I wonder what will be the future of this country, that I will always think of as my foster country, as I think of Estonia. I read everything I can. I talked to a few of my students. I consider history. I really have no idea. I have optimistic hopes, and yet, my colleagues at my home institution were not even aware of these protests. What is on the front page of the papers at home is the Olympics and such.
It reminds me of the economic crisis of 97-98 in Estonia, when my bank was closed overnight, and I and other bank customers lost all our money. The local, the personal crisis is never the global one. I remember the lines outside the bank building, a brand new expensive piece of architecture, that was shuttered. The head of the bank was informed at midnight that his bank would be closed. The politics behind the closure were complicated, but as a foreigner and just ordinary person, I was left holding an empty account. ( Eventually, a portion of our money was returned but many months later.) It made me conscious of the protections we in the states have.
And now, I am more aware of the power we in the states have to argue, dispute, and create a democratic government. Ironically or not, I was here to teach American culture, and I spent a significant portion of time trying to teach the basic principles of American culture: the desire for equality, the respect of the individual, and the encouragement of charity and mercy. (To teach these, I had to teach the ways in which these values are questioned, and then revised. )The term equality was one that was the hardest to define. Getting the students to define why of equality was the biggest hurdle. For us, it means we possess the ability to engage our moral reason. As such, we understand right from wrong, and we express this right versus wrong via our shared values, which are, in truth, a wild mixture of Puritain beliefs that are co-mingled with native traditions, spiced with the knowledge gained from settling in a new geography. Our leaders are not leaders but representatives of our right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Does it always work? No. But our history can also be described as series of events to ensure these rights. We are an experiment. We are a young country and a dynamic culture, ever changing.
It is true that you never understand yourself, or your country until you leave. You learn that people do all want the same things but the expressions differ.
We bicker in America about things, but that bickering is essential. The opportunities ( freedoms) in the states and chances are what my students here say they wish they had.
I hope things here are revised for the better. I hope my students graduate and can find employment. (I have had here some amazingly sharp and astute students. ) It is a beautiful country, with such a dynamic culture. From the countryside of western Herzegovina that reminded me of Utah and Colorado to the mountains of the north, every part that I visited provided me with a new layer of understanding. And I will have my little Mostar cat to remind me.