I am from Romania. One thing that I was afraid of was the reaction I could get from foreigners when I say I am from Romania. I was convinced that many people in Western Europe would hear Romania and think “gipsy”, which is in many people’s minds related to someone bad. After four months in Spain, I decided to take a deeper look at this situation.
I am from Romania. One thing that I was afraid of was the reaction I could get from foreigners when I say I am from Romania. I was convinced that many people in Western Europe would hear Romania and think “gipsy”, which is in many people’s minds related to someone bad. There is obviously something very wrong with this association, and I strongly believe that the Roma community should not be seen through the actions of some individuals. Nonetheless, the association and the stereotypes about Romanians exist, and it was a dooming prospect with which I entered Spain in 2015.
Romania is country in Eastern Europe with a strong Roma ethnic minority or generally known as gipsy community. Over the last 10 years a number of Romanian citizens of Roma ethnicity have immigrated temporarily or permanently in other European countries, mostly in the West. Growing up I had seen on T.V. multiple conflicts between the Roma population and foreign authorities. Most conflicts were direct results of illegal activities of the Roma ethnics, and although I believe there should be a debate about why these take place and how we can help solve the causes, I was shocked by the extreme reactions that foreigners had. There was a lot of confusion about Roma population as a minority and the Romanian population as a nation, and many feared that the line between them was blurred. There were talks about our reputation as a nation because of these incidents, and one could always find international reports which showed the immigration of Romanians in Western countries as a somewhat apocalyptic event.
So far, my personal fear about how I would be perceived had turned out to be unfounded. I have said numerous times that I am Romanian, yet I can count on two hands the times people reacted with a question about the Roma community. This makes me very happy, because I can see that the association is not as popular as I thought. The reason why I am writing this today is because of a conversation in my Spanish class about gipsy communities around Europe. Having heard from Spanish, French, Portuguese and Polish people about their contact with members of this minority I decided to think more about this sensitive subject. They all suggested fear and violence connected with this minority. This scares me, because I see that this minority has a very bad reputation, and I believe it’s a wall between ignorance and solutions. What I do mean by this wall is the fact that, although their fear might be justified in some cases, it stops people from looking beyond these incidents and see people. I know that their culture is very different, and some things are unacceptable for anyone with awareness about human rights and democracy, such as child marriage or school abandonment, but the conversation about integration should continue. I understand the difficulties due to cultural differences, but I truly hope that there’s a way to adapt a culture to human right’ standards and not disappear.