The books I read in my childhood about India had a great impact in my life and the person I am today: I call it the Julio Verne effect. Those stories about other cultures got stuck in my memory, and I promised myself that someday I’d live in another culture, different from mine. I also liked to read The Little Prince, Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse, or the Romanian author Mircea Eliade who wrote “Maitreyi” and “India”, and although he wrote them so many years ago, I found many similarities with my own story later on.
I started my career in Human Resources and Personal Training while I was still very young. At 26, I decided to have an international experience doing some small professional projects, and I chose India because it was related to those stories that I’d read as a child. In there, I had a cultural shock associated with the positivism and constructivism of Indians. Through my eyes, the only things I saw in India were problems, sickness, filth, noise… I was furious at all the negative things that didn’t work in that country.
I reached a point where I said to myself: “Let’s see. If I decided to live here and I want to enjoy the experience, I have to let it be.” I stopped thinking about how things should be so they made sense to me, nothing had to be similar to Romania, nor fit my perspectives, I simply had to enjoy the experience without complaining about it. Since then, things changed and I started truly living in India. That thought of “Let it be. Enjoy the moment without judgement. Look at the world as it is” changed my way of thinking. Still now, that change has been very important in my life.
It’s said that India is like a mirror, and I’m convinced that any country or place can be a mirror for the newcomer. For me, it was a mirror where I could only see, at first, the things that I didn’t like about me, and about the place. But once I changed my perspective of the reflection, I saw things that I hadn’t seen before. Living there, I realized that everything I read about Romania was very negative, and I thought: “Wow, it’s the worst place in the world! Nothing works, there are lots of problems.” Then, standing between these two realities I had the idea of gathering good practices and making a collection of things that went well in Romania.
I spoke with a friend to make a simple blog where I could collect all that constructive and positive information about Romania. We started with stories about examples of individuals and organizations that develop positive initiatives and good practices in Romania. All of that happened in 2006, the idea took a couple of years to develop. Today it’s become a platform with a four-member team and some 30 institutions that publish news on their field of action. We cover every sphere: business, culture, sports, education, management and social entrepreneurship. We’re not a media outlet, our idea started as an educational project and we’ve been developing it on that line. We’ve incorporated training, workshops, lectures. It’s a space where you can see what others have achieved and get inspired.
Although I work with positive examples, we don’t ignore the reality that affects us and the problems that beset us. I have noticed a change in attitude in the last two years. Many people are concerned, frustrated and angry with what’s happened and keeps happening in politics, with the lack of infrastructures, the poor management of cities, the serious sanitation and education problems. We must first become aware so we can involve ourselves in the change we want. Getting angry is part of the process, because if something angers you, you’ll surely want to solve it. It’s about taking control and start changing things. Understanding that for each of these problems, there’s a chance to do something, even though “doing something” means something different for each person.
There’s a lot of my “let it be” philosophy in the story of Positive Romania. Observe your reality, your family, your friends, city, work and try to simply live it. There are always problems, and surely you can get angry, but that’s not enough: Do something to change it, or let it be. Of course, it’s not easy to keep that spirit, I have ups and downs, it normally happens to me two or three times a year and then I ask myself: Is it worth it? Does this represent me? Do I have the energy and drive to keep going? If the answer’s yes, that means I have to go on.
Perhaps that’s the change that I’d like to see in the future: to see more people involved and aware of what’s happening around them. I want to see that our project has an impact, which is a personal goal to me. I want a positive change for my immediate surroundings and the society I live in.