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Thursday, May 19, 2016

Escape From Transylvania To PROFMEX and The West; (147) DrOlga M. Lazin

(147) DrOlga M. Lazin:





PROFMEX Opening To Europe & Russia
With Dr  James Wilkie



I grew up in the beautiful and bucolic Maramures region, Romania,
where I have my first memories. The region was much nicer, ethnically more
diverse, better climate, and more geographic diversity, with the Mountains of
Gutinul and the rivers of Iza and Tisa, as Tisa was the natural border with the
Ukraine before the cold war settled in in 1947.  

As folklore has it  in
the West, vampires comes from Transylvania. We had vampires, and wolverines, but
all these mythological characters were actually members of the communist party,
which everyone had to join.
Except for me. I had always been a maverick.

In college I excelled in History and English, as well as French
Languages.
I was admitted to the University in Cluj, in the heart of
Transylvania, namely the American Language and Literature –Romanian Language
And Literature Department of Philology. The Boljay University Is considered the
Best University in Transylvania. Once I started mentoring other students, I was
happy and had the sense of freedom, reading and writing comprehension being my
forté for the following years at the University in the heart of Transylvania. I
always dreamt of being a professor, and a writer. In the 5th
grade  I had to make a crucial decision
regarding the foreign language I chose to learn, and yes it was American,not
Russian!

The college professors, started reading the mounds of new
Decrees every day, which made me laugh, and staff of the university was
suspicious of me not believing their “expose” in the classrooms. Professors
were trying to befuddle us with words from a wooden language, totally bent
toward twisting our brains into confused submission. Professors, securitate
officers were acting as sweaty bureaucrats, and Eagle minds trying to tell us
what to think. Not one professor  ever asked
us, “What do you really think, all of you?”
Each professor had their favorite students and made sure they
pointed this out in class, stifling any competition, and were showing openly
their favoritism or nepotism.

When I reached 22 years, I started being argumentative, and
started criticizing professors, esp. the history professor. I was getting so
sick at academics yelling at us, and being forced to do the military service as
a woman in the academia. After all, Americans were coming to take away our
socialist country. We were doomed as a nation, I was taught in History classes,
by being taken over by foreign powers, especially the Americans. Because the
Russians already did. Sic! The Russians have been directing Romanian
politicians since 1947!
As awful as it sounds I learned the hard way and bought my
books from the black market.
Students like myself back in 1982 couldn’t buy books in English, and I was
an English major.
We couldn’t talk to foreigners, and the atmosphere was dreadful in classes.
Restrictions were plentiful and absurd. Speech was not free; one couldn’t argue
in class, or make any real analysis or debate. You had to regurgitate what they
were telling you, and read whatever was there in the old books stacked in the
communist library.
 I was an English major, but could
not get the books in English necessary for the Exams. They did not exist.
Talking to foreigners in English or answering one question was a crime,
according to a stupid decree. Abortion was a crime for 20 years. Doctors
performing it ended up in jail, and so did the pregnant women. Punishments were
ridiculous, e.g. 5 years jail for an abortion for 40 years.
Furthermore if my uncle from Canada visited us, we were all under
surveillance, the entire family. Even today, in 2014 one has to go and declare
if you have family visiting from the USA or CANADA for some bizarre security
reasons. Well after 22 years, not much has changed in poor Romania.
Nobody underwent this.

I was a professor of Romanian
and English in Sighetu Marmatiei, Maramures County, at School #2. It was very
exacting commuting all the time from Tisa where I lived in our private Museum
(Pipas Museum of Art) to Sighet. So, finally I decided to leave in 1986, and
traveled to the border, as well as paid a smuggler to take me to Yugoslavia. We
were caught on the border and sent back in 1984.
The jail was so cold in Timisoara to keep the
bacterias and viruses that it made everybody sick internally with the cold and the
flue. Most of civil society was imprisoned, for trying to open the system, and
denounce the Ceausescu dictatorship. The blanket was as warm as a Kleenex
tissue. Moreover there were no pillow, and the concrete slab where inmates
slept was a back-breaker. The lights were on 24 hours a day, blinding all of
us, and there was constant observation. Every hour one was awakened to be
counted at 5am. All under the guise of watching out for suicides. But everyone
could be clearly seen by the guards, and there was no need to sleep-deprive
inmates, as they were doing. There was also someone in the higher echelon
ripping off the food bill. They served only baby carrots, and spicy beans.


My poor mother was so confused by the propaganda, that she
started crying when I was freed from jail, feeling very emotional after the
death of the nation’s father, Ceausescu.

Fed up with
all the restrictions, and full of frustrations, I hit the border with
Yugoslavia.
I have been
unfairly jailed as I tried to leave the country in 1986. I was ready to give up
my freedom, just to escape an impossible country, with impossible leadership.
In 1989,
Ceausescu finally pardoned everybody who tried to escape the horrendous
conditions in the country.
The first
act of freedom I have performed it was to secure a passport for myself. And got
married to Valerian Pipas, a famous violinist from Virismort, Tisa in Maramures
county. Otherwise the consulate would not have given me the visas. Conditions
were one had to be married, and own a house. Truly I enjoyed being married to a
musician; he played the violin and I danced tango and csardas in weekends.
I have been
teaching English in Sighet, Tisa, and Giulesti, as well as Camara for another
10 years. Conditions were absolutely horrific; no heating in schools, no teaching
material, and constant harassment from colleagues of being informed on. And
constant surveillance.
Over 1000
young students were killed in the University square by the Securitate
(security) agents when Ceausescu was shot. By gunshots. A bloody revolution
started that winter.

An all out civil war started in December
15th, in 1989. Dictator Nicolae Ceausescu was shot, together with
his wife Elena, execution style.
Luckily I could start now get a passport
and visas I was dreaming about for escaping to the West. Even when Ceausescu was
dead, change was happening excruciatigly slow, in all domains of life.

After I met
Jim, in the city of Sighet, I decided to finally leave Romania, well after an
execution squad shot the Ceausescus in December 26, 1989 for Christmas.  Such a nice gift to the Romanian people.
When the
regime changed in 1990, I was free to get a passport, and started Organizing
Conferences and Seminars at the University of Babes-Boljay, in the heart of
Transylvania. Together with James Wilkie, we have opened a PROFMEX office in
Moscow, headed by Boris Koval.
I was mostly
writing on destatification and privatization of   Romanian companies. 51% of MARA, the
textiles company I researched was finally sold to the Germans. The opening up of Romania to the world has
finally begun. And so did my eyes open with having met James W Wilkie on a
beautiful day of September 16th, in 1990.
It was on a
rainy September 16tth day, in Sighet. Being the only English speaker
in town, I was called  to translate for a
small group of academics by the mayor. Shortly after I have met James Wilkie,
and James Platler, the two American professors from UCLA, I realized I could
leave and that I was meant to see the world.
The two professors were doing a study on the effects
of the Cold War in post-socialist countries.
I stated my
observations and my truths to James Wilkie, as I saw a kindred spirit in him
the moment I have first talked to him. Many of my thoughts were very valuable
to Dr Wilkie, who then asked me to guide the academic group through Eastern
Europe.
The
academics were traveling in a German Opel (a U.S. made car). I took them to the
Museum of my friend, Ms. Mihaly de Apsa, in my hometown, Sighet. We then went
to the Merry Cemetery, the unique “happy cemetery” in the world.
I will start
by explaining the places I went in 1991, mainly one of the most beautiful part
of Romania, through Pasul Prislop.  We then
continued and went together around Romania, visited the monasteries of Moldova,
C-lung Moldovenesc, Suceava, Sucevita and Agapia monasteries. Then we went to
Lacul Rosu. We took the scenic road to Cluj Napoca, where I was trying to get
the plane in order to fly out to Paris, in France. I had all the visas. But
there was no flight. Nobody took credit cards at that point in Romania. James
Wilkie taught me what CREDIT was.

I fell in
love with Jim Wilkie. After this I am going to call him JW.
I was deeply
in love with James Wilkie, whom has hired me as a guide.
After I
explained to Prof James the failed privatization process in Transylvania, he
said: “call me Jim”, which made conversation much easier,on a first person
bases. 
Being very
adament on leaving the country, we finally left for Budapest after the airport
visit in Cluj Napoca. There were no planes there whatsoever. So, Dr James
Platler was driving strong, and in 2 days we got through Budapest, finally, and
then got out towards Austria and Germany.


Dr James Platler,
Jim’s colleague was worried that I was a spy that is because everywhere we
went, we received special private rooms, and great Hotel deals, plus good
lunches at the Monastery, where I was a good friend with the Mother Superior.
But, after
reflecting on the situation, James decided to help me get out of Romania. In
Budapest I obtained the Austrian visa, where I needed a simple transit visa.
James Wilkie had tremendous confidence. He was irradiating confidence.
After, getting the Austrian visa, we next travelled to
Kobentzl, overlooking Salzburg, in Austria talking about the global economy. We
even spent most of our time down Salzburg city, taking pictures, and JW was
teaching me constantly economics, how the world of development worked:
finances, credit, and interest.
 JP
had more faith in me than ever.
Then we went
to Munich, where we celebrated Oktoberfest.
I have
decided to stay in the West, which is in France. I had my family friends
waiting for me. I took the plane to Paris, from Munich, to fly out to Bordeaux
to meet the family, which invited me to France. JW had to go back to teach. He
promised he would return for me soon. I was already missing James W., hardly
had he disappear from my sight at the Paris Airport when we separated that
year, in 1991.
After ten
weeks in Bordeaux, JW came to visit me. After one year in France, in Paris, I
was refused asylum in France. The national security Bureau headed by a Gris guy
(security officer) was constantly menacing me…with turning me back.

JW returned
for me and arranged with Gerard Chaliand so that security won’t meddle
constantly in my life, and I could leave for the United States, moving towards
freedom faster than ever imagined by me. It was a very wonderful fall, in
Bordeaux, so we drove to see all the castles along the Loire River.
The 1st
trip was to and along the river of LOIRE; we left in September, and came back
in December. Then we went to Paris, and visited the Versailles, Champs Elysee,
the Montmartre, and Montparnasse. We had everything to ourselves, and then we
went to the beautiful port of Marseille, while listening to the PASTORALES, and
exploring the beautiful green lands of France.

In Marseille
we stayed at the Sofitel, JW was overlooking the Bay, into the icy cold town.
And we went to the COTE Azure. We stayed at Hotel Welcome. Then rode over the
serpentined Cornish roads, overlooking the Mediterranean, Cap Ferrat, and
Monaco. Then Jim W. had to fly out to teach again, and I flew back to Bordeaux,
where I took numerous courses in European Union Regulations for the
environment, and sustainability. I was deeply in love with James.

In Bordeaux
France, 1992

Life with
the nuns in Bordeaux, France, the city of Commerce, was excellent. The mother
superior took me to Toulouse Lautrec’s castle, and swam in the Atlantic Ocean. Then
I flew to meet Jim in NICE, in 1992.
It is now
another beautiful stay at WELCOME, in Beaulieu sur Mer.

James came
back 10 weeks later, when getting a break from UCLA teaching. So, the second
time together, we travelled to Carcassonne, a fortified city, through Andorra
(a gambling center, in the Pyrenees’) Mountains. The Principality of Andorra
was rich and ostentatious with baroque buildings.  And gorgeous La Rochelle, a beautiful Bay,
nested in the mountains.
Then entered
into Spain, toward Madrid, and stayed at Hotel Paris for a week, in the center
of Madrid. We were studying the Spanish cultures, and later, I had a great
background in the Peninsular thinking of the Spanish conquistadors. Major
Spanish cities are named after in Mexico.
 In Toledo, we enjoyed the charales in the main
plaza. Morelia, in the state of Michoacán reminded me of Toledo later on.

We left to
Toledo, the town of knives, and then headed to the town of Trujillo. In
Trujillo we went and took pictures while walking on the red roofs of houses,
perfectly lined up for us to walk.
I took great
pride that I was free and nobody minded my business for the first time in my
life. Jim and I, we were only taking care of one another.
We went up
to the Devil’s Throat (a town deep in a canyon, tucked into the mountains) to
continue up in the mountains, and then went down to a walled town of Avila, to
Trujillo, and continued to rainy Madrid.

Then we
headed toward El Escorial, the monastery, and then JW flew out of Madrid. I
took the plane to France, and in Bordeaux I joined the nuns again, and
continued my studies of Folklore at the University of Bordeaux, where I was
writing about the mythical Lilith.


To paint it
in a picture of words, I am flashing out the pageant, of that beautiful
Catholic Church, as we went down from La Rochelle, along the clean river, and
the gorges of the Pyrenees Mountains


Out of many,
Switzerland is my favorite European country; the majestic mountains and the
rivers impressed me.
Monte Rosa’s
Peak and Matterhorn were absolutely fabulous, left us breathless, and the
chalet Michabell was looking down on Italy. The view out of the window was that
of Matterhorn Mountain in Zermatt.
We enjoyed
the lovely scenery in Luzern, and Interlaken, with the beautiful lake with
little bridges leading up to the center, all dressed up in geranium flowers.
Multicolored geraniums flowers were hanging out from each houses’ window. The
beautiful trip was to go up on a chairlift (teleferico) to wheel you up over
the meadows, seeing cattle and, magnificent glorious view of the Swiss
Mountains, and the peaks. It is a very gentle and slow trip.

In 1991 in
summer James and I left France for the United States, more specifically to Los
Angeles that is to UCLA, where I wanted to get my master’s degree in History.
In L.A. I
have arrived just in time to witness the 1992 riots. We found a lovely place in
Marina Del Rey, where we stayed for a week, and read all the books on Los
Angeles, and its diversity.
I have
escaped from the bad world into the good world. We loved each other so deeply.


OPENING PROFMEX To Russia And Eastern Europe
In 1992, we
went to Russia and opened the PROFMEX office with Boris Koval our Latin
Americanist, and great pianist, thus marking the opening of PROFMEX to Eastern
Europe. Publications followed.
Next we went
to Hungary and opened a PROFMEX office in Budapest, the capital on the majestic
Danube River.
Professors,
academics were curios about Mexico, and its leadership in Free Trade. And
special trade regions, how Mexico has become the linchpin for trade in the
western hemisphere, and NAFTA was in works.

Determined
to continue my education, we moved into Westwood and enrolled into the UCLA’s
Master program in the summer of 2004. I graduated soon after in 2005, but no
family was present, as my mother died of a heart attack, and could never travel
by plane. Prof James was there for me, and so was Aida Mostkoff of PROFMEX,
with flowers; an unforgettable uplifting moment registered forever.

Attending
Conferences and seminars on free trade, and managed trade was a full time job
now, in the big family that was UCLA for me. We went to a great Conference in
Toronto where I could also see my uncle who fled Europe from the Russians. My
uncle Nicholas Lazin, who has fled to Hungary in 1947, and settled down in
Oshawa, Canada, invited me to visit, Oshawa, and the General Motors Plant,
where he worked for over 40 years. It was wintertime in Canada, and it was a
harsh experience staying there and getting accustomed again to cold weather. It
just does not work with me; we don’t mix, the cold weather and me, it was as
simple as that.

Discovering new places and peoples.

It was a good
feeling escaping Ceausescu’s tyranny and discovering the hidden side of the
word. I realized how we lived in the dark for 20 years, and one does not be the
prisoner of their own thoughts and limited spirit of the others, living the
same nightmare, as I did back in Romania.
James and I
enjoyed the nuns in Bordeaux; they were free spirits and happy women, with a
great sense of humor especially the Mother Superior. In France we even visited
Toulouse Lautrec’s castle, and spent good times on the beach where the Atlantic
Ocean met the Pacific Ocean. I had spent unforgettable moments of discovery,
and fraternization with the nuns.


But the most
beautiful place on earth is Mexico’s Morelia Michoacán. Then Mexico D.F. Even
though the air is too polluted in Teotihuacan, I have found Mexico D.F. a nice
city, so we travelled around Mexico D.F. and finally visited the Pyramid of the
Sun, the pyramid of the Moon, and I found this sacred place a nice place for
meditation.

After having
worked a long time on getting a Mexican passport, I discovered Mexico as the
most beautiful country on earth. Its diversity is mind-boggling. James and I
went to Mexico every month for the past 24 years, except for this year.

But as all
ironies are happening, when I arrived to L.A., the riots were in progress.

It took 8 years of College and University learnings
with James Wilkie to better understand the Los Angeles riots for me. James
taught me in 1992 that there were no black or white issues, but there are the
“greys” in life too.
Moreover he taught me life-skills, like e.g. how to
balance a checkbook, and how to swim. And how to be the best version of myself.
All these are very important things  for
survival in the 21st century.

After graduating from UCLA, my self-development took
me again to Toronto to see my uncle Nicholas, and cousin Caroline Lazin. I
started teaching History pretty soon, when I returned to UCLA as a Teaching
Assistant for 4 years, during my MA and Doctoral Program.

After 2 years in the Doctoral
Program in History at UCLA, I graduated in 2001, in January. After graduation I
have published my Doctoral thesis, and a second book on the bright and dark
sides of Globalization with Dr James W Wilkie, Professor at UCLA. Our books are
widely read around the world and are used to teach Courses at College and
University levels. To get the books we have written together with James Wilkie,
download them from the PROFMEX website.

After 9/11 the whole world has
changed. And this will be the topic for another book. A book in which we are
still research/investigate what has changed exactly in these 25 years in Los
Angeles, and how change has impacted us, at PROFMEX. We, James and I want to
come more often to Mexico. I have been teaching a course on Globalization and
its impact on Mexico and the world of Free Trade, or managed trade in 2012 and
we stellarly did it irregardless of what the press was saying about TJ. The
other course we co-taught in Cancun, at the Universidad de Quintana Roo. It was
a great success. I miss the peaceful time in Mexico and the U.S. I miss the
indigenous people’s traditions and customs. I am now focusing on writing a new
Chapter of our lives, with Prof. James Wilkie, and my resolve is growing as per
why we are we missing those good things of the past (rituals, customs), as a
collective. That is we are together bent on recovering the collective memory of
our academic freedom.










































































































































































































































































And here we are now, paying tribute to James Wilkie
the man and the Academic of the Century! Thank you, Jim! Vivat Academia.
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