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Meet Rodica Crudu from Moldova

The decision to stay, the power to act
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© Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom

ECONOMICS, ACADEMIA & CIVIL SOCIETY

Talk about multitasking! Rodica Crudu is an associate professor, a European economic policies expert at a non-profit, the Laboratory for Initiatives for Development-Moldova, and editor-in-chief of the Eastern European Journal of Regional Studies. Up until recently, she was the dean of the Faculty of International Economic Relations of the Academy of Economic Studies of Moldova. She has also been recognized as a Jean Monnet professor. Her experience includes coordinating several EU funded projects in the fields of European integration studies and capacity building in higher education.

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© Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom

She teaches courses on “European Integration and Economy” and “Techniques of foreign trade” for undergraduate students and “EU Institutions and Policies” for those in master programmes.

“Young people in Moldova are more pro-European; I feel this is the case even among the Russian speaking students.” She likes to see how students are starting to see more than the obvious and are having healthy discussions. “Their minds are starting to open up to new ideas, they’re embracing European values.”

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© Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom

In 2018 she was given the National Crystal Quality Award for promoting quality in higher education in Moldova.

Her experiences during the fellowships she won have led her to rethink her teaching strategies and put aside the old models that she was subjected to as a student.

Her determination to change the environment and the atmosphere around her did not stay in the classroom. She pushed the faculty to have more presence on social media and established exchange programs with foreign universities for students and teachers. Rodica also helped create a well-equipped space for students to work and meet, modelled on what she saw in Western universities and libraries.

She has been teaching entrepreneurship in both Romania and Moldova, which provokes comparisons between the students of these two countries, who are as close as they can be in terms of language and tradition. “It feels different.” She says the intuition and the decisiveness in the two groups are different. “Imagine there’s a cake. Moldovan students can admire and smell it, but they only watch how others taste it. Romanian students already know the taste and the flavour very well.”

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© Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom

Since the turbulent events in Eastern Europe in 1989 and dissolution of the USSR in 1991, Moldova, independent since then, has been a territory constantly deserted by its citizens. Longterm economic instability has led to a mass emigration.

Despite the opportunities to live abroad permanently, Rodica has always decided to come back. During her professional activity, Rodica Crudu participated in numerous study visits and professional internships in various European countries (the UK, Spain, Belgium, Germany, Lithuania, Romania, etc.) and also did a Fulbright Fellowship in Washington, DC.

“It’s the way I was brought up - with the belief that we can have a better life at home and everyone should contribute to that.”

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© Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom

Mrs Crudu has been unceasingly optimistic about the future of her country since late 2020, when Maia Sandu from the pro-European Party for Action and Solidarity became the first female President of Moldova.

Regarding her own experience as a woman in academia, she finds that “men are more easily promoted while women are supposed to stay in the shadows.”

She tries to frame her story as an example to her two daughters. “I tell them that if you’re consistent in your efforts, if you work hard, the results will always come but work shouldn’t overshadow happiness. Because at the end of the day it’s all about happiness and empowerment. If you find the right balance, it becomes easier later on.”

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© Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom

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