Pioneer

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These photos were taken in one of the happiest days of my childhood. I was such an anxious child, always worrying, always frightened of unknown dangers. But I was lucky to grow up in socialist times, when children were taught that everything is rational and simple, that truth and justice will always win, that every darkness can be illuminated by the greatness of the human mind, that only light and clarity awaits for us in the future. No matter how wrong this hope proved to be, no matter how many beings and ways of living this ideology left out, no matter how hypocritical this rhetoric really was, I still think of those times of delusion as a perfect environment for me to grow up in. Believing in equality and fairness, believing in a responsible collectivity, in which people guide and help each other, in which mistakes are criticized constructively and progress is made together. A big part of being a child in socialist times was being a member of a collectivity presented as being as such, of being a pioneer, part of the organization of children between 8 and 14. The kids would prepare by learning poems and songs (really ridiculous ones thinking of them now, but they seemed so great and reassuring back then) for the ceremony in which you would enter the organization and you would receive the red scarf, the symbol of pioneers. It happened that the ceremony in which I was made a pioneer was scheduled on my birthday. It was the best birthday ever. Going home from school to my birthday party, wearing my brand new pioneer attire, a small kid on the street told her mother: “Look mom a pioneer!” and my 8 year old self promised to never forget that moment. And I never did.

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