Romanian American leaders are lifting up the diaspora community in Chicago – Liderii Româno-Americani ridică diaspora din Chicago
One Woman’s Story
Guest speaker Ioana Salajanu, a Chicago attorney specializing in Commercial Law, had a poignant story to share today. While expecting to hear a typical success story from an immigrant who found success through hard work in the land of opportunity, we instead learned of the suffering many have experienced before accomplishing that goal.
Prior to World War II, Ioana’s Jewish ancestors were prominent members of Romanian society and held influential positions within its legal system. That all changed in 1939 and the holocaust that followed. Her story, without the use of notes and shared with total candor, weaved its way through the persecution and death of family members… the Soviet occupation… poverty… and her father’s ability to reestablish enough credibility within the Soviet justice system to allow him the ability to travel. One day he disappeared. Without even the knowledge of his family, he had secretly defected to Canada.
It was four years before he was able to communicate his fate and reunite the family.
But, the picture was not idyllic, as the starting point for their new found freedom was in the slums of Detroit, Michigan. If we “fast forward” to today, we find Chicago attorney Ioana Salajanu having reignited the family tradition of working within the legal system, with aspirations to become a Judge. Much has changed in her homeland since the downfall of the Iron Curtain and its 2007 accession into the European Union, where Romania has become the 17th largest by GDP. The country has become a regional leader in many fields including IT and automobile manufacturing. In her spare time, Ioana works behind the scenes trying to encourage more business investments between the two countries. After hearing Ioana’s story, one is left feeling that those of us born in America often take too much for granted.
In the photo at right you will find Rotary CFD International Projects Chairman and fellow attorney Andy Horberg in the middle, with Ioana Salajanu on the left… and prospective member and fellow Romanian immigrant, Diana Rusz, on the right.