A few weeks back my husband and I were flying from Seattle to Rochester, NY. We got to sit next to a man from Armenia who came to the US in the 70s.
He had grown up during the time that his country was part of the Soviet Union. We asked him how he learned English, since he spoke very well. For one thing, he and his wife had lived for some 30 years in Alaska, where he worked. His daughters were born in the US. Besides that, he had studied English in school back in Armenia. The Soviets had the schools divided into blocks. Some of the areas studied Russian, others English, and others other languages. He was in an area where the schools taught English as a second language, and he had worked hard to master it.
He said at one point that the Soviet rule was not all bad. Then he paused, correcting himself. "No," he said. "It was all bad."
I know what he meant. We spent a number of years living in Pinochet´s Chile, and we regularly visit a country that, well,...I´d better not say any more. I know what he meant.
In a sense, one learns to be stronger in oppressive situations, but there must be better ways to learn strength and endurance.