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The Big Picture
Rebecca "Becky" Coates Nee, a veteran TV news anchor/reporter, is a professional life/career coach. Check out her website at to take the coachability test, subscribe to her free "Beyond the Box" newsletter and to find out if you're an adrenaline junkie.

The Freedom to Dream
By Rebecca Coates Nee

Forget freedom of speech, religion and the press. After two weeks in China, all I could think about was brushing my teeth with tap water again and eating salad without fear of contracting Hepatitis A.

It was the little things like clean water and toilet paper in public
bathrooms ñ that I missed most about America. But as I boarded the plane with my Chinese daughter in my arms, I did pause to think about the woman who abandoned her. Most likely, she gave her up because her country allows only one child and her culture prefers boys.

It's been said that women born in America are some of the luckiest women in the world. While gender inequities still exist, all it takes is a trip across the world to realize how true that statement is. And while we can debate the merits and failings of American TV news, those of us who've worked in the business seldom stop to think about what we do have, compared to other people in other countries.

Frankly, I never gave it much thought myself until I got an email a few days ago from a Romanian woman now living in Canada. Llyane Stan is an Internet programmer who dreams of becoming a broadcast news reporter. I asked her why. Her reply: "I loved to do this my whole life, it's like a magnet. I love The Word well chosen; I love to find out the truth behind the words and facts and bring it to the light, helping people to make informed decisions. I could never do it professionally in Romania. Journalism (there) used to be highly political and inaccessible. "

Despite the odds against her, Llyane pursued her childhood dream until she
found out that the only way to get trained in journalism was to get a
recommendation from the Local Bureau of the Communist Party. Not wanting to
politicize herself, she opted to learn computers instead.

Llyane says she left her homeland in 1993 to gain independence. "I wanted to
have my way in a place where there was only one way. I wanted to be myself in
a place where you had to enroll in a standard behavior, where, if you wanted
to start something new after 25, you were looked at as a very strange person,
to say the least, especially if you were a woman."

What do you take for granted every day?

We trust that when we go on our next interview, we won't be abducted and
murdered for political reasons. We know our government may not like what we
report, but we're not going to be thrown into prison and tortured for what we
say. And while getting a job in TV news is far from easy, at least we don't
need permission from a political party.

But what other "rights" are you taking for granted?

Like the right to say no to an assignment that goes against your personal
ethics, the right to wear your hair the way you choose and the right to have
bags under your eyes.
Sure, you may lose your job on air on but you will still have plenty of other
career options.

We also have the right to pursue our dreams, change our minds and go after
our passions ñ as long as they don't hurt anyone. Chasing our dreams may be
the real freedom so many of us don't use in this country, usually because it
requires some sacrifices to get there. But what would freedom be without a

Llyane Stan left Romania with $1500 and a son to support. She's now well on
her way to making her lifelong dream a reality. Are you?