Wednesday, September 06, 2006

O scrisoare de o adolescenta

I want to share parts of an e-mail from Olga, a 16-year-old student at the prestigious (and Pan Romanian-leaning) Prometeu Lyceum in Chisinau. After we met at Moldova's Independence Day celebration, she read my blog and had some things to say (I have made some slight grammatical corrections to her writing for better readability):

Why should I be proud for some kind of decision made 15 years ago? I don't feel free after this decision, as the only place where I am not afraid to say what I feel and think is my school, which fights hard for our independence and still teaches us Romanian (the correct form of the language, not "Moldavian," a word that I can hardly pronounce).

I saw you talked about Limba Noastra too, and the problem we are confronting with the Russian speakers. If you were in Chisinau on the 31st of August you would have been very disappointed just as all of us were. President Voronin came from his journey from Greece specially for the 27th important holiday, but he decided to visit the Czech Republic on the 31st, a holiday with no sense for him but much more important for me and many others. In the center of the city there were no concerts. Nothing. Just some awful folk music with no sense at the lakeside amphitheater.

I am tired of leaving the shops just for the reason that the shop assistant can't give me the thing I need because she says she does not understand Romanian and I say I don't understand Russian (though I know it perfectly). My grandmother is told to speak like a human being (as if Romanian is not a good language) if she asks something in Romanian.

We all still bear the consequences of the USSR system. I give myself as an example. All the 2005-2006 year of study I was fighting and getting good marks because my parents promised to send me to France for the wedding of my aunt.

That was the dream of my life, everything I ever wanted. I got great marks at my exams; I studied extra French and got the greatest marks from my group. When I got tickets and went for my passport all I saw was "visa refused". Why? You can't ask. But from their short sentences I understood: you are from an ex-sovietic country and we risk the fact that you may like the civilization from there so as to never come back here. So everything was ruined, all my dreams, all my hopes.

And when you wrote about the fireworks and the sentence with all the budget money that they are spending for 20 minutes of pleasure, I spread it. All of my friends laughed, but I was talking seriously because they could spend the money on something more useful like to give a better salary to my parents, both very good doctors that save lives, work hard and some persons don't even say thank you after a hard operation.

It's hard, really and if somehow I will escape from here I will just come back to see my relatives and that’s all. Nothing more attracts me here.

Once again, bravo for your reports. I liked them a lot.

I don't agree with everything she has written, but Olga is not the only Moldovan teenager who feels this way about her country. I fear that Moldova is losing an entire generation of some of its best and brightest young minds, who see the opportunities of the outside world and conclude that their home country has nothing to offer them.

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At 2:05 PM, Anonymous Lilia said...

I must agree that it is disappointing and depressing to live in a society where you feel uncomfortable. But I realized that leaving the country is not always a valid option. People (young people especially) should not plan their future to start when they are finally free to leave this “horrible, dreadful place”. It’s no heaven on earth, that’s for sure, but it’s not a hopelessly collapsing society either.

I also don’t have anything against people leaving Moldova for studies, (legal) work, etc. But many leave because they think that “the outside” is a better place, just because it’s not Moldova, which is sad. And not at all true.

Young people need to realize that they are not mere consumers of what their society has to offer, but also the most active part of it. So, if you want it to be fun, and interesting, stop complaining and start doing something about it. Get involved. It only depends on us if the country prospers or goes downhill in the future.

At 11:01 PM, Anonymous Adriana said...

I know Olga very well, and she is a great good friend of mine and I understand her point of view. There are actually many disappointed teenagers and young adults that believe that the rest of the world is a better place. When you love your country and try hard to do your best in everything, you allow yourself to be critical. I think that is fair enough.
My father is an international scientist, and I currently live in the UK, although I used to go to the same school as Olga. (Prometeu)
It is not a bad place, many people would even call it elite. The fact is that there are many teachers that try to do their best and help provide stimulating and thought-provoking lessons. I am really grateful for all the education that I have received there. It helped me get top grades in my English school, when I first arrived in UK. However, in spite of this there are many stereotypes that are attributed to Moldovan schools, in fact they are ascribed to the entire Eastern Europe. This is because it perhaps lacks some practical courses, and some more enjoyable workshops, as drama clubs, media studies, school newspaper, radio, sports, work experience etc. Punctuality and attendance are not its strongest points either.
I do agree with Olga, the language misunderstandings are a bit of a nuisance. I only studied Russian for two years, and I can barely understand it. However, all the films are translated in Russian, most of the festivals are in Russian. Moreover, something that I find quite peculiar is the fact that even if you meet a Moldovan, they start talking to you in Russian. And at times like these, you stop and wonder. Where are you really?
I love my language, Romanian, Moldovan, whatever it might be, and I believe that everyone should study it in schools. Similarly, Russian should be taught more thoroughly in Romanian schools. I am rather angry on myself that I never studied Russian properly, and decidedly feel a weakness of some sort when I go to Moldova and I am surrounded by Russian speaking people. However, as a proud Moldavian, I believe Romanian should be the foremost language in Moldova.

But Moldova is a lovely, picturesque place. As a matter of fact, there are many improvements going on there at the moment. I love Moldova and I truly miss it. I guess you start to see how wonderful it is when you are far away from it.

quote "It's hard, really and if somehow I will escape from here I will just come back to see my relatives and that’s all. Nothing more attracts me here." unquote

However, I have to disagree with this. I am sorry. I guess I am not quite the adequate person to say this, since I am not in Moldova. However, this is my unbiased point of view: the word "escape" is a bit exaggerated. If you want to escape anything, it should be poverty, wars, crime, drugs, etc. I might be blind or naive, but if you would compare Moldova to other third world countries (as Moldova is considered as such) or even second world countries, you would see that Moldova is a much better place, in any case, Chisinau is. I am probably saying all these things, because you do start to see everything in a different light when you are far away.

I have no idea how I would be reacting or what I would be doing, if I would have been living there. However, there was never a time when my friends or I did not feel safe in Moldova, there was no fear of losing your house, dieing of starvation, straying off the tracks etc.

Yes, I do understand her, I would like to finish my education here, maybe have a job. This is actually Moldova’s problem: its lack of jobs. Therefore its young citizens prefer to go out into the big wide world, seeking a better salary, a more enjoyable profession. However, it does sound rather cruel to say that there is nothing more that would attract you to Moldova.

Something else that I feel strongly about is the visa situation. I just believe it is so unjust and inhumane to favour some people over others, just because they weren't born in a privileged country. Because of that, so many Moldavians have to put up with a rude refusal in their passports. A young person like Olga, kind, intelligent and honest, who has worked hard all year, and wasn't planning to remain there illegally, should not have felt their rejection.

I am sad that I can't go to Moldova more frequently. (The plane tickets are far too expensive, since Moldova's airplane market is dominated by a monopoly)

I know this is too long, and if anyone was patient enough to read it, thanks for bearing with me!

At 3:11 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So funny, if a russian does not speak Romanian, that is excusable, understandable and no one would dare to say that it is out of his bad will and disregard or lack of respect for Romanian. They have felt and been masters in here, a "fucking superior race" for so long, they never felt the need of learning the language of the land.
The "poor darlings" just do not understand it.............what can you say more to it, their mind is just set so......let's hope that in 40 years all the slaves will die out....and we shall not feel anymore as if we owe something to someone, to speak their language and do everything to make them feel comfortable in our own house....whom make comforatable....some f.... g strangers

At 10:51 PM, Anonymous Anatol said...

Perhaps Olga does not know that the reason there is going to be an entire generation is due to one true fact: USA and all the Western world which make the poor poorer gaining "market share" and brainwashing the whole world with "democracy".


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