Marina Pislaru

marinaCultural Awareness/Human Rights/Development/Initiative

“I was born and raised in an ex-communist country, where people’s sense of initiative has been annihilated,” Marina Pislaru says, referring to a majority of Romanian citizens languishing under the Communist legacy of social passiveness and alienation. “Communist generations, my family included, complain about issues, waiting for the state to take care of every small aspect of life in community. My generation had to reinforce the notion of autonomy, community responsibility, initiative, and civic involvement.”

Struggling against this legacy, Marina constantly motivates herself to get out of her comfort zone and improve herself because it’s up to young people to share, promote and implement their ideas for a new social attitude. What concerns her is social equality and justice, migrants and the phenomenon of migration, minorities, social conflicts, human rights, and international cooperation. “I am interested in how to avoid/reduce/prevent social dissensions due to cultural tensions and how to promote instead social cohesion and stability.”

She pursues the influence of international exchanges such as HSI. “While I was doing different study visits and voluntary work in places touched by conflicts such as Jordan or Kosovo, I noticed how post-war negative attitudes and tensions prevent people from moving on in a constructive way,” Marina says. Her personal experience with a political asylum seeker from Kosovo, influenced Marina profoundly. “I witnessed the whole process that changed her life: feelings of confusion and insecurity while leaving everything behind (family, friends, status, job), a life destroyed while trying to build a new one, while her future depends on other people’s decisions.” Marina met so many others sharing similar stories and realized how little statistics on the migration phenomenon and displaced people convey of the destruction of people’s lives.

She experienced the sting of prejudice in Western Europe. Migratory ethnic groups who choose to be called Roma are, in fact, citizens of Romania, but are confused with Romanians in general. When Marina revealed her Romanian citizenship, conversations occasionally turned cold or stopped because of discriminatory stereotypes of the Roma—which political groups have used to stir racially based conflicts. A solution might begin with a better integration of the Roma people, both in their Romanian communities and abroad, because the prejudices exist due to a lack of understanding of culture and this particular migration phenomenon.

Another migration problem involves people of Romanian heritage in Moldova who favor the EU and NATO in opposition to Russia’s influence. A potential conflict could flare over Romanian-Moldovans rejoining Romania. Romanian dependence on Russia for gas imports complicates matters. Tensions surrounding the Arab Spring have reverberated through Romanian communities and businesses in conflicted areas, bringing higher gas and the fuel prices. Such upheavals do not stay local in today’s interconnected world. Experts in Marina’s field are greatly needed.

Working with an NGO in 2012, Maria was an EVS volunteer (European Voluntary Service sponsored by the European Commission) in Jordan where Palestinian refugees represent 70% of the population in Amman. Syrian refugee camps in Jordan have become a strong economic burden for the small country. Marina was selected to be a team leader, dealing with project goals of breaking down stereotypes and prejudices through intercultural awareness and friendship. Marina organized and motivated the group but learned that when personal conflict between members occurs, a leader must stay committed, focused on the goals, and set a high moral example.

To help address cultural conflict, Marina attended the Mitrovica University in Kosovo, on EU Enlargement and Migration and is seeking to enroll in the International Migration and Social Cohesion Master’s Program as well as an internship at OSCE, at the High Commissioner on National Minorities’ Office.