I had a very interesting conversation today with some of my students in one of the upper grades. We were discussing social problems in Romania, having started by explaining that you can start driving at age 16 in America, but you cannot drink until you are 21. This led to discussions about alcohol and it's use amongst minors, drugs and which were the most common, and a few other problems.
I asked what they thought Romania's biggest problem was. "Gypsies."
I acted a bit surprised, though I shouldn't have been. The anti-Roma sentiment here in Romania and in other countries in Europe is quite well known and very acceptable. We discussed the specific complaints against the Roma community, whether anyone had hands on experience, and finally what could be done. The conversation continued until I asked "So what is the solution to the Gypsy problem?" Without any hesitation...
"Kill them all."
I was disturbed, certainly. I sputtered something about the Holocaust, and how I hoped the world wouldn't sit by and watch genocide happen again.
Except we have, time and again. The country I live in borders Serbia. That happened in MY lifetime.
Where do I even start? I'm glad we had the conversation, but it is hard to know where to go. I want my students to keep talking about this- but I also struggle with sitting and listening to such open hatred. What now?