[EN] 1. Getting out of the box

I’m at Georgetown University, in their 4 star hotel. I just arrived here after over 2 flights and many hours of waiting in airports. After 24 hours of that, I arrived literally in IAD–Washington Dulles International Airport (in Romanian IAD=HELL), where I had to wait for another 3 hours for baggage claim and passport check.

At the hotel, I feel like I am in heaven–a good bed and plenty of good food is waiting for me. I’m not alone, we are 93 change makers from all over the world from over 50 countries, including Syria, Ukraine, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Ghana, Vietnam, Mongolia, Palestine, etc. We are united by the same wish to make our life meaningful and yet our profiles are extremely different. Some handle funds of millions of dollars, others cannot even realize how much this sum of money represent. Some people (like me) come from a country where the internet is almost free and very fast, while others had to travel to other cities in order to connect to the great internet and send their application to this program. Some others have to go back in no less than 4 months to countries that are at war.

We are being spoiled with a lot of food and luxury while discussing topics related to poverty, infant mortality, refugees. I am no longer that happy with this context…

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Day 3 already. I am so beaten by this jetlag and  probably have coffee running through my veins and I absolutely hate this hot humid weather outside, and the cold air conditioning inside. All I want is to sleep but here I am, stuck in a workshop on tech and transparency and how to use them both for a better world.  Oh, we also discuss public administration and I’m the only one coming from there so people look at me very suspicious.

I feel like a ‘I-know-it-all’ and I’m kind of bored, because the advice we receive is general: use Facebook, Twitter, etc. I am creating a list of what I could have done better at the ministry of labor. We should have published even more data in open format, that’s clear. We should have risked more and just publish contracts and all the misery we found there.

“Really good ideas, but what should we do when we’re in danger of being killed if we publish something like this? We don’t actually have access to internet and they got us arrested last year only for using Facebook”, I hear a colleague saying.

get-out-of-the-boxOoookkk. I have never really felt threatened in my own country for being against the values of the system in place. It is true that I was laughing with Chiru and I was telling her we should be more careful while crossing the street and that I said ‘good bye’ to my privacy via internet & phone, but I was (I hope so!!) just making a drama out of it.

Maybe we don’t see it yet, but Romania is privileged to this regard. I did not see this when the elephant was too big in front of me, but we have the tools for change.
We are a mix of freedom, authenticity and adrift. I realize now that the most dedicated people I know are Romanian. We are still one foot outside the box to acknowledge false freedom in a beautiful box full of rules, and corruption in its various forms, dictatorship and injustice. We have a freedom of the press that allows us on one hand to have Casa Jurnalistului, Decât o revistă, RISE project and totally manipulating, politicized and unfair media on the other hand.

I become suddenly scared, a physical reaction. I hope that the  Stockholm syndrome will not be more powerful this time, during the Romanian elections. I come back to where I am and enter the discussion. I want to answer my colleague’s question, but I have no idea which words I can possibly use.

In less than week, I will be part of the team that coordinates the Africa Integrity Indicators. I’ll work with researchers from some difficult countries including Gambia, Ghana, Malawi or Zambia. Eritrea will not be a stranger. I just started to go a little out of the box. I guess this is why I’m here.