Last Sunday Bonton / DIGI24 broadcasted an interview with my children and I. We did the interview earlier this summer, in Mamaia, Navodari and Visina, by the Black Sea Coast.
Just take a moment and think about it on a deeper level. Here I am, a Swede loving Romania and wishing to spread the beauty and meaning of Romania to the world, in order to rebrand the country and fight prejudice with “WOW” and positive surprises, promoting strong role-models and beautiful places. Why ? Because I think its simply unfair that hardworking Romanians are looked upon with suspicion abroad and I think a beautiful country like Romania needs an deserves a better image. I was interviewed by a Romanian TV show for these reasons.
This would not happen if I was absorbed by Italy, France, or Spain.
I usually say that I rebrand Romania abroad, but if you dig one level deeper there is more to it. There is a strong wish, that is deeply rooted in me, that may not come through on a Facebook page, and that is to invite people in the west, to be curious instead of suspicious of Romania and eastern Europe. Why ? I meet many Romanians in Scandinavia, and through my Facebook page and blog I am in contact with many expatriated Romanian individuals all over the world. I know it is not easy to be Romanian in many places in Europe. I have listened to many stories and many of them say the same thing. How Romanians meet prejudice, suspicious looks and how Romanians feel they have to prove themselves only because they are from a country that is their home, Romania.
I have heard a number of different stories from Romanians : stories from Romanians who moved directly after 1989 and wish to come back, who are falling in love with their own country again. Romanians who moved early and don’t want to come back. I heard stories of young people who wants to move abroad because they can’t find a good job here and I heard stories from young people whose only desire is to stay, and to develop Romania. I heard of people who said they left with a thought of ever returning, but came back , stronger, and with the same wish as the younger ones , to contribute and build a better place in Romania.
What is the prejudice about ?
Here is my view, which may be different from yours.
I believe people in my age , around 40 years old, first of all remember the Communist days, they remember the badly kept orphanages and poverty. These are pictures that still stick to peoples minds. Today we add corruption and Roma problematics and it is difficult for , let’s say a Swede, to think of Romania in colour. When the word Romania comes up it is often painted in grey, brown and black.
We, who are either from here or travel often to Romania, all know about the problems and challenges in Romania, but we also know about other things. At the Bucharest Lounge I am widening the horizon, trying to make a 360 degrees description, I am sharing different perspectives than the ones media already set by their dramaturgy of good and bad, black and white, I am challenging the prejudice that exist, and hoping that the attitudes will change in time. I am glad you are here and wish to do it too !!!
Romania is perceived only from what is problematic and what is connected to politics.
It is like viewing Sweden only from its problems and politics.
There is more to a country than politics.
There are the people who inhabit the country too…….
I believe changing peoples’ minds and hearts means inviting people back here. I saw an increase in tourism only from when I started to travel in Romanian in 2011 and now, 2015. I see more foreigners coming here and I hear them being equally positively surprised about Romania. It makes me happy ! When forums and platforms are created for the human connection I think those are the moments when peoples’ attitudes can change. Romanians who go to a conference abroad, study abroad, or work abroad, I think those people are all ambassadors of Romania and how Romanians are perceieved.
My heart has been bleeding for this country sine 1985. I think that many who comes to the page see a page full of beauty ( I hope !) . I get , every now and again, emails from people who are angry with me, saying that Romania is not a pink fluffy place, and that I “should come and see for myself” . They don’t know of my long, close history with this country. They don’t know that I am ALWAYS with Romanians when in Romania, that I have very good friends here, that I have friends that I always visit every time I am here, who don’t want to be in a picture on Facebook! They don’t hear the discussions that I am part of by the dinner table at friend’s place, or the talks I have with people I interview, of which some things are private.
I have chosen my perspective for the Bucharest Lounge consciously. I have chosen to show beautiful places and introduce the viewer to different areas of Romania. A Romanian woman said to me ” We should stop focusing on the Carpathian Mountains”. Well, I said, ” Ask someone outside Romania if they even KNOW that there are even mountains here….” .
Besides beautiful places ( And there are lots of them in Romania.) I also promote people who inspire in their field, people who lead with example, people who are courageous and strong, who dares and challenge status quo, and who are also spreading the beauty and meaning of Romania to the world. I am drawn to projects that has information in English too. It is helpful when wanting to share the beauty and meaning of Romania to the world.
English is not my language.
I use English to reach out to as many people as possible.
What if I only wrote in Swedish…
As a person I am optimistic and driven. I am using those skills when I do things in my life, being work or private. At the Bucharest Lounge I have chosen to work with people who are also optimistic and driven. I would like to create an interactive map of all the people and projects that I am connected to via BL, for everyone to see how many grass root movements, organisations, and companies that exist out there, that want the same things. I would like to connect those initiatives and people, because I think together is stronger.
I hope you will have a fun, peaceful and relaxing Sunday !
– Yvette Larsson, Bucharest, 2015.