Peace Corps Writers
For two years, Andy Trincia will be writing about his days as a Peace Corps Volunteer for
Peace Corps Writers.

 
Andy Trincia

Read other short pieces about PCV experiences

Andy's previous articles:
Training

Teaching high schoolers free-market economics

Looking for Ben Franklin in Timisoara

Partying with Peasants and A Letter to America

Customer Service?

Romania Themepark Mania

The Neighbor's Goat

Some of Andy's photos are at Yahoo
Click on the small icon of the file folder and photo.

by Andy Trincia (Romania 2002–  )

Corrupting Future Prosecutors
Law School for Dummies?

I’VE LEARNED TO LIVE WITH sporadic hot water, stray dogs on dirty streets, uneven andPrinter friendly version decrepit sidewalks that can twist ankles, ignorance and rudeness, even a mass of inferior infrastructure. These are daily nuisances. But after 18 months, I can’t seem to get over a much larger problem, the constant corruption in Romania. It’s more than gotten old.
     Just last week, I carried my camera around town for a few days, intending to take some “everyday” shots of my surroundings, especially on the university campus where I work. Near a store frequented by students, a small, hand-scrawled sign caught my eye: “Vand lucrare de diploma la drept international public” and a mobile telephone number. Somebody was offering to sell all of the work needed to complete law school, specifically in international public law (unlike the American system, law school here is only an undergraduate program).
     Though positively despicable, it’s common here for students to bribe professors and deans for grades, even in law and medical school, and in particular, law school graduates have to pay much larger bribes than most professions in order to get a job. I guess selling or buying academic work is no different, but I’d not seen such a brazen attempt before. And no doubt, someone bought it — and I sure don’t want that person as my attorney. Not that America or any place else is 100 percent clean, but I really can’t imagine this back home. Even if someone tried it, they wouldn’t be dumb enough to post a sign AND include a phone number. Here nobody bats an eyelash.


The sign in situ . . .
     I was disgusted. I immediately wondered how many students I’ve taught or worked with do this kind of thing. I almost took a picture but kept walking. I went for a quick lunch, but that sign was still in my head. After downing a bowl of chicken soup, I saw the same sign taped to a tree. Then another one, just across the street. Now I wanted the photo. As I was shooting this little piece of injustice, two young men, obviously students, were posting signs for a musical event.
        They asked me what I was doing. I replied in Romanian that I just had to take a photo of the law school sign, that it was just incredible. One asked where I was from and then switched to pretty good English.
     “Why is it so incredible?” he asked.
     “I am reading this correctly, right, that this person is selling all of their law school work?”
     “Yes. But why is that unusual? And maybe it’s not his work.”
     On that note, I bid adieu to the puzzled-looking students and continued on my way. This was just days after Romania was declared the most-corrupt country in Europe — and one of the most in the world — by Transparency International, a respected, Berlin-based non-governmental organization. This was also just after a referendum election for a new, modernized Constitution (needed for European Union membership), which passed, but was plagued by well-publicized fraud allegations including ballot-stuffing and voter incentives, not to mention the government’s $1.1 million vote-yes ad campaign in this land of $100 per month average salaries. And three Cabinet-level ministers recently resigned amid serious corruption allegations, including, ever so ironically, the Minister of European Integration, a person with a major role in helping Romania combat corruption, and overcoming other hurdles, to join the EU in 2007. That, by the way, may be delayed as Romania is the only candidate country not to have earned “functional market economy” status, having just been rejected again by Brussels. Corruption, with its counterproductive, economic ripple effect, is largely the culprit. The EU, on so many fronts, is simply another world. The longer I live here, sometimes I can’t even believe the 2007 “invitation” date, which many Romanians still misconstrue as some kind of mandate, whether earned or not. Guess again.
  
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