This book had its starting point in the correspondence between Mihai from Romania and Yvette from Sweden, between the years 1985-2011. This friendship made a big impact on both their lives, despite only meeting in person once for an hour in Mamaia, Romania in 1985 (in picture).
The first part looks at Communism through the eyes of two teenagers, Mihai in closed Romania and Yvette in open Sweden. Dreams about going abroad glues the second part together. Mihai wants to get out of Romania for the simple reason of living his life in a free, open and democratic society, Yvette for the lust for adventure and seeing the world. The last part is about new Europe and the new Europeans, the Eastern – Europeans and more specifically the Romanians. How do attitudes towards Eastern Europe still color views in the West ? The last part also brings the adult Mihai and adult Yvette into the Romania of today, which still struggles, but could be blossoming with all the resources the country has.
Below is a first extract from the book:
The family lived in Constanta, by the Black Sea. As a matter of fact, only ten minutes away from the sea. The house had 4 rooms, bathroom, hallway, kitchen,1 small warehouse in the back, 2 separate small rooms outside and you could store things between the roof and ceiling. Outside they kept a vegetable garden.
They had a few chickens, a few ducks and geese. They had plenty of vegetables: tomatoes, cucumber, green beans, hot peppers, paprikas, grape vines , herbs like mint, basil, thyme, dill, parsley. They had green spring onion, yellow onion, potatoes, fruit trees such as a fig tree, which split and went dry then died exactly on the day Stan died.
-The family also had beautiful roses! Angelina made rose confiture from the big, thick petals. How wonderful that must have been, in Ceausescu’s Romania, to have the joy of smelling the making of the confiture and the tasting of that heavenly jam. Some colour in the grey.
Their home had a nice outside area with a grape vine hanging over a patio. For hot summer days this was a great place to sit under, eat and talk. Summers were indeed long and could be very hot. Commonly summer was playing around +30-40 C degrees in Constanta.
Nina had a pleasant and friendly, yet very strong and focused personality. She was working and teaching up in Zamostea . The 1970s were times when Ceausescu’s Communism controlled the Romanian society. For example, at work – places short skirts were not allowed among women, but the stories told by her ex-colleagues, reveal that Nina was truly revolutionary and courageous at all levels. She put her short skirts on, taught biology and all her students and all staff loved her for her omnipresent boldness.
However,one of her colleagues ratted her out to the Ministry of Education, so they sent an inspector to check on her. The inspector came, and was told by Nina, to either get out of the class -room and wait until she finished teaching the class or stay in the class and be quiet.
The inspector got so impressed by her way of teaching that instead of punishing her for wearing short skirts, congratulated her and gave her the best reference.
This was unheard of at that time. The inspector must have been courageous too.
Nina’s courage was at least praised ! She went her own, fierce way. Paved the way. She had a strong spine and integrity.
A window to my soul is a book for people who are interested in the the development of the new Europe and wish to build positive collaborations between West and East, for those who are interested in leadership and for those who want to be inspired by a story of a very special friendship and love.
English is chosen to reach out to as many people as possible. The author Yvette Larsson holds a Masters of Arts in English and an Upper Secondary School Teacher diploma in English. She has also lived 3 years in London and spent 6 months in Manchester on a University exchange programme.
By Yvette Larrson, Guest Writer
Yvette Larsson is Swedish, born 1972 in Gällivare, Lapland. Between the years 1991- 1998 she studied English, Swedish, Education, Media & Communication and Science Journalism at the University of Umeå.
The University studies followed by one year in Stockholm and 13 years abroad. First overseas move was to French Reunion Island, followed by Stavanger/Bergen:Norway, Cassis/ Aix-en-Provence: France, London: UK, and now Copenhagen: Denmark.
Her continuous education constitutes of numerous courses within the field of Sports and Health and she dedicated ten years to Sports Management. When the children came she trained to become a Coach and Leadership Trainer, passionate about making individuals and organisations the best they can be, and she had her own practice for four years.
(photo: Yvette Larsson)