Swimming in the Daylight
In September 1984, Lisa Paul, an American college student and nanny living in Moscow, entered Inna Meiman's house for her first Russian language lesson. And so began a two-year friendship and a fight for Inna's life. In Swimming in the Daylight, Lisa chronicles her friend's struggle to shed her refusenik status, obtain a visa to America, and find medical treatment for her malignant cancer. Inna endured a perverse reality as a citizen of the Soviet Union: By refusing her permission to emigrate, her government denied her the ability to seek life-saving cancer treatment in Western countries. In effect, Inna explained to Lisa, this refusal was a form of Soviet persecution of her and her husband Naum, a member of the Moscow Helsinki Watch Group fighting for human rights in the U.S.S.R., for being Jewish. Spurred by outrage and the desire to help her friend, Lisa returned to the United States, vowing to do all she could to get Inna out of Moscow. She staged a hunger strike, held a press conference, and galvanized American politicians to fight for Inna's freedom. All these efforts eventually persuaded Mikhail Gorbachev to issue Inna a visa in December 1986, when she finally stepped foot on American soil. At a time when international strife seemed insurmountable and worries at home seemed paralyzing, this story taught-and continues to teach-people everywhere that courage and willpower define a person and that individuals have the power to change the future.