How do you see democracy today, in the era of digitalization when decision-making is no more a process exclusively peculiar to policy-makers?

I see a possibility. Take a look at the word ”democracy” and the concepts within the word: ”demos” – means people , ”cracy” – comes from the Greek word meaning power. So People’s  Power.  So, democracy is something that us, people, need to take. It is seldom given to us. Democracy is a dynamic concept and is something we, as individuals, and communities need to fight for in many  situations that  we are in.

In Sweden, my parents and my grandparents generation did a lot of work for my generation, which led to the fact that my generation doesn’t show much of a civil society in Sweden, up until recently. Everything was made already for us. Now the world is changing and we need to change with it.

The digitalisation, or the Internet of Everything, brings a  huge potential and possibility for us human beings with regards to democracy. We can connect, express ourselves and gather together with people who think alike. The core thing is: we need to get together. After speaking on Facebook or LinkedIn, we need to step out and get together and bring change home.

I am a stubborn optimist so I believe that great change can happen. It happens every day in front of our eyes. We all know somebody who stands up for him/herself, who leads with an example, who inspires others , who shows alternatives to the mainstream. I wonder what mass media would look like if they also covered the positive news.

Speaking of all that starts with ‘mass’. Mass media, mass production, mass distribution. I think those colosses will disappear in the future. Each individual who has an internet connection and a device : smartphone, computer, iPad etc has the possibility to be a media channel. I think here is where we need to understand the power of social media and what it actually can do to us. We want  to have the freedom to express ourselves and be ourselves.  That is a democracy.

We need to think less about party politics and more like: solving problems together, as the world is coming together. People are fed up with politicians who deceives us, campaigns and empty promises. We want real and authentic. We need to think anew, break new boundaries. Make a mind experiment  that problems in society were solved by crowd sourcing, that companies and civil society would help. Best solutions win! That we would solve things together. Too much time is used now, inefficiently to internal dramas between party leaders. We, people, are smart and its time to say no and create societies that are sustainable. Not feed drama and conflict.  People solving problems for the benefit of human kind , that is a democracy.

We have the technology and I think we are in an embryo phase of realising how powerful social media platforms can be.

We need to unite as people and have the courage to change things.

Foto: Yvette Larsson
Foto: Yvette Larsson

Nowadays Romania faces an overwhelming phenomenon called generations gap especially regarding the use of technology. How do you think these societal contrasts can be reduced if not eradicated?

I think not only Romania, but in many places in the world where there is a change in technology. If we asked a history professor I am pretty sure they would say that there are always believers contra conformists when new technology is invented. I think having access to The Internet is a freedom that as many people as possible should have. You can learn , be informed, stay in contact, with people around the globe, in one click. The world is coming together if we want and dare!

I am not afraid of generation gaps. I think that we should stay curious about each other instead. What can the older generation teach  the younger ? What can the younger generation teach the older? It’s healthy to stay curious about each other instead.

Sweden has always been considered a climax of the educational system. Are there any core values that made this thing possible?

Hm. Sweden is not scoring well at the moment on International testings, to be bluntly honest. I am not sure, but you are maybe thinking of Finland? They are doing really well now.

Finland believes that the key to learning is: happy kids. I think they are right! If a child feels safe, secure , loved and feels happy in school…anything is possible! In Finland, students  have shorter days, no homework, many assistants in the classrooms so everyone should manage during school hours. Not only do they think of the academics but the social and emotional part of what it means to be a human being.  An educational system is part of a world view and outlook on human beings. The curriculum designers in each country are part of their  history and the  way  their community look  at people. In Scandinavia, one core value has long been trusting. It’s a fundament as I see it. It is opposite of how I often feel in Romania. The lack of trust just poisons a lot of situations and a lot of moments to develop a person or society in Romania.

Another thing that is happening in Scandinavia is the encouraging of  the children. We are seldom into judging and blaming dramas.

The Bucharest Lounge is certainly a one-of-a-kind project, so how important is leadership in your advertising strategy in order to break the mould and change the way Romania is perceived?

If we speak self-leadership, I thought like this when I was starting The Bucharest Lounge : Who am I? What talents do I have and how can I use them in a constructive way, in order to spread the positive and inspirational stories from Romania – and to break the often negative picture about Romania and the Romanians ? The answer was: I am an optimistic from birth , I can inspire people to go the extra mile, I love to communicate with people from all around the world,  I am visionary and good at hatching ideas and new perspectives, I am a writer and love photography and the world we live in love pictures. So, the core question then was how I can create value for others with my talents and skills. With BL I would like to ignite a huge portion of GUTS in people, courage to change, kick in the but that you can change things, that usually it only takes the fist step.  Everyone needs to do it from their talents and skills.

Some people think I am too positive. It’s ok. We are all different! I have now a community of 17 000 people who all, in one way or the other, which to create something better in Romania, something constructive. We can not sit and only complain. We must take action and do. Otherwise, we will sit in the rocking chair and status quo is the only thing that there is.

Foto: Yvette Larsson
Foto: Yvette Larsson

As a teacher, do you think that the seats of learning must take a step forward in implementing programmes able to ensure a better integration for youth on the work market?

Absolutely. I can see it happening. The school I am working on is one. I work within the IB programme and it is very progressive in this field. The Swedish school that is in my neighbourhood the same. They started 3 years ago and people said they were only bohemians. Now, lots of students are applying. What do they do? They don’t have classes as in 7 A, B, C. Instead, they have, lets say, 100 students and 8 teachers. Each teacher has mentees that they closely support. They work very entrepreneurial, student -based, individual learnings, sewing and woodwork, sports takes a big place, computer science. All kids have a laptop.

If we look at education I think the change will come first at universities and then simmer to children and youth education. Youth now is already getting accustomed to learning online. Universities will offer more and more courses online. Further education will be important  as the world change so rapidly. Where you have the Internet, you can learn.

E-learning will boost I think. I think there will come a reaction amongst parents on the quality of learning at school. For example , in Sweden now we have a huge lack of teachers. I think we will see more and more experts teaching on the net. For example, when I have a continuous education at work, why not watch a talk, online, by an extraordinary good  educational professor ? We can thrive in the new knowledge era if we want!!!

Having an ingrained passion for multiculturalism, have you ever thought of the idea of teaching in Romania in order to get in touch with young generations?

Yes, ever since 2011 I tried to get a job at all international schools in Bucharest and elsewhere , but so far , nobody hired me.

I have a wish and drive  to  create value and meaning and help youth to grow and be courageous to change Romania. The corruption must be fought and leaders who steel from its people should be put in jail. I was interviewing the former Finnish Ambassador to Romania, last year, Ulla Väistö. She explained to me how Finland was a country in despair in 1945, after the World War 2, but build itself up because of  one huge reason.

They had leaders who wanted the best for its people.

I hope that young people in Romania are ready to take the battle against corruption and build a new Romania.

Having already discovered your passion for leadership and education, what is the greatest challenge you have ever faced in your inspirational journey?

I think that living in Sweden is a big challenge for me, right now, as  I am so longing to live in Romania and contribute there. I am trying to make it happen, though ! Working all forces at home, talking to a lot of people, networking, so I am very hopeful. I already see the house I will live in when I one day can settle in Romania, and it gives me some peace at the moment 🙂

Foto: Yvette Larsson
Foto: Yvette Larsson

What is your opinion on traditional craft and values? Is Romania supposed to do more in this domain in order to establish rural tourism as its main concept for foreigners?

 I think that life starts in the village and that from the village comes many authentic Romanian values as I see it. In the village, there is the richness of folklore and handicraft. Things that people needed in order to survive. Taking care of animals and get food from them and what the land gives. Clothes and tools. There is something about the Romanian soul that lives in the village. There are the shepherd and his connection to the earth, the farmer and the connection to the soil and the food, the cyclic harmony of living according to the  season. Maybe it sounds like a romantic nostalgic look on life, but for me, this is the part where I learn from the elder. I learn not to waste. I learn to take care of the earth and the soil. I learn to get my rest when night comes and so forth.

To invite people to experience Romanian rural life has huge potential. People wish to have authentic experiences and  you will have that in countryside Romania. I am also thinking that the word tourist feels a bit old style. Why not just say, guests or travellers? A tourist is somebody looking in and has a bit of a negative connotation to me. A traveller  or guest may which to participate in the life on the farm and friendships will be created.

Which is your vision about lifelong learning, especially about how the state must encourage its citizens to keep on developing even after graduating?

Lifelong learning: do the things that make you happy as much as possible, do the things that make your heart do a summer sault, stay wildly curious, stay wildly open to learning from people and situations that are not the ones you are used to. Be ready to feel fear and be ready to face the fear and be courageous!!!

I think drive and development need to come from within, not from the state.

However, the state can make it easier, by, for example, making entrepreneurship easy, reduce bureaucracy and make is easy and fewer hurdles to set up own businesses. This area has a lot to be asked for in Sweden. But it starts to move now.

Taking into account your adherence to both Swedish and Romanian culture, how would you describe your cultural identity?

I was  born and raised in the north of Sweden so my roots are deep in nature and in my ancestors of the Sami people. This has made me needing  space. I crave freedom and I go mad if somebody or something stops my freedom. Over the years, I learned to deal with it, but the concept of freedom is very important to me. I need openness in the way people think and act and how I reason and communicate with people. I go crazy when people show narrow-mindedness, ego and jealousy. The sun is big enough to shine on all of us who want to do a good thing !!! I am a wildly open person because of my upbringing there, in Laponia where space is  infinite !

My meeting with Romania is a love story, full of passion, drive , purpose and it is often painful as the Romanians pain is my pain too. I have been lobbying for Romania since 1988. Often people don’t realise this when they criticising me for being up in the clouds. Well.

In Romania, I feel myself 100 % . I feel that I don’t need to be anyplace else and it feels just right. Romania mirrors me in my struggles and celebrations, and it connects with me, on a deep level, on what it is to be a human being.




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