As most of you already know, I was born and raised in Romania, an Eastern European country near the Black Sea. We're rarely in the news, and when we are it's because of something bad, like a corrupt government or bad economic state, rather than the many great things us Romanians have come to know our home country for -- the amazing landscapes, Carpathian arc, culture, and important people like Aurel Vlaicu and Nadia Comaneci, the first gymnast to score a perfect 10.
To many people (including some Romanians), our country sucks, and granted, there is so much more to work on and improve. However if you'd ask me where I would rather have been born, I would tell you that there is no other place I'd rather call home. Because of how dear this place is to me, I'm not afraid to point out it's flaws and mistakes, and then take action to change things, so we can improve (similar to how you'd act in a relationship, I guess). This is my list of 5 things I don't hope, but know for a fact I will fight for and improve, in order to create a better Romania.
1. Gender inequality. Like I told the people at Mogul, as a young girl growing up in Romania, a second world country known for its discrimination and lack of representation of minorities, I know how difficult it is for women and young girls to receive the advice and help they need, access opportunities that others in more developed countries can reach within seconds, share thoughts without fear of judgement and feel the love and support of a community of strong and inspiring women that will always have your back.
I plan to change that. I'm writing on Mogul because I hope that this little corner of the internet will be the start of a safe space for my friends and colleagues and fellow Romanians looking for a place to vent, ask for advice or display their accomplishments. I'm also currently working with one of the biggest feminism organizations in Romania and I'm certain together we can really make some cool things happen.
2. Lack of opportunities for everyone, but particularly high school students. This one hits really close to home, because I know how bad things really are in terms of the lack of opportunities we are given or introduced to. Teens looking to add something to their resume only have a few options, and that is to cling to the national English, math, Romanian etc. "olympics," which, not gonna lie, are kind of rigged anyway (and don't account for much on an international scale), or take part in debate or MUN conferences. We never hear of internships and a lot of people laugh in your face when you ask for something of this sort from a young age. We never hear of service trips or summer camps or summer programs at colleges. This makes it more difficult for us to separate ourselves from the crowd when applying to universities or colleges.
I plan to change this by talking about opportunities I find, to make sure that more people in my school / city / country hear of them. I've started writing articles about these opportunities for some big Romanian magazines, and I've also spoken about them on Mogul.
3. Domestic violence (or better said -- how normalized D.V. has become). DV is a huge issue everywhere in the world, and Romania is no exception, however that doesn't mean we should be hesitant to fight it. A recent study in Romania showing percentages of people who consider DV normal, justifiable in some cases etc. has alarming results, and that makes me angry. However, I know how to channel my anger into something productive, something that will lower those alarming poll results. I'm going to do this with the help of FRONT Romania, a great organization fighting to achieve the same goal.
4. Corruption (on a small scale). This is a big one, and I can see why you might be raising your eyebrows. Granted, I can't really change the level of corruption that lives and thrives in Romania, however I can put a slight dent in it. This can be done by protesting in my city and keeping an eye out for anything shady in my school, town etc. If there's something I can do about it, chances are I'm doing it.
5. The lack of patriotism among Romanians. I've written about our tendency to be unpatriotic in an article for Her Culture that is coming out this month (I'll share it when it's up), but to sum it up in a few words, Romanians have a tendency to feel unpatriotic due to the many things left to improve in our country. We forget all of the amazing things our country has to offer and we get overwhelmed by the corruption and lack of representation and, oh, did I mention the corruption? Still, there is so, so much to be proud of when you're Romanian, so I'm working to spread that message around, mostly using Mogul, but my personal blog as well. This is a great country, and we need to stop looking at the glass half empty.
What do you hope to change in your country / city / school? How are you planning on creating that change? I'd love to know.