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Don't judge a book by its cover: Part 1

Easier said than done in many ways, when we take a book from a shelf, more often than not it's the cover which made us take that action (unless you were looking for an author in particular). It's also an expression which is very true, a book can have a terrible cover, but still contain amazing words.

Have you ever used this expression in relation to people? I try to be non-judgemental and not let someone's appearance, background, sexuality etc. influence my attitude towards them. We all know it's far better to get to know people before making up our minds about them, but if I'm honest, I think everyone has a certain amount of in-built bias about certain things.

I've been looking over a Powerpoint presentation I made whilst part of a business accelerator. One afternoon we were challenged to do our own "Ted talk", on a subject we felt strongly about. My subject was Romania, and I amazed my introverted self by actually volunteering to do this non-compulsory task. The reason? I have seen first hand the prejudices my husband and Romanian friends and family have faced, simply by saying their country of birth. I have been angry and hurt on their behalf, and wanted to try to do something about it. This has also been the motivation behind my novel which will be released soon.

To summarise my talk, let me share a few of the slides:

I hadn't explained what my talk would be about, and suspected my audience would not know a huge amount about Romania. It turned out I was correct. Discussing this slide they were in agreement that wherever it was looked lovely, somewhere they'd like to visit or holiday.

Following on from this, I then revealed some images I believed may help them figure out which country it was:

Orphans, the Ceaucescus, Dracula and "gypsies". Unsurprizingly, the majority now knew which mystery country I was showing them. To most people, none of the images in this slide conjure up particularly positive connotations, but they are the ones most likely to be associated with the Eastern European country.

Romania joined the EU in 2007, and the UK press had a field day with their shock headlines, warning Brits of the loss of jobs and the burden on the economy as they would claim benefits. The situation was hugely exaggerated and presented very negatively. In part 2 of this blog, I will share some of the headlines, the clever way Romania responded, and how headlines have changed more recently.

Until I met my husband, I knew very little about Romania, and if I believed only what was in the press, I would have a truly skewed view of a country which also has many positives, and a rich history and culture. This can probably be said about many places in the world, but for personal reasons, it's important to me that I try to show a more balanced portrayal of Romania.

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