Given this year’s troubled political context both nationally, on a European level and internationally, I find it somewhat difficult to write about my sense of belonging to one country or nation, without mentioning that nationalism is on the rise, giving birth to a lot of xenophobic and intolerant behaviour all across the world.
While I have been living abroad for the past 6 years, calling home, for different periods of time, the city of Madrid, in Spain, Aberdeen, in Scotland and Luxembourg, at the end of each day and mostly at the beginning of each conversation, I am Romanian, coming from the region of Maramures, in the north of the country.
Frankly, I think I have never been ”more Romanian” in my whole life than in the past 6 years both in my soul and in other people’s minds. It is funny and strange to reach the conclusion that you become ”more” Spanish, Portuguese or American once you live somewhere abroad.
Yes, I am a proud Romanian, but I also like to be given credit for my personal skills, opinions and perspectives as to my own identity, origin and future. I refuse to be defined by others’ definitions of what is like to be Romanian or any other nationality for this matter.
Of course, there are many things that all Romanians have in common, among which the language, the cuisine, the friendliness (at least that’s what I want to believe), and other things linked to traditional outfits, music, dance, film and history. And I am happy to confirm it, to even emphasize that Romanians, be it home or abroad, keep in their hearts those moments in time and history that contributed to the creation of our nation.
These days, it’s not easy being Romanian, as much as it is not easy being any other Eastern European or a non-European on the old continent and in the extended western world. Sadly, certain countries and some of their people are still patronising and offensive in their behaviour and political engagement, leaving a bitter taste on many people’s lips.
But, I don’t want to spend more time on that. I would like to rather use this opportunity to encourage each and all of you to be avid learners of others’ cultures and origins, to seize the oportunity and become wiser, smarter and better-equiped for today’s globalised world.
Yes, we do live in a global-oriented world, but that doesn’t mean that people’s characteristics are or that they should become standardised, but rather that it is more important than never to respect, appreciate and tolerate others, no matter their ethnicity, nationality, physical traits, fashion style or music taste.
I am happy and grateful that I was born in a middle-class Romanian family, in the region of Maramures, having the parents that I have, the family that shaped my transition to adulthood and mostly to have infinite reasons to pe proud of other succesful and hard-working Romanians that have made the world a better place.
I am just one person, and of course I want to be respected for the values that I stand for, but I also know that it would be simply too complicated to understand billions of people based on their unique and personal choices. Therefore, stereotypes do make sense to some extent, but they should certainly not be misused to the outrageous degree that they are used today.
This being said, I want to wish all Romanians, no matter where they are, or how much they have succeeded or failed to date, to embrace their strengths and weaknesses, to not tolerate anyone’s wrong judgements or mistreatment and to always think that one’s belonging to a nation or more, is a blessing as much as one’s belonging to a family is.
Finally, I wish everyone Happy National Day on December 1 and let’s hope that Romania will soon become our permanent homes again, if that is what we truly wish for, with less and less people leaving their families and children behind for a better-paid salary and life in a more efficient, well-developed society.
We have a lot of potential, we have natural resources, human talent, we belong to international organisations that make today’s decisions in the world, we have had 25 years to make the transition from communism to real democracy, there are no more excuses!
Now, we need the long-term strategy and vision, the strength and maturity to vote for the right people to represent our nation. Individual change first impacts on the local community, but it then creates further fundamental and systematic transformations and encourages others to act.
Let’s learn from past mistakes and be determined enough to build the future that we all deserve!