Yesterday I was given a ‘I’m IN’ sticker outside of Balham station. I stuck it to my coat (yes, the coat I still wear even though it’s end of June!) and felt a surge of happiness that I was part of a tribe. A tribe of sane and intelligent people campaigning tirelessly for what should be a no brainer: to stay in Europe. And sadly, so they should, and so I should, because the perspective of a successful Leave campaign will leave us all bereft.
3 years ago I experienced one of the proudest moments of my life when I was awarded British citizenship. And not because I am not proud of being a Romanian, but because UK had been my home for many years and ever since I set foot on the island I felt nothing but inclusion and the possibility of a limitless future. UK welcomed me and I answered back by giving it all I got. Standing up and singing the national anthem alongside the other freshly anointed citizens, I felt tears running down my cheeks, because I was home.
There are many ways in which I feel proud to be a UK citizen and seeing all those wonderful people fighting to protect Britain’s most precious qualities – its diversity, its freedom, its humanity – reminded me of that day, 3 years ago. There were moments when I felt disheartened and appalled by the very idea that a country would willingly toss all the moral, economical and social advances it has created in the last 20-30 years for a utopian return to a past that never really was. I was brokenhearted to think that the same country that welcomed me 3 years ago, by the very act of voting to leave the EU, is now effectively rejecting me and everything I (and millions like me) stand for: freedom to choose where I want to live, freedom to thrive in a country that appreciates my intelligence, my skills and my contribution, freedom to travel freely (and needless to say that, coming from a former closed-up communist country, this is a freedom I do not take for granted).
But at the same time, what I see around me are people who fight for the same freedom. People outside the tube station handing out leaflets and stickers. People on Facebook and Twitter sharing articles and resources. People who put themselves out there and sadly (RIP, Jo Cox) even lost their lives for the same freedom.
I choose to believe that there are more of us than there are of them. I choose to believe that my vote will make a difference. I simply refuse to believe that the same country that gave me a home will ever let me down.