Irena witnessed major political upheaval in her homeland–from the collapse of the communist system to the birth of democracy. She remembers the longs line-ups for everything that Canadians might take for granted. In the 1980s, she was a teenage girl who wished to own delicate ballerina shoes. During those years, she had to walk in sturdy but ugly footwear, dreaming that one-day her shoes and her country would change for the better. It took over twenty years for her dreams to come true.