In response to the small-minded, xenophobic scare-mongering of some politicians and quite a few journalists – all of whom should know better – I am starting a Twitter campaign called #TheRomaniansAreComing. I’d like everyone who does know better to join in and start spreading the word about the contributions people of all nations – from the East as well as the West – make to our joint cultural heritage; from literature, art, drama, music, poetry to cuisine and science.
After a week in which the UK was branded the ‘nasty country’, it’s time to start reminding people on this island that nations are more than a sum of their population; they are the ideas and creativity that they produce and offer out into the wider world for the enrichment of our common humanity. Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia…these are all new/newish members of the EU but they do not come into the club as beggars with nothing more to show than an open hand (for begging of course) and a foreign tongue. These countries all have histories and cultural traditions, have spent time and money educating their population through primary education, music education, sports education, and specialised training schemes. As a consequence, they offer a whole range of skills, experience and knowledge.
Yesterday I spoke about this phenomena to George Stanica, a Romanian writer and translator who has been living in London for more than twenty years and supplements his income working as an interpreter in the law courts and police stations. When I asked him if he expected as huge influx of Romanians after the restrictions have been lifted at the end of the year, he gave a completely different perspective. Rather than an influx of manual labourers, he thought it far more likely that Britain would attract graduates and skilled workers like doctors and nurses, whose wages are pitiably low in their home country and are likely to be attracted by better conditions. This is of course, can only be of benefit to us, while is a sad loss for the people of Romania – those very same people who we are accusing of wanting to drain us of our resources.
Over the next few weeks – as we lead up to the 31Dec deadline on the end to the ban on certain people from the Eastern EU – I will be highlighting the Romanians who have contributed to European culture over the decades. In this way, I hope to counterbalance the negative stereotypes that the press think normal people want to hear about. Please join in with your own positive examples. Myself, I prefer to see the world through exceptions rather than stereotypes: it’s a much brighter place, full of interesting individuals….