“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

“Are you really ready to work for the Dark Side?”

A final round interview, a senior partner and me, one question away from my dream job. This question should have caught me off guard, but I knew what he meant by the “Dark Side.” It was Russia.

It was Russia that had killed and jailed political opposition, threatened free-thinkers, and ruined uncorrupted businesses, including my dad’s. Disheartened, I moved to the U.S. in 2014, thinking of never coming back. Russia became the Dark Side for me, too. After the Crimean gambit and all the controversy in the U.S. presidential elections who would argue otherwise?

HBS changed me. Through conversations, debates and even a few conflicts I realized how deeply I am devoted to her, my Motherland. Her nature, so exuberant and strikingly diverse. Her people, who might be intimidating at the beginning, but then open up in the most genuine way. Her virtues, her culture, even her cuisine.

“I am ready to work for the Dark Side, if that is what it takes to help Russia.”

I believe we can fight the misperceptions that our countries have about each other and build peace together. Until then, goodbye, America. I am still your friend, even from the other side.

— Natalia Savina