Growing up on ‘this side’

I grew up in the United States, on "this side" of the Iron Curtain. In fact, my memories of Cold War childhood are all about the ways that such language and rhetoric were mobilized and consolidated on the Nightly News through the voice of news anchor Tom Brokaw. Nobody explained much to me about what was happening, but I distinctly remember the stories, toward the end of the Cold War, of a little American girl named Samantha who went "behind the Iron Curtain" and was permitted a visit to Russia, one of the first cultural ambassadors to the region. I think that it was because of her very status as a child that she was permitted to go, and I watched the (heavily curated) footage of her being pushed on a swing by Gorbachev? Is that even possible? I remember hearing interviews with her about how she just wanted to have a normal exchange with Russian people, and how we are all the same at the core, and it astounded me that the national media was listening to a regular girl about my age and giving her such a privileged place. I now, more cynically, see this as a publicity stunt for the warming of relations that were already beginning to take place behind the scenes. But I'm interested in how my childhood was constructed in opposition to the very propagandistic images of the Soviet Union that reached me at the time in the 1980s.