hills, founded his own business and now drives his own new and expensive car ( foreign!), and I am very proud of him. He is very bright, works very hard and I know he can achieve anything he wants. My sister jokes and says that planet Earth seems to be too small for him since he's been everywhere already and next vacation destination might be to the Moon ( well, short of going to the Moon, we had to travel to a beautiful island in Thailand where he wanted to have his Jewish wedding). I remember myself during my college years: my school could send only one student to Poland for summer internship, and it was supposed to be based on our academic results. I was #1 student in class - strangely, another girl was sent to Poland, and I was very upset and thought, "There goes my hope to see the world". That girl had real troubles keeping up with our academic program and dropped out later but her dad was some 3rd rank Secretary of CPSU in her home town in the Urals, and that was enough. I love this country with all my heart and will never take anything for granted – I know I paid my price but I also know I am very blessed to be here. Every time I travel abroad and go through passport control with my US passport in hand, I feel such an enormous pride and gratitude that I need to fight back tears.