Professional Ties Leads to Personal Bliss for Romanian Workaholics
He is the ambassador but she used to be his boss. Today in Washington, 47-year-old Romanian Ambassador Adrian Vierita and his 41-year-old-wife Codrina strive to present Romania in the best possible light to Americans. Their world together — at home and at work — is like one interwoven tapestry of devotion to their East European country.
“I am a diplomat too,” Codrina began. “Here I am working as diplomatic counselor. This is the first time I am working abroad. I used to be his boss at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Here we don’t work directly together; I usually work with the chargé [d’affaires],” she explained.
“We love being here together in Washington to discover this city and work bilaterally with the U.S.,” said Codrina, a former deputy director for the United Nations Department in Romania. “This is different than New York where you are all in the same building at the United Nations and see each other all the time. It’s like one big family there and you aren’t working constantly,” she noted.
“Here in Washington, there is an agenda for ambassadors’ wives: the neighbors’ clubs, the EU group, the NATO countries and our actual neighbors on and off Massachusetts Avenue, your Embassy Row,” she added. “I’ve discovered pleasure in being with the other spouses and having a world separate from my husband’s. In the beginning, I thought I had to go to everything to which I was invited. I was so curious — everything was new to me. But after two to three months, things settled down and I learned to choose what was most important to me and to Romania.
“Each day we are both growing,” she continued. “My husband always wants to be better and we try every day to learn something new. It isn’t hard here. This experience in Washington is unbelievable. We can’t imagine another opportunity bigger than this.”
Her husband clearly agrees. “I want to give priority to everything,” he said earnestly, allowing a little smile to peek through. “It drives me crazy and I am always frustrated. I find it hard to live up to my own expectations here but it is great medicine for me, an inspiration in fact. The hardest thing is for me to keep everything in balance. I feel myself taken by the wind.”
Codrina smiled. “And I have to drag you back to the ground — to see the reality and decide what’s actually possible,” she said.
“Yes, I need brakes,” he agreed goodheartedly, pointing to his wife. “I need to be more reflective and maybe less emotional … and take things less personally.”
After almost two years in non-stop Washington, Codrina has grown accustomed to living with “a perfectionist.”
“Our personal life and our professional life are all one. We wake up in the morning and all of a sudden it’s the end of the day. The family, our professional life, the life of our daughter Mica … all seem to be mixed into one.”
It makes for an interesting, if hectic, life in Washington for Codrina, Adrian and 6-year-old Mica Vierita. “They call me at 4 in the morning from the ministry — there is seven hours’ difference between Bucharest and Washington — and my e-mail is open all the time,” said Adrian. “My iPhone is always with me and now my daughter is so used to it, she takes pictures of all of us.”
“And when Mica is in the picture,” her mother added, “she looks identical to Adrian when he was 6.”
For many years though, Codrina was strictly focused on her career, not on having a family. She has a varied background, first studying math and physics at Mihai Viteazul National College in Romania’s capital city and then teaching French literature at the University of Bucharest. Next, she took a general course on diplomatic training organized by the International Institute of Public Administration in Paris and then another training course on international relations offered by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Romanian Institute for International Studies in Bucharest. Then it was back to Paris to study at the Institute for Francophone High Studies.
With her fluency in French and knowledge of the French culture, Codrina served as director of Romania’s General Headquarters for Francophone just before coming to Washington in January 2008. She has had many articles published in Francophone periodicals and created diplomatic training courses for the Foreign Affairs Ministry.
“I have a great advantage of knowing most of the diplomats and the staff from my position with the Foreign Ministry at home,” Codrina said. “I understand each staff person’s strengths and weaknesses, including our own,” she added honestly.
“As one of the diplomatic counselors, I am a member of the team,” noted Codrina, who met her future husband at the United Nations Department in Romania. “That’s where we met, when I was his boss. Two years later, we were married,” she said.
“Something unbelievable happened, there was obvious electricity. I knew right away that it was bigger than both of us. He invited me to dinner at a very fancy place and then we went out every night that week. I think he was a little shy because I was his boss,” she recalled.
“It was clear to me that we must be a couple,” Adrian said, jumping in. “If I were not married, I could never imagine my professional life going in this direction. It’s clear for me that my first priority is my family. To be good in my professional life, everything must be perfect at home.”
“But there is a big difference between women and men,” Codrina injected into their ping-pong game of words. “You work all day but women juggle the family too. Before having our daughter Mica, I was addicted to work. I got pregnant when I was still deputy director and I expected to return to work in two months. But once I had a baby, I decided to stay home for two years” — the time mothers have for pregnancy leave in Romania.
“I realized that being a mother was my most important job,” said this high-ranking official. “So I changed my priorities. If Mica is happy, he’s happy and then so am I. From the beginning, I knew I needed to be a [stay-at-home] mom,” Codrina explained.
“Our professional life is very rich here but so is our personal life,” concluded this mother and active diplomat. “Everything is all together for us.”
About the Author
Gail Scott is a contributing writer for The Washington Diplomat and lifestyle columnist for the Diplomatic Pouch.