Harvard and slavery

by Andrada Costoiu

Slavery is a problem that plagued our world since its first civilizations and continues to influence our societies today. Very much of the discussion on slavery focuses on the U.S., although it would not be right to just look at America. Slavery was initiated by the European merchants and slavery was practiced in Europe as well. It is just that Europe is a little more quiet about it….

A friend of mine has recently sent me some interesting information and I thought I should share it with you. If you’re not interested please pass this post and go to my poetry and to other things that I say:)

Harvard University has conducted research and has recently published the findings about its ties with slavery. Below is a video about the history of this university, its ties with slavery and the first phase of their project. I think it is wonderful that they take accountability. Everybody should take accountability about their past and about their actions and I am speaking here not only about nation states and big institutions but also about individuals. Take responsibility for your actions and behaviors at work, in life, in your relationships. Your willingness to be honest and vulnerable when you are wrong, would make you a better person and would help you grow.

Harvard pledges $100M to research, atone for role in slavery. Hurray :).

Let’s also not forget that slavery and racial injustice is a global issue. I recently started reading a book slavery, colonialism and race. The book is well written, it is interesting and I recommend it to you if if you’re interested in this issue. It’s written by a Georgetown scholar, Olúfẹ́mi O. Táíwò and it’s called Reconsiders Reparations.

Sending you all good vibes.
And if you’re not into this type of learning, go to my poetry:)))

Romania, things you do not see in the big news outlets

by Andrada Costoiu

The war in Ukraine has shattered the world, as it should have happened with the wars in Syria, with the ones in parts of Africa and in many other places of the world where populations have been or are still being displaced or killed for political reasons. We didn’t see this kind of international response in those other cases, but this is another conversation that the world should have, because as people we should all be treated the same, regardless of race, religion, gender and of the other kinds of social markers.

It is the war in Ukraine I would like to talk about today. In the past week I have been in touch with people from my birth country, some of which are in powerful political positions. Besides getting official information, I also get to see the inside of how Romania is responding to the crisis in Ukraine.

I’d like to bring up a story, from the town where I was born, Targu Jiu, which has about 80,000 inhabitants. Not a big place, not a lot of people, not extremely rich, still…. people are pulling together to help the best they can their displaced Ukrainian neighbors.

Dana Constantinescu, the Director of Inspectorate of Education of Gorj Country, has mobilized the schools within the county’s jurisdiction and organized centers where people can donate household items, food and everything they can spare to help the refugees of Ukraine. 

Photo: Dana Constantinescu, Director of Inspectorate of Education of Gorj country

This is what it looked like yesterday……..

Amazing, isn’t it? And this is just one county…

The Romanian government has launched a platform to coordinate the help for Ukraine  Impreuna Ajutam mai Mult. They did this in record time. This is a platform where volunteers and organizations can mobilize and coordinate help for refugees, and it is also a place where refugees can find official information about how to get medical services, find jobs and obtain asylum in Romania (this is for long term- because immediate help is provided at the borders).

Romania is also sending medication, hospital beds and medical equipment into Ukraine.

Photo: Romanian Government/Facebook

According to UN, as of March 9th here is how refugee are distributed across Eastern Europe:

  • Poland has taken in 1,412,502 refugees
  • Hungary 214,160
  • Slovakia 165,199
  • Russia 97,098
  • Romania 84,671
  • Moldova 82,762
  • Belarus 765

Other 255,000 people have gone to other European countries, the UN says.

For more information about Ukraine’s refugees check the UN website by clicking here: UN/Ukraine refugee situation.

All wars are destructive. ALL! I am not sure where and how this is going to end, but seeing people pulling together for the ones in need is a ray of sunshine in a gloomy world.

Ukraine War and the elephant in the room

by Andrada Costoiu

We live in unprecedented times, not because wars did not happen before but because the military power and the weapons’ sophistication is far beyond what nation states had at hand before. If you’re watching TV and reading the news you hear politicians, economists and journalists giving their opinions. Some of them are extremely offensive, some of them have smiles on their faces.  I do not enjoy any of it, and I find myself in political impossibility. 

I would like to see a reasonable end to the madness we are all part of. I have been trying to, but people who are knowledgeable of Russian politics do not say good things about how this is going to end.

Fiona Hill, an expert in Russia politics says in an interview that was published by Politico: “Every time you think, ’No, he wouldn’t, would he?’ Well, yes, he would. And he wants us to know that, of course. It’s not that we should be intimidated and scared…. We have to prepare for those contingencies and figure out what is it that we’re going to do to head them off.”

You can read her interview if you clock here: Fiona Hill Politico Interview

Thomas Friedman, an author that has penned well known books on world politics, says that he sees 3 scenarios about how this war ends. None of them are rosy, but the less likely of them it’s called …. “the salvation.” You can read that New York Times article here:

And, just yesterday, US gov is offering advice on how to survive a nuclear blast.  Here it is : Nuclear Explosion Ready.gov

Ok, so, first, people in Ukraine are dying. That’s right, children, old people, women and men are dying.
Second, if the government is kindly offering us advice of how to survive nuclear blast, they should also know that nobody survives above the ground in the area of the blast.  We also do not have the kind of houses that would offer protection against the penetration of gamma radiation, in case we are not in the blast area. And….in California there are no basements.
So, no, I am not smiling. None of us should. Perhaps the ones smiling on TV and in political and in other kinds of circles have a plan B. But us, regular people, do not.

Biden said yesterday “We’re ready.” 
I am asking, ready for what? 
What are the checks and balances in the situation that is unfolding right under our eyes?
Is there a logical, tactical plan that would end this or at least minimize the damages and the risks?

I am never pessimistic, but right now I need someone to help me out of the gloom. 

From the Lion King that my kids love so much, to Star Wars, the Edge of Tomorrow and you name it, everyone likes to think they’re a hero. Right now, I and us all are looking for that kind of hero, but in real life. We need somebody wise that would be able to de escalate the conflict. 
If he shows up, god bless him/her/they (or whatever the pronoun the hero would like!). We should call him: The man/woman who saved the world.

May we all see the light.

More about the crisis in Ukraine

By Andrada Costoiu

First, I would like to offer a little background on this, for people who are not familiar with this part of the world.
I think that what is happening right now was brewing for a while.

Putin was deeply bothered (for a long time!) but more so since the Revolution of Dignity.
Back in 2013, Ukraine’s pro-European trajectory was abruptly halted in November 2013 when Yanukovych, the president of Ukraine at that time, bowed to intense pressure from Moscow just days before the association was to be signed.

Protests took place over the next months, people were jailed, scores of others were killed until in February 2014 when Yanukovych and his regime were ousted. It was great, because the Ukrainian economy and politics were struggling with oligarch-controlled manufacturing industries and with the same kind of control in political life.

The same year, in the aftermath of this revolution, Russia attacked and annexed Crimea. In that conflict only, when Russia invaded and occupied Crimea, over 13,000 people died.
I am not sure what is going to happen now. Nothing is surprising anymore. I won’t be surprised if Putin wants to bring back the former president Viktor Yanukovych.
I won’t be surprised by any twists and turns in this ongoing war.

Second, I am worried about the escalation of the curent conflict.
If a missile goes wrong, in the wrong direction…let’s say towards Romania or another NATO member, the situation can get seriously out of control. Not that anything is in order now, because at Romania’s and Poland’s borders there are already thousands of refugees. And I can’t even think of what is on the ground in Ukraine.

And, there is one more thing…..the situation in the Black Sea is not very good. According to news outlets , Snake Island is now controlled by the Russian army.

The island itself is Ukrainian, but, for a long time, Romania refused to legally recognize it as an island so as not to lose sovereignty over the surrounding waters. The territorial limits of the continental shelf around Snake Island were finally delineated by the International Court of Justice in 2009, and Romania has 9,700 square kilometers of the continental shelf around the island.

To be continued…….

Ukraine attack

by Andrada Costoiu


Do you agree with this?
And now, it is time for a second question: WHO ARE THE HOUSEKEEPERS? 

I was born and raised in Romania. We were communist for so long, and it wasn’t the greatest time of our history. Then, the Romanian Revolution came in 1989 followed by waves after waves of corrupted politics. It’s been 30 years and although the new society and political structure was not built at all levels the way that it was expected (lots of Romanian industry landmarks and natural resources have been sold to foreign companies for pennies, by corrupt leaders, while their accounts were loaded with money), Romanians are free. Romania is a democracy, a beautiful country with beautiful people that live their life in peace. Everybody is doing the best they can, living and speaking their minds without the fear of being jailed or killed. I cannot imagine going back in time, to the old ways of life. I can’t.

Now, let’s go back to Ukraine.  How do these people feel and most importantly, who is there for them? Them, themselves only?  What should they do, while Russia is on one side and NATO on the other side? They are part of none, but they’re in the middle. 
How much time do you think they can hold in this position? 

Photo credit: Paul Michelman, MIT Sloan Review

Yes, unfortunately, the geopolitical situation of Ukraine sucks. It really does, and there is nothing drastic that can be done about it, unless the world is ready to risk war expansion and massive loss of life.

Unfortunately, the way our world is built it places value more on institutions than on what it actually happens on the ground. It is the same whether we consider the macro and micro scales. When planes throw bombs, they do not imagine families in those buildings, mothers crying next to her children, and old people huddled in bed praying for their lives. They throw bombs in the name of geopolitics, in the name of balance of power, and not in the name of humanity.

What is happening right now in our world is not only about Ukraine, about Russia, about NATO. It is about everything, including geopolitics, big corporations and interest games that are sucking our souls, the people.

There are, for example, approximately 40,000 oil fields globally and 6 million people that live or work nearby. If not done carefully, drilling pollutes local soil, water, and air, which in turn causes cancer, liver damage …and in general, the destruction of our planet.  In the game corporations vs cost of human lives, who wins? Us, people?

There are many such examples, but without loading this post with much information, I want to go back to the simple statement and the simple question I posed above. 


My poem “Undocumented” published by Spillwords Press

This is a poem inspired by my work with war refugees. You can read it at Spillwords Press by clicking on the following link:

Undocumented,by Andrada Costoiu, Spillwords Press

By Andrada Costoiu

The sun above is scorching the playground,
The child burns his fingers on the only swing,
From outside the walls the eyes are watching,
His every move, his everything.
The camp keeps other people that fled from war- thorn place,
The snipers are now far, but other jailors rule this space.

A sad national symbol that flies above the ground,
Had stamped undocumented the boy’s and other souls
And locked them up because they made it,
While buried free the souls that drowned.

Pushing his legs the child is swinging higher in the sun,
Oblivious to man-made rules that shouldn’t,
Build cages for the lives of people like him,
Or for the lives of anyone.

Perhaps one day the current faith in borders,
Will dissipate just like the air under his swing,
Leaving the truth, good morals, justice and good conscience,
To document belonging to a society where fair will be the king.


© Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2020- . Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2020 with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

My new poetry book “Love poems: insights into the complicated mystery of love” is available on Amazon. You can get it here. Please write a review if you get around it. I would really appreciate it.

Randomized how?

by Andrada Costoiu

California here.

This morning I was looking over the official ballot. I found it odd that Trump is at the top and Biden at the bottom! I didn’t know how they establish the order in the ballot. I did’t think it’s alphabetical because I checked and the others are also not alphabetically sorted. So, how do they determine the order?

They say that California has a randomized alphabet procedure, I went to the state’s website and you can find more about it here : California Randomized Aplhabet procedure . This procedure was established by legislation passed in 1975 in response to court rulings declaring that standard alphabetical order or incumbent-first was unconstitutional…..

I questioned the “random!” , because of the order in my ballot. But then a friend sent me hers…….

So, not everybody gets the same thing…. BUT!! She lives in a different county. Other people in the same county with me got the same order as mine……

So now, I would be curious to know if the ballot’s order is randomized per county or individually?

Elections are stranger than fiction….:)))))

Hello : from one mailbox to another

by Andrada Costoiu

I love nature. I do not hug trees. However, this morning when I went to my mailbox, which I have not checked in the past 3 days, I got a sudden urge to go hug a tree ….Why are there almost 30 pieces of election materials in my mailbox? Really , do we need to be invaded with these? And, if we do, do they really need to be HUGE?!!!

This one that I measured from Trump & Dixon is just an example. They are all about the same size, regardless the party orientation, or the Propositions they advertise for.

I live in California. Is it just here? Is it just my area? Does your mailbox looks the same?

I’m so tired of this …..

One story

by Andrada Costoiu

American Progress, painting by John Gast, 2017. Image from Wikipedia.org, WikiCommons

In reaction of judge Ruth Ginsburg death, I wrote a poem, which I am sharing with you below. I am worried for what happens in our politics. I want peace, progress and a better future. This is what we are known for, we are a country of open minded, kind people that care about each other. People that came here to escape religious persecution (that doesn’t mean that you cannot be any religion you choose!), founders of this land who came here with their dreams, California’s gold diggers who came here to change their lives, immigrants who came on ships to follow their American Dream, ALL came here for a better life, for equal opportunities. This is who we are, this is what makes us different from other parts of the world, where you cannot speak your mind or where you have cast systems that will prevent you from achieving your potential, because you’re not born into it.

America means progress. America means equality. America means fairness and equal opportunity. America means freedom. America means gender equality. American means us, all of us.

And here is the story I wrote, it’s the story of our founding mothers and fathers. And that, unless your are a native American, lives in all of us.

One story

by Andrada Costoiu

She, born in the land of sewed mouths,
And tall fences,
Made it to the shore.
She touched her wings,
Bruised in her erratic flight 
To escape to freedom.

Guardians of the new land came and took her,
Some had assuming eyes and asked about her journey.
She looked up at the eagle flying in the sky,
And smiled.

She didn’t have a map to show her journey of yesterday,
But just like the eagle flight, high and free,
Her dreams and hopes were fearlessly flowing through her veins,
Holding promises of a shinier, better tomorrow.

She took the cotton rag strapped across her chest,
And kissed the picture of another 
Compressed in charcoal.
She folded its burned edges,
Still smelling like her mom’s cooking,
And stud up,
Until the guards let her follow the music,
Of the valleys and mountains of this newfound land.

The memory of her first step joined others,
Next to big and small footprints.
The dirt road looked like an eternal mosaic jigsaw puzzle,
With different colors.
She smiled as her mark added more meaning,
To its one big, and still in progress story.


© Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2020- . Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Andrada Costoiu and a-passion4life.com, 2019 with appropriate and specific direction to the original content

My new poetry book “Love poems: insights into the complicated mystery of love” is available on Amazon. You can get it here. Please write a review if you get around it. I would really appreciate it.