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Original contribution to the3six5 project (365 days, 365 points of view)

 

Today I spoke at TEDx and shared my experiences as an immigrant. I shared my American Dream.

It has always been odd to me that some people who were born in the US laugh when I use the expression “American dream”, as though it is antiquated or fictitious. But to me, after growing up in Soviet Russia, it is neither of those.

Every member of my family that I have known has existed in the limited horizons of the Soviet Union. It was defined by limited freedoms, by the fear to stand out, and most notably to me by the limitations on women’s aspirations. Passionately defending something that you believed in wasn’t a norm and certainly was not encouraged by the state. My childhood was defined by identical uniforms and identical attitudes. Freedom of religion didn’t exist. Dreams came with limits.

With the support of my family and the help of extraordinary people along the way, I was able to see the world beyond the Cold War curtain. I’ve lived in the United States now for 13 years…and I am grateful!

I am humbled too. As an immigrant, the chance to be free and live with dignity is immeasurable. When I look at my daughter and I think of her future, I am filled with pride. She will grow up with limitless horizons. She will be able to make her own choices, may live without fear, and has the opportunity to be treated as an equal. How many people around the world can say that?

America provides hope for so many. Let us not take things for granted. It is easy to get discouraged when the going gets tough. It may be a hard journey, but I urge all of us to break through the barriers we set for ourselves or others set for us, and to dare to dream! To get your American dream, whatever it may be! After all, there is no better place in the world to make it a reality.

 

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8 Responses to “Defining Your American Dream”

  1. posah says:

    I’m strongly agree with this humble point of view. I’m living in Cameroon (central african country) and as far as we are concerned here, democracy, employment and liberty of opinion are lot of words that have different senses from what you can define there in europe, america.
    Without being discouraged about our way/level of life, lot of people in the continent are giving their own definition to these concepts and living with it. By doing this, they are showing (for me!), a huge hope for better days.

    PS: The words meaning are changing there regularly, maybe one day, this will be the same with the difficulties we are facing.

  2. Ekaterina Walter says:

    Posah, thank you for your comment and for openly sharing your opinion. I know how hard it may be. And I do share your hope!

  3. Bob Blount says:

    Thank you for sharing! I hope you are well? All the best, BB

  4. Sophia says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience. As immigrants, there are too many stories about it. Anyway, I wish you have a good American dream.
    Sophia recently posted..Forex Robots Are DangerousMy Profile

  5. Vanessa says:

    One word. Wow. I stumbled across your video by chance after reading a post on Jay Baer’s blog and then landed here. First off, thank you so much for sharing your story and being so open. It is not easy to do but it is so motivating and inspiring to both immigrants and non-immigrants alike. It is partly human nature to set boundaries for ourselves, some of us do this more than others, and some like you say have no choice because others set those boundaries for us. Watching your video I was so moved and it shook me thinking, why on earth would I be the one to set my own boundaries? I just want to say thank you for a truly inspiring story and lesson. I’m bookmarking your video and will replay it again and again whenever I feel those doubts creeping in. Thank you.
    Vanessa recently posted..Hello 2012! – My Five New Year Health ChallengesMy Profile

  6. Ekaterina Walter says:

    Vanessa,
    thank you so much for your comment. I am glad you enjoyed the speech. And you are right, it wasn’t easy to do it. But the thought of knowing it might inspire someone else is what make it worthwhile.
    Happy New Year! I wish you all the amazing things in 2012!

  7. Thanks for this touching, powerful reminder of the immigrant experience. My mother, who was 19 years old when emigrated from Germany between the two World Wars, told me the story of her arrival in the US by ship crossing the Atlantic Ocean. When her ship entered New York Harbor, and she saw the majestic Statue of Liberty for the first time, she cried. Today’s immigrants may not have that exact experience, but they are here for the same reason. My mother lived a modest life, and died 15 years ago. But she would be proud of me, her daughter, and my exceptional business that exemplifies her values of of helping others while living lightly on the earth.

  8. Ekaterina Walter says:

    Nancy, thank you so much for sharing your story here. I am glad you liked the talk. And I love your story. Your mother sounds like an amazing and courageous woman! I have no doubt she would be proud of you. My sincere thanks for sharing a little bit of yourself on my blog!

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