Friday, May 18, 2012

Just Call Me Pro-Choice

My neighbor who goes to dance class with me grew up in Communist Albania.  Boy, has she got stories.

She told me that a wealthy man in her town was forced by the government to allow her family to live in his home.  He had more room than he needed; her family needed a place to stay; the government took it upon themselves to make a match.  Resentment, understandably, ensued.

She also told me that she always wanted to go to music school.  But only one child per family was allowed to go, and her older brother had already been admitted long before she was old enough to show any musical aptitude.  Her brother said it was a shame, because she was the more talented of the two.

And last night, she told me how she ended up in the career she did.  In Albania, if you earned high enough grades in high school, you were automatically admitted to college.  However, the names of all the kids in a town who were going to college were submitted to a town committee, and that town committee decided what subject each kid was going to study.  You were able to submit three preferences, but she said it was very rare for anyone to get one of their preferences (your chances were higher if you had good connections). 

She requested medicine, because her father wanted her to.  And she also requested another course of study which she couldn't come up with an English name for.  Basically, this person was in charge of distributing goods from the government stash to all the stores.  It was the most desirable job in the country, because this person had the first pick of everything in the stores before stock ran out.  This person never had to go without like everyone else did.

But she didn't get any of her choices.  She was assigned to study electronics, because her grades were pretty high and those with higher grades were always assigned to scientific fields.  By the time she graduated from college, the communist regime had fallen and she was much relieved -- she did not want to go back to her small hometown and take the electronics job that was waiting for her there. 

That was the reason people wanted to go to college: the government then guaranteed you a job.  But you had no choice in that job.  You did what they told you to do.  You sacrificed your freedom of self-determination for security.  And even then, you may not be able to get the necessities of life at the local store.

Did I mention how nervous Obamacare makes her?  She says it sounds all too familiar.  Makes me nervous, too.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That is so sad, but I agree rather scary to think our country is headed in that direction. With Renee graduating from high school this year, she has recently been trying to decide a field of study in which she wants to pursue a career. She has the aptitude for many things, but we continued to tell her that she needs to pursue what she really WANTS to do and that no one can make that decision for her. It's extremely sad to see that choice in life ever being taken away.