I am trying to incorporate Rroma into my masters thesis. I want to make it personal but... I don't know how. I feel like no one Rroma is in Masters programs. I don't know who to ask or anything. I feel like I'm going to fail because I can't frame my own story. Does that even make sense? I feel it could be a chance to educate those in my program, my university, my area about Rroma and about our lives. No, we are not indigenous but we are still worthy of respect. We exist, we are not myth or magic. We are real. In America it is so different from in Europe. I feel like a split personality! I am two different, no three different people: Rroma, European, American.... 

and woman.

I wish that there were strong role models for us to follow. I only know two Rroma who went through school--Petra Gelbart and Ian Hancock. I admire Petra so much. 

But, I think I have so far to go.

I want to educate people about being Rroma and about what it is like to grow up in all different places--Europe, America--as Rroma and a woman and trying to stay Rroma but be educated.

Do I make sense? I don't even know.

Views: 37

Comment by Stoimen on February 14, 2012 at 13:17

Dear Qristina,

Please, click the Who is Who button on the main page. You will find many educated Roma and the number in Europe is increasing.

I admit, however, that the situation in Europe is bad. In spite of many reports and complaints, the segregation in schools is a fact. Romani children are denied mainstream education and forced to follow lessons in special class-rooms or schools. In Czech Republic the name special schools has been changed into practical schools. Research by UK based Equality has proved that only a few percents of Romani children have difficulties in learning. The overwhelming majority is denied access for purely racist reasons.

It also happens (in Bulgaria for example) that mainstream schools register Romani children, in order to increase their financial support based on the number of pupils. In reality the children are not allowed to enter the school. They only exist on paper.

One more category of Romani youth that does not follow proper education, are children born from extremely poor families. There the food situation is dominating every day's schedule.

I believe that mainstream society is in need of education to the same level as many Romani children. Let's brainstorm on this. Petra Gelbart is doing a great job and we can learn from her how to approach schools and universities.

Comment by Qristina Zavačková Cummings on February 14, 2012 at 18:02

I would love to do that. It is my dream to be able to help educate people. I agree that a large part of the problem is mainstream society, which has very little (none?) idea of Romani children's situations. When I was growing up, I was the only one in my familija to stay beyond age 12. My father didn't really go to school--so there was not a culture of education in our region. There was no support for my desire to stay in school--I was encouraged to drop out, be wife, be mother, be romnji. It was said that because I wanted to stay in school, that I wanted to be like gadže, which isn't it at all. I just wanted to learn--and I wanted to read books! Lots of books!

I know that in many European countries that Romani children are not permitted in mainstream schools (in some places I read that it's higher than 80% of all Roma are forced into special education), which really doesn't encourage integration or education. Even though some countries say that the situation has improved, how can it? There is so much outright hostility towards Roma in Europe, schooling is the last on the agenda. 

I have guest lectured several classes at my University about Roma--mainly about the situation of Roma in Europe and the fact that there are many Roma in North America. Most are surprised to hear of it! I enjoyed helping them learn. Many ask though, is there a foundation or some way to support the children in learning or the families in having enough support that the children can go to school. I've always been unsure about that.

Comment by Stoimen on February 14, 2012 at 23:27

Dear Qristina,

It is very interesting to read about your own experience as a young girl. In UK there was a county that collected the stories of Romani school children in a book and distributed this book freely among other (non-Roma) pupils. It might be a good idea to do this in all European countries where segregation seems to be business as usual. If we manage to gather the stories of children themselves, we can easily expose existing prejudice.

I myself interviewed young Roma about their school life and found it very revealing and shocking. Very good that you posted the reports by Equality. Equality is on this site!

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