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Studenți TeenZ - The roots of justice in us

1. Cata

For me, justice appeared here, in Curtea de Arges, in Posada, in the park behind Merisorului, in the form of games. I believe that the justice I discovered then has not changed, it has only adapted to the time, the place and the situation. I was the boy who hid next to the boy who counted in hide-and-seek to make sure that the other had counted correctly, even though I was usually the first one he saw. I was the student in school number 6 who wouldn't get his hair cut or take off his Metallica shirt, even when the principal threatened to expel him. Then I ended up at Vlaicu High School, where I was confronted with inappropriate jokes from teachers about drugs and completely out of line approaches for young people just growing into their bodies. In 2019, I went to Bucharest, on the „People of Justice” stage , to be heard and understood. It was the best treatment for the frustrations of that time. After 18 years of being just Posada, number 6 at Vlaicu, I'm now a student, in my third year at the Bucharest Politehnica and I think about the things I considered problems back then. I want them back. Now I'm a garbage man if I dare to disagree with a teacher. Now I have to use my own money to pay for the projects I need to do for my studies and what I get in return is the eternal "not good enough". Ironic that these projects decide whether I keep my scholarship next semester or whether I have to use my parents' money.

In the eyes of some professors in my faculty, who forget that we also exist outside the two-hour lecture, the end justifies the means. Sometimes it's hard for me. It would be easier to give up, but I keep going because in seventh grade I would have rather moved to another city than get a haircut, and now I know that the teachers from back then are just memories and I will be reconciled because I stayed true to myself and my values. At 21, I know that life is just beginning and that the real confrontations are yet to come, but I also know that no one will jump up next to me because I and my righteousness have not changed, only grown.

2. Colin

By the age of 14, I learned justice from my family, from my father on the clay courts at the tennis club. The matches were seemingly harmless, but turned into fierce competitions. At Vlaicu, I learned about justice from some teachers who encouraged me to cultivate myself and be dedicated. As a volunteer, alongside my teachers, alongside my friends at the GHEPart hub, justice for us takes form of workshops where we learned to be nonconforming and express our opinions freely. At the Stadium, we practiced karate, outdoors, because the pandemic took away our training room. These roots of the straight path, planted in Curtea de Argeș, have led to Politehnica, a university renowned for the potential incomes after graduation, with the idea of fulfilling my dream: to open a karate club. Two weeks into my studies I was in for a shock. Transmission electron microscopes weren't teaching me things I was passionate about. I called my mother crying. I asked her, instead of asking myself, "What am I doing here?" I was caught in a whirlwind of fears and contradictions. I felt I was letting everyone down, especially my sister, six years younger than me. I rejected the love and care of and I struggled a lot with guilt and shame when I when I dropped out of that faculty. 

I made this decision because it was hostile to me. I felt like I was going against my convictions, against the straight path I had taken here. As chance would have it, this decision coincided with my black belt exam. It was the victory that gave me hope. Then I found the courage to change course, and now I'm a student in the HR department. I love what I do and I think it suits me. The roots of the straight path that began in Curtea de Argeș remain the foundation of my identity. The dramatic episode in Politehnica made me realize that, for me, justice is a dynamic process that goes beyond simple adherence to principles. We often tend to neglect the human component of justice. Apparent "wrong decisions" are part of the process of discovering self-righteousness. Only when we succeed in understanding and integrating these decisions will the justice within us resemble external justice.

3. Denisa

When I was 5 years old, justice for me meant that I had to give up my newly conquered place since I was told "who's coming from war, takes back his place". I understood the idea of fairness no further than "I'm right and you're wrong". It was a generational mantra that I used as the last ace up my sleeve. Because I was told it over and over and I ended up repeating it without thinking beyond the phonetics of "I'm right". When I was 12 years old, right was the thing that there was a war going on in Afghanistan, and my dad was going there to end it by joining NATO troops. At the time it seemed more like a validation mechanism to me. I was born in Constanta, and I learned that I would never fully belong to a place. No teacher had my mother and father as students, my mother didn't grow up with a doctor in the school office and my father wasn't a classmate of the best engineer in town. So I had to earn the trust that some other people were automatically given. Just like I had to earn my right to participate in the Math Olympiad, even though I solved the problems with the same ease as my classmate Ana. The difference between the two of us was that her family was from here.

At 16, fairness was the one thing that couldn't be found at school, and that fed my sense of anxiety. When I did workshops with other young people at GHEPart, it was part of the process, not just the last bit on the paper. It was the topic I wanted to touch on tangentially when I first stood on stage, and yet I couldn't connect it to what home meant. My justice wasn't walking down the boulevard from Manole's to stop at Vlaicu's like I did. In my eyes, at 21 years old, justice was no longer just a feeling, a phrase or an object stuck somewhere in time and space. Justice is a part of me and my roots as a child and adult from Curtea de Argeș. It is part of the story I share with the people on stage and, above all, with every soul who listens to me. It is the label I carry as a legacy, but this time it is part of my conscious decision to be just. Justice is not about “me versus you”, but about every moment I choose to be “together”. So can I ask you, how much justice is inside you when you break away from your roots, and how much is outside?

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