By Rachel Brown, B.A. student.

Insight from Bucharest, Romania.

It’s hot. It’s so hot I can’t breathe and I wish this taxi had air-conditioning. I never wish for air-conditioning but all four windows are wide open and I still feel like I am suffocating. It is so bright outside that the industrial buildings stretching from the airport to Bucharest city are white-washed, bleached as if my eyes are a camera, set on over-expose. The driver is smoking and talking on his phone and looking over his shoulder at me at the same time. He has the bluest eyes I’ve ever seen. Walking through the airport I was struck over and over again by blue, blue eyes and dark, dark skin. Later at my hotel I will Google “blue eyes Romania.” I end up in a rabbit hole of stories about blue-eyed Arabs, and dating sites for men to meet hot young Romanian women, conspiracy theorists talking about blue-eyes sometimes being a dominant gene instead of a recessive one, and a Wikipedia article about how Estonia’s population is 99% blue eyed.  I scour the television stations to catch sight of these blue eyes again. But the airport is the only place I see them.

I am in Bucharest, Romania for two weeks to work for the secretariat of an international environmental treaty on wetlands, biodiversity and climate change–the Ramsar Convention. It is their triennial COP, or Conference of the Parties, where delegates from about 153 different countries come together to negotiate environmental policy, which they will then take home with them and implement.

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