marți, 30 iulie 2013

Romanians abroad - what does it mean?

Nearly 25 years after the fall of the totalitarian system, Romania still has trouble to truly recognise the realities of 2013. In this message I want to address an issue that is obsessively covered in the Romanian media: famous Romanians abroad, and - even more spectacular - their return to the country.

It is true that before 1989 one lived either in the country or abroad. It was not easy to fluidly go abroad and come back. Yet there are still traces of this ‘trauma’ in the collective Romanian language. When Romanians tell people that they will leave the country, it is as if witnessing something definite, without escape, without return. However, Romanians were accustomed to travelling. The older generation still remembers the famous departure of Romanian peasants in the early twentieth century. They went to find work in the United States - in Chicago or Detroit, and return to Romania after 2-3 years. With the earned income they would buy a pair of horses to work the land efficiently. But nobody said that they left the country.

Entrenched in communist dictatorship, Romania lost the meaning of European or global mobility. Pushed by the opportunities offered by globalization, the Brits, Dutch, French and other nations sought life outside their country. No one believes that a Dutch working for a company doing oil extraction in Russia left the country, just as the Germans working in the financial sector in New York did not actually leave Germany. They seek to increase their quality of life when the opportunity presented itself.

We also have examples of compatriots that you can hardly pinpoint geographically to a certain area. Nadia Comaneci is, for example, sailing smoothly between the U.S. and Romania.  Did Nadia leave Romania? Is she back now? Yes, she left the country during the communist times, but now she is in the country and abroad at the same time. Ion Țiriac has a similar situation. He's in the country and then in a lodge at Roland Garros, without you even realise it.

We should not be surprised that there are foreigners who are impressed by the beauty of our country and decided to settle with us. It's normal - it's globalization and it’s the contemporary system. That Dutch people are camping near Cluj is similar to dozens of other Dutch operating camp sites in Spain, Portugal, Greece or even Mozambique. Are we really so amazed at a French man living in Romania for 5 years, representing a multinational? Well, if you know he has a salary of 10,000 euro per month, the situation looks more realistic. However, that same year the guy could go to China if a company proposes a contract there from already 10,001 euro per month.

We cannot speak about ‘Romanians abroad’ and the ‘Romanians who chose to resist’: those who chose to stay in the country ˝sacrificing˝ themselves for the country as it is what one has to do. Currently there are Romanians with the courage to try the wide world, to leave their mark in other places, to learn to think in other languages, to discover the real meaning of cultural tolerance. We can meet Romanians in Germany, Spain, Canada, the U.S., and even in Brussels. They are not static: they could be in New Zealand today, and have a life and job in the UK tomorrow. Traveling, discovering, accumulating knowledge – these things are unimaginably useful. I know thousands of Romanians, present in Brazilian pharmaceutical companies, American IT companies, London’s financial heart, or in Germany, coordinating infrastructure projects.

I live in Belgium already for over 16 years, but I did not leave Romania. Only in the last 12 months I went to the country 8 times, and have travelled in another 15 countries across three continents. I am Romanian and will remain Romanian all my life, even if my wife is Dutch, and our three children were born in Belgium.

Welcome to the realities of globalization in 2013 Romania!

Dan LUCA / Brussels

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