Sometimes you just have to write…
So I’m off to Romania on Monday — Doesn’t that sound so jetset! Actually, despite the fact that I’ve never been to Romania, and really, inside, I’m quite excited about the prospect, I keep having to tell myself that it’s probably going to be a bit of a slog, more than anything else.
You see, I’m arranging a student exchange for a group of our bilingual programme kids with a group of bilingual programme kids in Pitesti, Romania. So my team leader and I are going there for a few days. We’ve only communicated so far through e-mails and msn, so we feel like it’s time to see for ourselves. I fear we’re going to spend most of the time in planning sessions with their teachers.
Besides the usual things we’ll have to work out (what the rules will be, what activities the kids will do, who will stay where, etc), I’m particularly interested to find out about what kids in Romania are taught about morality.
Okay, I live in the Netherlands, so, you might think, such an issue never comes up in the land of legalized drugs and prostitution, but it does! First of all, I grew up in the US, so despite my very left-leaning upbringing, some of that conservative, save-it-till-marriage-or-at-least-don’t-let-your-parents-find-out, quasi-morality still clings to me like the smell of garlic.
I know, kids in the Netherlands are sexually active. Probably no more than kids in the States, but here they do it at home with the approval, or at least the resigned acceptance, of their parents, instead of secretively and desperately in the back seat of the car, like we did. Which means that kids in the Netherlands are less likely to have unwanted pregnancies because they’re more likely to know about birth control and how to use it, besides the fact that they learn all about birth control in school.
Despite all this, I still feel this protective mother-feeling toward my third-year students (about the same as 9th grade in the US), who will be part of this exchange. To me, they’re little innocents. Most of the boys are still shorter than I am and don’t even have peach fuzz on their chins yet. The girls are ahead developmentally, of course, but, being female myself, I want to protect them too.
Against what? Against Romanian sexual predators! I know, I know, I’m being ridiculous. But, you see, I opened a Yahoo Group for the students, with the idea that the kids from both schools taking part in the exchange would be able to meet each other and chat and post pictures and so on before they meet in person. The thing is: some of the pictures posted by the Romanian girls are positively frightening! No, I’m not going to post any here, since it’s a closed group and they’re not my photos, but I’ll describe the type for you:
Girl with dark, shoulder-length hair, wearing shiny lipstick and a come-hither smile. She’s looking up and to the side at the camera, which makes her eyes look huge and her lips (did I mention how shiny they are) look pouty. She’s sitting on the edge of a bed, leaning back on her straight arms, so that her shoulders are lifted up to her face. She’s wearing a low cut sweater, so, in this position, the tops of her breasts swell. Her legs are crossed and shapely in a very short mini-skirt and high heels.
This pose (and there are several girls who posted pictures in similar poses) is very sexually suggestive, isn’t it? Or is it just me, with my American upbringing, just reading something into a picture that isn’t there? Are these Romanian girls expecting sex while they’re here? Is that what’s on offer? Or are they just little girls playing at being models?
I’ll have to find some diplomatic way to find out …