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Fall of Berlin Wall Opened LWC to Students from Eastern Europe

Posted on Sunday, November 08, 2009 [7:01 PM]
LWC's Students of 1989 (from left): Stefan Juzbasic of Belgrade, Serbia; Viktoria Krell of Ludwigsburg, Germany; Zuzana Rakyta-Komendakova of Bratislava, Slovakia; Anca Verona of Braila, Romania; Agnieszka Wojtowicz of Torun, Poland; Trina Slapeka of Jurmala, Latvia; and Andrija Tintor of Belgrade Serbia.
COLUMBIA, Ky. -- If you want to understand one of the consequences of the fall of the Berlin Wall, take a look at Lindsey Wilson College's undergraduate student body.
This school year, LWC has almost a dozen students from European nations that were entirely different 20 years ago. Some of the nations -- such as Latvia, Serbia and Slovakia -- didn't exist in 1989. The other countries were closed to the West because they were trapped within the orbit of the former Soviet Union.
The event that changed those countries happened on Nov. 9, 1989, when the Berlin Wall -- the ultimate symbol of tyranny and oppression of the Cold War -- fell in response to a decision by East German officials to allow its citizens to visit West Germany and West Berlin.
The decision by East German officials proved to be the death knell of the Soviet Union and its Eastern European satellites. A little more than two years later, the Soviet Union was officially declared dead.
Although they were too young to have participated in what became known as the Revolution of 1989, seven LWC students recently reflected on how that Nov. 9 event changed their lives.
Anca Verona of Braila, Romania, remembers the sights and sounds of autumn and winter of 1989.
"I remember going to church with my grandma, and on the way there in downtown there were a lot of gunshots and people standing on the top of buildings," she said.
Romania underwent a dramatic revolution that year autumn and winter, culminating in the Christmas Day execution of dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu and his wife, Elena.
Still, until Ceauşescu's regime fell, a lot of Romanians were unaware of what was happening in their region of the world.
"Nobody knew what was going on in the world because (the government) didn't allow you to know what was going on," Verona said.
Agnieszka Wojtowicz of Torun, Poland, recalled how difficult everyday life was for many of her country's citizens before 1989.
"Of course it was hard for everybody, but especially for scientists and teachers," she said. "They could not leave the country very easily if they wanted to go study somewhere else because they were not trusted by the government."
Andrija Tintor said it was equally oppressive in Yugoslavia. His nation experienced several bloody conflicts in the 1990s before disintegrating into seven nations.
"If you said or did something the government did not agree with, you would get a black mark on your door, which would really hurt you and your family," said Tintor, who is from Belgrade, Serbia.
Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, life is still far from ideal in the former Eastern Bloc nations. A region where communist- and socialist-led governments once guaranteed full employment must now contend with the cycles of free-market economies, open borders and expanded political freedoms.
"My dad used to joke around that they had money to buy stuff (before 1989), but there was nothing to buy," said Trina Slapeka of Jurmala, Lativa, a nation that regained its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. "But now there is so much to buy but no money to buy it with."
Still, despite the challenges introduced into their countries over the last 20 years, Krell said her parents, who grew up in the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War, remind her to be thankful and make the most of the new freedoms - such as the freedom to study at U.S. colleges.
"Our parents always tell us how good we have it now. Back in the days it was so difficult," she said. "They tell us to appreciate what we Students of 1989 001 November 3, 2009

Students of 1989 001 November 3, 2009
LWC's Students of 1989 (from left): Stefan Juzbasic of Belgrade, Serbia; Viktoria Krell of Ludwigsburg, Germany; Zuzana Rakyta-Komendakova of Bratislava, Slovakia; Anca Verona of Braila, Romania; Agnieszka Wojtowicz of Torun, Poland; Trina Slapeka of Jurmala, Latvia; and Andrija Tintor of Belgrade Serbia.

COLUMBIA, Ky. -- If you want to understand one of the consequences of the fall of the Berlin Wall, take a look at Lindsey Wilson College's undergraduate student body.

This school year, LWC has almost a dozen students from European nations that were entirely different 20 years ago. Some of the nations -- such as Latvia, Serbia and Slovakia -- didn't exist in 1989. The other countries were closed to the West because they were trapped within the orbit of the former Soviet Union.

The event that changed those countries happened on Nov. 9, 1989, when the Berlin Wall -- the ultimate symbol of tyranny and oppression of the Cold War -- fell in response to a decision by East German officials to allow its citizens to visit West Germany and West Berlin.

The decision by East German officials proved to be the death knell of the Soviet Union and its Eastern European satellites. A little more than two years later, the Soviet Union was officially declared dead.

Although they were too young to have participated in what became known as the Revolution of 1989, seven LWC students recently reflected on how that Nov. 9 event changed their lives.

Anca Verona of Braila, Romania, remembers the sights and sounds of autumn and winter of 1989.

"I remember going to church with my grandma, and on the way there in downtown there were a lot of gunshots and people standing on the top of buildings," she said.

Romania underwent a dramatic revolution that year autumn and winter, culminating in the Christmas Day execution of dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu and his wife, Elena.

Still, until Ceauşescu's regime fell, a lot of Romanians were unaware of what was happening in their region of the world.

"Nobody knew what was going on in the world because (the government) didn't allow you to know what was going on," Verona said.

Agnieszka Wojtowicz of Torun, Poland, recalled how difficult everyday life was for many of her country's citizens before 1989.

"Of course it was hard for everybody, but especially for scientists and teachers," she said. "They could not leave the country very easily if they wanted to go study somewhere else because they were not trusted by the government."

Andrija Tintor said it was equally oppressive in Yugoslavia. His nation experienced several bloody conflicts in the 1990s before disintegrating into seven nations.

"If you said or did something the government did not agree with, you would get a black mark on your door, which would really hurt you and your family," said Tintor, who is from Belgrade, Serbia.

Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, life is still far from ideal in the former Eastern Bloc nations. A region where communist- and socialist-led governments once guaranteed full employment must now contend with the cycles of free-market economies, open borders and expanded political freedoms.

"My dad used to joke around that they had money to buy stuff (before 1989), but there was nothing to buy," said Trina Slapeka of Jurmala, Lativa, a nation that regained its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. "But now there is so much to buy but no money to buy it with."

Still, despite the challenges introduced into their countries over the last 20 years, Krell said her parents, who grew up in the Soviet Union during the height of the Cold War, remind her to be thankful and make the most of the new freedoms - such as the freedom to study at U.S. colleges.

"Our parents always tell us how good we have it now. Back in the days it was so difficult," she said. "They tell us to appreciate what we have."

 

 

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