Bus timetables in London? Don’t bother. The phrase ‘just like London buses’ is no mere figure of speech: those loveable red double-deckers just do come along in twos…or threes, or fours… A drop of humour, an ounce of patience and a pinch of apathy is the only antidote.
Bus timetables in Switzerland? One minute delay equates to scandal. The only downside is that impeccable punctuality may inadvertently induce intolerance in even the most well-trained Londoner.
Timetables and Roma? Has Christina finally lost it? Feel free to question my sanity and in the meantime I’ll get to the point. Dividing much of my time between Switzerland and the UK I have become aware not only of subtle cultural differences but also the semi-automatic process of adaption one undergoes as one travels. We’re no chameleons, but we do adjust to certain norms – bus timetable credibility as well as the more profound.
The general perception in Europe is that Roma refuse to conform to social standards; they may have adjusted their tolerance levels in accordance with the reliability of buses but they insist on pursuing lifestyles destructive to majority values. How to overcome social inequalities? Roma just need to adapt, conform, assimilate, evolve, integrate. Bingo, problem solved.
Oh if only upward social mobility was as fluid as bus punctuality tolerance levels. Using ‘difference’ to explain Roma impoverishment, social tension and conflicts, migration, and the failure of integration initiatives detracts from the fact that Roma are excluded from the very means that would eliminate their social marginalisation, such as education and employment.
Romodrom is a partner organisation of the Dzeno Association which directly addresses the hurdles that stand in the way of progress. At Romodrom, they brush aside futile chicken-or-the-egg-type-discussions on social deprivation to address its root causes. Their work includes counselling prisoners and their families, social work and programs for children which focus on improving Czech language skills. Having been given the opportunity to observe the work of Romodrom over the coming months, I hope in future blogs to elaborate on their efforts as well as the scale of the challenges ahead. So stay tuned.
Wait! What about bus timetables in Prague I hear you cry? I think it suffices to say one neither has to resort to the London cocktail of wit, patience and indifference nor fight the onset of intolerance like in Switzerland.
Posted By Christina Hooson
Posted Jul 17th, 2009