This story is re-told by Sasha Kupershmidt and is a portrayal of my grandmother Mila Kiyan’s immigration to the United States from Kiev in 1989. It was a small room populated by just me, a translator, and the woman that would grant me and my family the right to leave to America. We were finally in Italy and the new 'land of freedom' as everyone described it seemed so close since we already made it so far. The woman across from me, the interviewer from the American embassy, sat reading my log book of my professional history. She nodded her head as the translator read to her the raving reviews my previous bosses had written of my great success and strong work ethic. She continued to nod as I trembled, not knowing what questions I would have to answer and whether she would believe me. Since so many others before me had come to this interview with a memorized dialogue of how they were denied and mistreated on the sole basis of their being Jewish, there was no guarantee that she would believe my story for what it was, the truth. As they read about how I graduated from the technical institute of electro-mechanics with a red diploma, the highest honor, I thought to myself little did she know what it took to be accepted. Little did she know of how the only way I could attend the university was to take night classes while working during the day because the university would not allow a Jewish girl to attend their day classes. What the log book did not mention was how my dreams of receiving a PhD were crushed as my university professor told me that there has never been a Jewish person even allowed into the program and how it was hopeless for me to try. The log did not show the sadness I had faced as I watched my husband, who is Russian, go on to receive his PhD while I, who was just as capable and intelligent, could not simply because of my religion. She continued to read the about my first job and how I climbed the ladder to success at the top of that company and continued on to be the director of my program in the firm. But again, she only read about the outcome, not the struggle it took to reach it. Little did she know, again, of each door that was slammed in my face and how the only reason I even landed a position on the first job was because my mother, who worked at the same firm, begged her manager to have an interview with me. Only because after many years he knew my mother was an honest, hardworking person did he bother to even meet with me. This and all of the other important details were never logged in my book. None the less, I could see her amazement as she listened to the translator describe me with stupendous adjectives depicting what a wonderful worker I had been. As they finished reading my log book, the woman looked up at me and asked me one simple question, 'when were you ever denied or discriminated against for being a Jew?” At this moment, I distinctly remember staring at her in disbelief. I began to rattle my brain for an answer, any combination of words that could even begin to explain to her the life we lived in this country, but nothing came to mind simply because there was no way to convey the emotions we faced. Most likely from my earnest expression of shock and astonishment, she understood that there was no way to fake such a reaction. I began to explain to the translator the past 30 years of my life and what I had gone through but it was impossible to capture everything. We spoke for some time after that and I managed to concoct an explanation to the satisfaction of the woman interviewing me. Thankfully she sympathized with our hardships and granted us permission to leave to America as refugees of the Soviet Union. As I left the embassy, I was so relieved that after my 11 year struggle to leave this country, I had finally escaped. I had planned to leave the country 11 years earlier, however, my husband did not want to leave and therefore, he did not allow me to take our daughter. For him, life was swell in that country for he was a Russian man. For him, everything came easily and he was never looked down upon for his religion as I was. He did not understand the intensity with which I longed to leave the country with my parents and so he did not allow me to do so. Right around the time when I was asking him for permission to leave, it seemed as if the world had agreed with him and when the 1980 Olympics in Moscow began, the borders were blocked for 10 years. No one had the right to leave and no one could come in. During these 10 years, I continued to ask for permission from my husband to leave with our daughter and finally, in 1989 when he understood that there was now tension for not only Jews, but everyone, he told me to take our daughter, who was now 19, and flee the country to America. We applied for a visa and received it soon after. Then, without any hesitation, we packed our bags and boarded the train to Chop, Czechoslovakia, which laid on the border of the Soviet Union. From there, we said goodbye to our family which had rode the train with us thus far and we left knowing that soon, we would all be together again in the new country. We switched trains and continued our journey to Vienna, Austria, and finally, Rome, Italy. This is when I landed myself in the interviewing room and finally told the truth of our intentions to continue to America instead of to the imaginary aunt which had invited us to come live with her in Israel. We each had 6 bags filled with everything from pots, pans and a small toaster oven, to fine gold jewelry. We lugged our only possessions with us as we left for America. Upon our arrival in Vienna though, we were told that we could each only bring one bag to Rome and that the rest of our belongings would be shipped behind us and would arrive shortly after we did. So when we arrived in Italy and received only a small amount of money from HIAS and a nearly empty apartment, we were relieved that we had lugged even our kitchen appliances and that they would arrive soon. We patiently waited several days, which turned into several weeks, and finally several months. Our belongings only arrived 25 days before our departure to America. Nevertheless, this was only a minor bump in the road compared to the obstacles we had already faced. We were guaranteed the right to leave to America and that was all we had come for! During our several months in Italy, we enjoyed every minute that we spent exploring the new city. Although it was very rare that we could manage an extra day trip to Rome from our small apartment on the far outskirts of the city, we were able to visit many all the landmarks we only read about in history books. I remember constantly passing little shops on the streets advertising the best Italian gelato and delicious espressos and only wishing that one day, I could return to Italy and actually afford what seemed to be such luxuries at the time. Soon, we left Italy from the Leonardo da Vinci airport and arrived in the blizzarding city of New York at the JFK airport. We had finally made it to America and we were more excited than ever before! As soon as we set foot off the plane, however, we were notified that our journey to Chicago would yet again be prolonged due to the extreme weather conditions. Our plane was delayed 16 hours and we were forced to sit in the stiff, uncomfortable chairs in the gate waiting area. We were used to waiting so this was no surprise for us. We waited for the storm to pass and then finally flew to our final destination, Chicago! Luckily, my brother had immigrated to Chicago several years before us and was able to rent us an apartment before we had arrived. It was a tiny apartment in a very old building but we had little to complain about because we were fortunate enough to be the only ones in the building that did not have cockroaches crawling throughout the apartment. Soon after our arrival in Chicago, I was able to find a job at the American Stair Corporation as an engineer, similar to what I was doing in the Soviet Union. It was a wonderful feeling to be accepted as a professional with no regard to my religion. Finally, I felt what freedom is and why I had to fight so hard to reach it. I remembered my log book that the interviewer was so impressed with in Italy and I knew that now I could start a new chapter of my life. Since then, I have worked 20 years at the American Stair Corporation and have been extremely successful and happy! Every day when I look at my daughter and her own success, both in her personal and professional life, I am overjoyed to know that she will never be denied freedom an opportunity in this country as I was in the Soviet Union!