War and peace?! These two words are known to everybody, but not everybody knows what they mean in reality. War means death, woe and suffering. Peace means life, happiness and laughter. It’s eight years since the Cold War ended, but still there are some fears and distrusts from both former sides of the conflict. Every war, even a cold war, makes people suffer and experience fear.
“What was the Cold War?” someone might ask today. And he would be a lucky person if he didn’t know what it is in fact — a diplomatic tension between the USSR and the USA, a fight for political and economic advantages in order to dominate the world. For me, when I was a little girl in the USSR, the words “Cold War” meant that vicious people from distant America would come to invade my country, destroying everything and killing all of us. I worried about my father who served in the Soviet Army and was a Soviet warrior full of martial spirit and patriotism. I was raised to love and respect our great and mighty Soviet Union, to be faithful to it. Everyone in the world who was now with us, was against us. The fear to be left behind the USa made people crazy. New war heads, including nuclear warheads, were made. Our family moved to East Germany because of my father’s military service. The Soviet Army was to be ready to repel aggression from the United States.
I knew almost nothing about the USA at that time. We (the common people) were isolated. I learned a stereotype that presented all Americans as short and very fat people with a lot of money in their pockets who were very greedy and wanted to invade my Soviet Motherland. I couldn’t even imagine that they might have children like me.
At the same time, thousands of miles way to the west, lived another girl. But she was not “the same.” She was American — my “enemy.” She didn’t know very much either about the Cold War or about her country’s enemies whom she imagined to be like robots or machines, called “communists.” Her father was in the USA military. He moved to West Germany to defend their interests of the United States. Our fathers were officially enemies because of the Cold War. They could easily kill each other any minute. We lived our own lives having a different childhood, adolescence and hostility toward an unknown enemy.
But now this time has gone. The “Iron Curtain” has been pulled down. The USSR has been broken down. There is no more Cold War. I’ve come to the USA to be a little ambassador of my new counry called Belarus. I’m not an enemy for Americans anymore. And they are not enemies for me either. As fate has willed, I have a sister now — that litle American girl whose father was in the U.S. military during the Cold War.
We both don’t want to remember that stupid war and the fear we experienced as children. We are friends, and, what is more, we are sisters, sharing the same sorrow and joy together.
Rimma Vladimirovna Kaftanchikova is an exchange student from Belarus, a small country in eastern Europe, currently living in Hampden. She is a senior at John Bapst Memorial High School in Bangor.