#Imagine the United States, through the lens of Ross

Ross

-Imagine a World with No Fear of War-

Ross Wood is from the state of Virginia in the United States. Over the last five years he has spent time working in support of marginalized people in Morocco, Israel, Kenya, and South Sudan. Most recently he served as the Area Coordinator of the Yida Refugee Camp on the border between Sudan and South Sudan. Currently, Ross is pursuing a Master’s degree in Conflict, Security, and Development at the University of Bradford’s Peace Studies Center as a Rotary Peace Fellow.

 In the winter of 1963 my grandma begged my granddad to move away from their life-long home in Columbia, South Carolina. My grandma was terrified that the eastern seaboard of the United States would be the first place to be hit once nuclear war broke out, and she wanted to give her two children a chance to live in the mid-West of the country where she thought bombs could not reach. My granddad, not wanting to leave his home, tried to soothe my grandma’s fears to no avail. Finally, as my grandma was packing suitcases to make ready for the trip to South Dakota (or so the story goes), they came to an agreement. My granddad hired a crew of five men to construct a solid concrete bomb shelter that sat fifteen feet underneath the foundations of their house.

 Beyond being afraid of mushroom clouds and nuclear winter, my grandma was afraid of what such a devastating explosion on American soil, no matter which city it obliterated, would do to the collective psyche of her community. She envisioned a scenario in which her Sunday tennis partners would transform from sweet, chatty ladies into hardened survivalists that would not hesitate to seize the safety of a known bomb shelter by force. With that grim thought in mind, my grandma insisted that the work crew dig in secret. She made sure that the entrance to the shelter was out of sight from the neighbors. Once the shelter was complete, she would stock it during the cover of night with enough canned goods to last four adults for a year.

 The bomb shelter became my grandparent’s greatest shared secret. No one, not even their two children, knew of its existence until November 9, 1986 when the Berlin Wall fell.

 From the perspective of a civilian living in the United States, fear and uncertainty characterized the state of global security during the period before the end of the Cold War. Civilians trembled at the thought of a powerful enemy with the ability to take out entire cities with the push of a button. Growing out of that fear, global security issues were considered in terms of the Cold War. The drug trade was thought to fund communism, and so the United States presented itself as justified in intervening in Latin America to stop narcotics trafficking. Civil wars in Africa and East Asia were deemed “proxy” wars and warranted intervention as remote Cold War battlegrounds. Put simply, before the end of the Cold War a fear of communism was a clear point of focus for the imaginings, both hopeful and terrible, of Americans.

Now that the Cold War is over, my grandma no longer trembles at the thought of a looming nuclear blast. The future that she hoped for, one in which the Cold War ended without a shot fired, went from an imagining to a reality. New fears, though, have materialized in the wake of that war. As for me, I imagine a world in which there is no fear of war. I hope that my imagining, like my grandma’s, will some day become a reality.

Advertisements

#Imagine Germany, through the lens of Jens

Jens

My name is Jens Koschel and I am 24 years old and originally from Berlin. I was born to an East German family just before the German reunification in 1990. I am a final year undergraduate in International Relations and Security Studies at the University of Bradford and extremely interested in history, politics and contemporary global affairs.

Germany is a great country, let me say that at the very beginning. But Germany has its faults, many of them, despite what the rest of the world might think at the moment. Yes, Germany is powerful and it is very successful, but what isn’t really shown and talked about is that the success does not reach everyone. I imagine an ideal Germany to be socially just and we Germans have the capability to be so, but we are not. At least not to the level that we could be.

25 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall there is still a division between East and West. People living in the East do not earn as much as their Western counterparts, Eastern pensioners do not get the same amount of money, despite having worked as much as everyone else. Stereotypes are still found on both sides of the former Iron Curtain.
We are a very liberal people, yet same-sex marriage is not allowed, because the most wonderful Dr. Merkel feels personally uncomfortable with the idea. Our current government managed to introduce a budget without making new debts, but which completely neglects much needed investment in higher education and infrastructure, unfairly creating a problem for future generations.

But it must not be this way. I imagine a Germany in which there is no space for racism and which welcomes refugees from all over the world, because we can grant them much needed safety. I imagine a Germany that is a true global leader and that speaks up for fairness and equality everywhere in the world and at home. I imagine a Germany that has freed itself from the shackles of its past, not denying its horrible crimes but is not bound by them either. I imagine a Germany that is more democratic, open and socially just that makes sure that everyone benefits from its wealth equally. I imagine a Germany that has understood and stands up to its responsibility at home and abroad.

I know this is possible, if all Germans work together as equals. And I know that this can be achieved in the near future. Actually I am confident that it will be. Germany is a great country, but it can be even greater.

***

Jens is the Secretary General of Braford MUN and pretty good at it too.

#Imagine Romania, through the lens of Alois

Alois

“Sometimes a dreamer, sometimes a realist, but more often than not, an idealist, I could easily blend into the crowd, but when it comes to showing who I am, facts speak louder than words. I like knowing everything that moves in the world, debating and sometimes cooking. A good book from time to time calms me down while a good game of chess pumps my mind up. That’s me, Alois

Located somewhere between the mighty Danube river to the South, the quiet Prut river to the East, the giant Ukraine to the North and near the Hungarian Panonic Plain to the West, Romania is a country of contrasts.

It is said that home is where the heart is, and for me, Romania is deeply engraved in my heart with all its peculiarities, beauties, desires and future. Born through the union of the great Roman Empire and the realm of the Dacians, Romania has Latin blood, Slavonic dishes, Turkic words and Western aspirations. Centuries of survival between three of the world’s greatest Empires: The Russian Empire, The Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Ottoman Empire, each seeking to take over its blessed plains and sky-piercing mountains, have taught Romania words such as resilience, ambition, courage, faith and hope.

Romania is not your typical country, but a country which rests at the border between Western modernity and Eastern traditionalism, which makes Romanians an exotic blend of past and future.

In the five decades spanning from the end of the Second World War all the way through to the year when the Berlin Wall fell, Romania has been subjected to the dark and heavy coat of communism which covered every dream for sustainable development, leaving post-1989 a country that had lost its compass. Desperately looking towards the West, but with the chains of the past still clinging on to her, Romania began a long and treacherous road towards development.

But the country is still far away from reaching its full potential, and the hopes and dreams of Romanians to have a “country like abroad”, like a famous Romanian band says, are helping bit by bit to put together the building blocks of the future.

I imagine a Romania with a new heart: hopeful and optimist rather than cynical and fatalist. I see Romanians finally content with their country’s economy and its leadership, proud of its historical legacy, traditions and culture. The image where in Romania everything is done righteously, selflessly and consciously is an image of prosperity and development. I imagine a Romania deeply connected from East to West and North to South through an intricate network of highways, railways and air paths, a Romania which is energetically independent, a Romania which is a stronger regional actor and a more committed Euro-Atlantic partner, a Romania which advocates for the respect of human rights and is involved in international efforts to advance the human rights agenda, a country which takes praise in the diversity of its minorities and promotes her millenary cultural and historic legacy. I imagine a Romania taking better care of its citizens and ensuring the best conditions for their development, a Romania that respects itself.

I hope that these desires and endeavours will not be forgotten in the realm of dreams, but will become reality sooner rather than later.

***

Alois and I are members of  Bradford Model United Nations Society. Look out for him in the future as a leader.