USSR to the USA: My Journey to Becoming a U.S. Citizen
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My father was a gifted dental tech. The dentures and prosthetics he made for people with dental issues were always of the highest quality. Always comfortable and very rarely had to be adjusted. Someone like him, in the US, would have a booming dental laboratory. In communist USSR, however, he was on a KGB watch list because operating a non-government-run business was as illegal as it could get.
Six-year-old me was sworn to secrecy about our VCR. And every few weeks, I would watch my parents move all of the furniture out of our home because a friend of my father's would tip him off that the KGB was due to make a surprise visit to make sure we were not living any better than we should be. Punishment for making money outside of your government-issued job? A prison sentence.
Needless to say, as soon as the USSR opened its borders in 1988, my family escaped with little more than the clothes on our backs.
Our journey to the US was long and arduous. We lived in Vienna, Austria for a while, waiting for the next country to take us in. We lived in Rome and Ladispoli, Italy, where I went to school and my parents held their breath waiting to hear whether the US would accept us, or whether we would have to immigrate to Israel.
Needless to say, my family went through a lot to finally arrive in the United States, the land of dreams.
This country was a new beginning for my parents. It signified freedom and provided the freedom to live how they saw fit for our family. Grateful for every opportunity, my parents, grandmother and I could not wait for our 5 year waiting period with Green Cards to come to an end so that we could become American citizens.
I remember my parents studying their US History in preparation for their test. And I helped my grandmother study years later, once her mastery of the English language was proficient.