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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