Susan and Robert Mednick lived in Chicago and were activists in the Chicago Jewish community. They traveled to the Soviet Union to bring hope and supplies to “Refuseniks”. Once they reached the Soviet Union they went to Riga, where they spent three days with the Maryasen family. The Maryasens were a vital component of the Riga community, a key activist center of Soviet Jewry. Alexander Maryasen had been the head of an industrial plant until his application to leave the U.S.S.R. In the wake of his dismissal, he spent time researching Holocaust-era sites around Riga. The Mednicks recalled that even after years of refusals and disappointments, Alexander still somehow found the ability to laugh. The Maryasens immigrated to Toronto, Canada.