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
It was the little things like clean water and toilet paper
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
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
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
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?