Cristiana Grigore

December 31st, 2011

VOA The Student Union American Culture: Out of the Movies and into Daily Reality

My collaboration with Voice of America (VOA) started with an interview about my Roma identity.  It continues with a series of articles about studying in the United States for VOA’s Student Union Blog. The first article is about the way American culture is exported through movies and other forms of pop culture. Starting school in Romania, immediately after the end of Communism, I grew up influenced by Western culture and democratic values. When I visited the United States for the first time, I was pleased to discover similarities with my American friends, despite the fact that we grew up on different continents. In this article I also share memories from my first very summer in the United States (2006) and describe the way I experienced the American Dream. 

While I was watching American shows and movies on Romanian television, the décor  around me became surprisingly similar to that on the screen. The small colored houses, with ducks and chicken raised in the backyards, were replaced by large, beige homes with perfectly cut grass, bird feeders and playful pets. The gray, block, low-rise buildings became taller, and the more I looked at them, the more they seemed like modern glass skyscrapers. Was I dreaming? When and how did this transformation happen?

One typical American experience - hanging out at the pool!One typical American experience – hanging out at the pool!

The change began with the first waves of democracy and modernity in Romania after the 1989 Revolution. To my delight as a child, long Communist speeches were replaced by exciting Western shows, movies and cartoons. More

December 29th, 2011

VANDERBILT Between Two Worlds

In june 2011 I was the subject of a profile, in Vanderbilt View, main magazine for Vanderbilt University. My biggest challenge in the last few years, as the title In between Two Worlds very well suggests, was to find a way to explore my newly accepted Roma identity and being part of an ethnic minority while not giving up on my activities and my previously formed identity – of growing up being part of the mainstream society. This article is a synthesis of this dynamics and presents my various interests  and activities, my academic and personal development at Vanderbilt along with my journey of accepting and understanding my Roma roots in a global context. I am very honored for this collaboration and grateful for my story being shared with the Vanderbilt community. 

Cristiana Grigore is outgoing and energetic. She is passionate and proud. She’s a rebel and a reformer.

She also is Roma.

The last label is one she has long resisted but now embraces. Roma are the largest ethnic minority in Grigore’s native Romania and in much of Europe. They are persecuted, marginalized and often live in poverty. Sometimes referred to as gypsies, they are known for their colorful clothing, nomadic lifestyle and dark skin and hair. They are sometimes reviled as thieves and considered intellectually inferior.

Although some idealize the Roma for their Bohemian lifestyle – they are known as travelers who freely live outside the system, for example – recent movements have sought to drive them out of France and Italy. More

December 28th, 2011

VOA For Roma, Life in US Has Challenges

In the spring of 2011, I was featured in a Voice of America (VOA) piece about Roma people in the U.S. VOA is the broadcasting institution of the U.S. federal government.  Once a source of radio news, it has expanded with technology to include TV and internet programming. The interview was broadcast on International Romani Day, April 8. Since the beginning, my collaboration with VOA was very pleasant and beautiful. I had the great pleasure to collaborate with the wonderful producers: Glenn Kates and Valer Gregory. I learned many new things from them about media, television, and journalism. The interview was filmed at Vanderbilt, and it includes a few scenes of me doing ballet as well as some family photos. In this interview I discuss the differences in the way “Gypsies” are perceived in US and Europe and also touch on the distinction between the Gypsy lifestyle and Roma ethnicity.

April 8 is International Day of the Roma. Romani communities in Europe face a variety of challenges. Last month the European Court of Human Rights began hearings in the case of a Romani woman from Slovakia who says she was sterilized against her will. And France’s decision to expel Romani immigrants living in temporary settlements was met with consternation by human rights activists.

But do similar issues surface in Romani communities outside of Europe? In the United States, the country’s cultural diversity provides Roma with both benefits and drawbacks.

In the shadows

Cristiana Grigore studies at Vanderbilt University in the U.S. state of Tennessee – on a prestigious Fulbright scholarship. Grigore is Romanian. She is also Romani, or Roma, part of an ethnic group often referred to as Gypsies.

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