Even from birth, Oksana Rossano was a living example of cultural outreach. She was born in Russia but half Ukrainian. And when she eventually married, it was to a student from the Dominican Republic. But extending that personal tradition of diversity into a new life in the United States wasn’t particularly easy.
“It was a long process,” she says. “We tried to leave in 1984. I was pregnant and working and the government wouldn’t give me a release that I was a ‘politically correct’ person.”
After about half a year, they were able to relocate to New York, where Rossano’s husband had family and better job prospects in his field of petroleum engineering. She herself also found success as an engineer for various firms, and then with Citigroup. But when her husband’s career took the family to Lakeland and ultimately Orlando, she switched to real estate and property management.
“I have more free time this way,” she explains.
That free time is spent on many activities that remind her of home. Rossano is a member of the Russian American Society and has numerous Russian friends. And though her son isn’t interested in that aspect of their heritage, she’s raising her daughter to know the culture and speak the language. (Thanks to her father, she also speaks Spanish.)
“New York was a big city like Moscow,” Rossano says, comparing her Stateside experiences. “Florida is more friendly and the weather is great and I have more time to have a social life.”
It’s an even farther cry from the Russia of the 1980s – but in a good way.
“The socialism and lack of freedom in 1985 was not what I wanted. I’m very active and am able to fulfill lots of dreams I had here.”