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The World Media’s Assault on Serbia


 

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We’ve all heard about the crimes that Serb troops committed in Bosnia, Croatia and in Kosovo I Metohija. I’m sure some of the acts we heard and read about in the western media were true, while many of them were intentionally fabricated. Don’t get me wrong, any crime committed is a horrible thing and should be investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice, but be fair!

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One example of media fabrication  would be the claim that Serbs were setting up concentration camps in Bosnia and starving the victims. This  American gentleman explains the photo in detail in this short Youtube clip.

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What about the Croats cleansing hundreds of thousands of Serbs from their birthplace? Why didn’t my media bombard me with newspaper headlines and news stories about that?

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Serbs Being Forced out of Croatia

The Serbs have been tried and convicted for war crimes in the Hague at an alarming rate. Did former Croat general Ante Gotovina and ex-special police chief Mladen Markac receive just punishment for the atrocities committed against ethnic Serbs during Operation Storm in 1995? Nope…..

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Albanian ripping cross off of a Serbian Orthodox Church in Kosovo

What about the Albanians destroying hundreds of homes and over 100+ churches? Did any of that make the headlines in my country? Nope….. They were friends of the US and NATO and we were about to make a lot of money off of their new “country”. Bill Clinton couldn’t allow Americans to see pics and video of our “friend” and “ally” ripping crosses off of churches. The people might have started asking a few more questions if they had.

The media doesn’t want to talk about that stuff, but they never take a break from finding things that could make the Serbs look bad.

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Take the Serb football fans who chanted derogatory things at that Brazilian football player for instance, that made headlines in every corner of the globe.  It’s sad and uncalled for, but you can’t judge an entire nation by the words of a few football fans! If we judged every nation’s citizens by the acts of football fans, you’d probably think the world was filled with demons.

Serbia shouldn’t be labeled as a country of “racists”. It’s just not true. The U.S. and England aren’t ones that should be pointing fingers and calling anyone racist. If I remember correctly, both of them took part in the slave trade. Slavery wasn’t outlawed in the United States until 1863. Hell, Blacks couldn’t even vote until the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  Did Serbia ever have slaves? No!

I’m not black so it makes little sense for me to sit here and tell you that Serbia isn’t a racist country. You should listen to some of my friends who are:

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Sheriff is a young man from Liberia who has been living in Norway for a number of years. I was able to sit down with him and ask him some questions about Serbia and if he had any issue with racism.

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Arthur is another good friend of mine. He’s an American from the great state of New Jersey. He just completed his 6 trip to Serbia and will be back in May for his 7th. Has he experienced any racism? Listen to him and find out.

 

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Dara is a lovely gal who lives in Ireland. She contacted me before her first visit with some concerns about being black in Serbia. She took the leap and loved every second of it! Here is my interview with her.

12936611_10105593675346795_5534105201918857505_nHeather is a beautiful young lady from the state of Louisiana. She has spent the last few summers in Serbia and has never had any negative situations. She said that Serbian people sometimes stare at her, but it’s a stare of curiosity, not a stare of contempt like happens in some places in the US.

There are more folks, but I didn’t get their permission to write about them. One is an African American gal who married a Serbian in a small village here in Vojvodina. She lives with her children and Serbian husband in a tiny village and has no issues with racism. There are tons of African American football players who come here each year and have nothing but great things to say about the hospitality and kindness of the Serbian people.

I’ve been living in this country for close to 6 years now and the media bias is so blatantly obvious. I’m always asking my Serbian friends how they can keep their cool and not let that get to them. It would be hard to have the whole world accusing you and vilifying you all the time. One of my friends said it best “We have gotten used to it. F*** the rest of the world. We have good looking women, good food, and great nightlife. We don’t need their approval”

 
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Posted by on March 5, 2017 in Through my eyes

 

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Serbian City/Town/Village Names Translated into English


 

Serbia has a lot of unique city/town/village names. A friend of mine from Republika Srpska, Hristof Romanic, decided to throw together some translations for some of them.

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Can you guess the names without cheating?

Subotica
Srbobran
Srpska Crnja
Bačka Palanka
Novi Sad
Deliblato
Crna bara
Beograd
Kurjače
Zlokuće
Valjevo
Sisavci
Velike Pčelice
Bor
Krivi Vir
Mokra Gora
Kraljevo
Zasad
Sokobanja
Ribarska Banja
Novi Pazar
Niš
Prijepolje
Žitorađa
Peć
Gornje Žabsko
Baba boks
Begunci

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2017 in Through my eyes, What others think

 

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Top 10 Things I miss About Living in Novi Sad, Serbia


 

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It’s only been two months since I left Serbia, but i’m already missing a few things. I’m spending the summer on the island of Nantucket off the coast of Massachusetts with 8 of my Serbian students to see how they work and to make some money. One of my students from Novi Sad was even featured in BLIC for his awesome  summer experience. My return flight to Serbia is scheduled for Sept 17th when I fly from NYC to Amsterdam to Belgrade. I’ll be back just in time for the world’s largest work and travel conference which will be held in Belgrade. Work and Travel Group is one of the two representatives from Serbia who will be organizing this massive event. I’ll be giving a presentation to over 600 representatives from work and travel offices all over the world.

The boys and I are constantly discussing what we miss the most about Serbia so I thought i’d throw together a quick list of the things that I miss about Serbia. Let’s get started:

10. Srpski Sir

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I’m a big fan of cheese and Serbia is home to lots of it! We have a lot of cheeses here, but the homemade stuff you find in Serbia can’t be beat. I know an American who flew to Serbia to do a documentary on cheese. From Pirot to Zlatibor to Sijenica to Vojvodina, they have awesome cheeses!

 

9. Living alone in my $130 mo apartment 

 

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I moved into my own apartment when I was 17 and only had a roommate once in my life. It’s very difficult to go from living alone to living with 6 others. I have my own room, but feel so uncomfortable having so many others in my house. You don’t know when you can use the washing machine, bathroom, when you can cook and how quiet you must be. I pay $800 a month here in Nantucket for this accommodation, while my little apartment in the heart of Novi Sad was only $130 a month.

 

8. Pekara

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Who would think you would really miss a bakery? Well….. I sure as hell do. In Serbia, you are never more than a few blocks from a bakery filled with fresh burek, jogurt, and bread. You can’t go wrong with a 100 dinar slice of burek on your way to work.

 

7. Trafika

 

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We have a lot of 24/7 stores throughout the USA, but not here on the island of Nantucket. The 24/7 trafikas in Novi Sad really had me spoiled. If you needed a soda, chips, sweets or phone credits at 4 am, no problem. The stores close at 10 here so if you forgot something, too bad.

 

6. Ajvar

 

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The first time I tried this stuff, I hated it. That was back in 2010 and now it’s one thing that I eat on a daily basis. You will find many Serbians growing lots and lots of peppers. They use them to prepare one of the most delicious condiments on the globe. You can find it in some American stores, but nothing beats the homemade ajvar that my friends bring me each fall.

 

5. Sasa Matic 

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Sasa has turned into one of my favorite Serbians.   This man has one of the most beautiful voices I’ve ever heard. It took me a few years to get into the Serbian folk music scene, but i’m there. My favorite songs are : Kad Ljubav Zakasni, Nadji Novu Ljubav, Kralj Izgubljenih Stvari, Samo Ovu Noc, Reskiraj, Poklonite Mi Nju Za Rodjendan and almost anything else that comes out of his mouth. I listen to him each morning and on my IPOD, but miss hearing him in the bars and kafanas. My buddy is going to do his best to meet me with him.

4. Nightlife

 

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The USA has some great nightlife in certain places, but not 7 days a week like you can find in many parts of Serbia. They just recently passed an ordinance in Novi Sad that has limited the hours, but it still beats Nantucket. The Serbian people like to party and you will find the bars full  Mon-Sunday. That’s not the case here. I like to go out for a few beers after work, but many of these bars in Nantucket close at 11 or 12. The majority are almost empty after 10pm through the week. The crowds give me a burst of energy and keep me from feeling like an alcoholic. 🙂

 

3. Prices

 

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You wouldn’t believe how hard it is to go from Serbia to Nantucket which is one of the most expensive places in the USA. My average meal in a little restaurant is around $40. That usually includes a couple beers and main course. The beer is $7 in the bar that I like to go. A Serb, Macedonian and I went to this little bar by my house the other night. In one hour, we had a bill of $134!!  In Novi Sad, I could go out and have an amazing time on 1,000 dinars. Horus Nargile Bar is my daily hangout. I can smoke a nargile, drink a shot of rakija, two beers and still be under 1000. Living in Serbia with American money, can’t be beat.

 

 

 

2. Serbian summer festivals

belgrade-beer-fest-2013-reggae-rs1-950x532Serbia is home to some of the best festivals. They have Belgrade Beer Festival in Belgrade, Guca Trumpet Festival, Exit Festival in Novi Sad, Nisville Jazz Fest in Nis, Rostiljada in Leskovac,  and many many more. There is always something going on during the Serbian summer months.

 

 
1. Rostilj

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You wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve dreamed of a big mixed meat platter with kajmak. The boys all miss the hell out of their meat. The first thing I’m going to do when I return on Sept 17th is hit up this great kafana in Belgrade for a big mixed meat platter! If you haven’t had Serbian rostilj, your life sucks.

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 22, 2016 in USA vs Serbia

 

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My Expedition in Serbian Vlach Country


My birthday was a few weeks away, Nov 7th, and I was searching around for somewhere to go. I was so very close to booking a flight to Tirana, Albania. That might sound like an odd choice since I’ve been a staunch Serbian supporter for all these years, but I really wanted to meet some Albanians on their home turf. You shouldn’t judge a whole race by the acts of a few freaks on Youtube and Facebook. 🙂 It was time to open my mind and go for something adventurous.

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Well, that all changed because of the video I made showing my support of  Kosovo’s denial into UNESCO. I received some very scary, nasty, and threatening messages from Kosovo and all over Albania. What was I going to do now?

Eastern Serbia is a region that I haven’t had many opportunities to see. It’s filled with some ancient historic sites, beautiful mountains, canyons and untouched forests. It’s also home to a minority group here in Serbia that has always interested me…… Vlachs.

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The Vlachs were totally unknown to me until about 2 years ago. Vampires, spirits, magic and superstitions have always interested me.They are big believers in all of them.

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The Vlachs are a minority group that are spread between Serbia, Hungary, Ukraine,Croatia, Macedonia, Albania, Greece and Bulgaria. According to the 2011 census, Serbia has roughly 35,000 Vlachs who mainly reside in the Bor and Zajecar districts of Serbia in the eastern part of the country. They have a separate minority council and are represented in the population censuses as a separate ethnicity. The language spoken by the Vlachs consists of two distinct Romanian subdialects spoken in regions neighboring Romania: one major group of Vlachs speaks the dialect spoken in Mehedinți County in western Oltenia, while the other major group speaks a dialect similar to the one spoken in the neighboring region of Banat .The majority of them follow the Eastern Orthodox faith.

I hadn’t had the opportunity to befriend any of them until last year. One of the students, Marko Radojkovic, signed up on our summer work and travel program last year and we became fast friends. I worked with him a lot on his English and how to get through the U.S. Embassy visa interview. He told me when he returned from the USA, he would take me to see how the Vlachs live in his hometown of Majdanpek.

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Majdanpek is a little town of 7,000 folks nestled in the forests and hills of eastern Serbia. The town is famous as a copper mine district, since the early 17th century. The origin of the name is based on words majdan(related to Turkish madän, mine) and river Pek – mine on river Pek. Throughout its history, mining development was held by many foreign owners (Czechs, Belgians, Austrians) , and was extensively exploited. Today, it’s controlled by the Russians.  The town was industrialized in the mid-20th century, by the industrial program supported by SFR Yugoslavia’s Government of that time, and the personal influence of J.B.Tito (marshal and lifetime prime minister since the end of WWII until 1980). He once referred to it as “The Golden City”.  Through the late 20th century, the town was in a period of industrial progress and one of the most developed areas in copper mining and metallurgy.

I took off work for three days and decided I’d spend it at his place on Friday, and Saturday and Sunday in Donji Milanovac. I met Marko at the bus station in Belgrade early on Friday morning. We boarded the 8:45am bus to Majdanpek. It’s a long trip (3.5 hours) as the roads are not very developed and the bus stops in all the little towns along the way. Marko brought along a little bag full of snacks and a little bottle of homemade rakija, dunja mixed with apple, that made our ride a little more bearable. The bus ticket was only 1300 dinars ($13) for a round trip ticket and it was surprisingly empty. We took up the the 5 seats in the back of the bus and chatted about randomness for the entire ride to Majdanpek. The worst thing about Serbian buses is the lack of a bathroom. You need to make sure you take care of business prior to boarding or you have to ask the driver to pull over on the side of the road. 🙂

 

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Marko told me a lot about the creepy tales of some of the places along the way. We passed this little abandoned house along the way that was known to be haunted. They say that people can hear a baby screaming late into the night from the depths of the old house. No one has been able to stay in the house for an entire night. It would make a great episode of Ghost Hunters.

 

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We finally arrive into Majdanpek. The surrounding area is amazingly beautiful. There are untouched forests with a spatter of farm houses and abandoned homes. My first impression of Majdanpek was how massive the  mine that’s located right beside the town was. They say it’s one of the biggest copper mines in Europe. It’s currently owned by a Russian company and is one of the biggest employers in this region.

 

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The town of Majdanpek is surrounded by forests and almost every single resident lives in an apartment complex. You don’t see very many homes at all. We jump off the bus, grab our bags and head to his family’s clothing store that’s right in the center of Majdanpek. There’s a lovely little church right in the center.

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The town has a downtown area that’s at the bottom of the hill and an uptown area that’s on the top of the hill. It’s no wonder we didn’t see many overweight folks, because it’s a workout to go from one side to the other.

We meet up with his mother at her lovely little clothing store. She’s a very cheerful and welcoming woman. We grab the house keys from her and head up to his apartment. The apartment is a charming little thing that has been remodeled with care. The mother had some hot Vlach pie waiting for us in the oven. It was delicious! It was made with layers of crust with meat and cheese inside it. We ate till we couldn’t eat anymore, showered, drank a coffee and waited on his parents to get home. They had a surprise for me!

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The father and mother arrive in a big yellow van that they use to haul their clothing from Belgrade to Majdanpek. We grab our stuff and jump in the van. They still haven’t told me what we are doing, but we stop off at the tourist organization in the town center. A tour guide hops in and we are on our way to some surprise location. The tour guide is a middle aged lady who speaks English very well. She accidentally mentions something and I know where we are headed, Rajko’s Cave! This is the one tourist site that I had really wanted to visit in Majdanpek, but they had told me it was closed for the season! 🙂 We were going to have a private tour of the cave!

 

Marko and I

Rajko’s Cave is a nature lover’s dream!  The total length of the cave is 2.304 meters while the tourist path is 1.410,5 meters. Air temperature is 8 degrees Celsius and relative humidity is 100%. The cave consists of two physically separated caverns: an underground river channel and a spring cave, both of which have two floors. A series of attractive groupings are found in Rajko’s Cave: The Egyptian Goddes, the Snail, Stump with Mushrooms, Sleeping Bear and several cave halls. The Rajko’s cave has the highest quality of cave ornaments.

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According to a legend, Rajko’s Cave was named after a leader of “hajduks” (outlaws fighting against the Ottoman rule) Rajko, who attacked and robbed people on the way from Donji Milanovac to Majdanpek and hid his prey in the cave. They say the area has been ripe with treasure hunters who have dreams of stumbling upon the riches of Rajko.

 

Marko and Charles

The guide takes on an hour long trip through the depths of the gorgeous cave (video available here). She fills us in on all the facts and mysteries surrounding the cave. I’ve been in numerous caves in my life, but this one takes the cake!

 

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They tourist organization and Serbian government have done a great job making this cave tourist friendly. They have beautiful lighting in most areas and pristine walkways and stairs in all the locations. Rajko’s Cave is a must see on any visit to Serbia! You won’t be disappointed!

 

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We depart the cave to explore the surrounding forests and hills. Marko’s parents and the guide head back in the van while Marko and I decide to walk the 3-4 km back to Majdanpek through the dense forests. The area around the entrance has some bbq pits and picnic tables for all of their summer campers. We sip some of the water that’s pouring out of the cave depths. The water is cold and refreshing and very clean!

 

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November was a great time to come to this part of Serbia. The trees were an amazing array of different colors! The pictures do it no justice. We wander around this large lake that’s a few meters from the cave.

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Marko tells me more legends of the area while we walk up this big hill surrounded by thick forests and layers of orange leaves. I’m hoping to catch site of some of the Vlach witches! 🙂 There’s an episode of VICE Serbia that shows some of the strange customs of the old Vlachs that was filmed right around this area.

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They show how some of the Vlach magic believers hang doll heads throughout the forest to rid themselves of evil spirits so that’s what I wanted to see. Well, I would have probably crapped my pants if I had, but it sounds good to say now. We reach an old wooden fence in the middle of the woods where there are bits of clothing wrapped around many of  the little trees. 😮 We don’t know what it was for, but it spooked me a bit. A little later, we run into an old farmhouse up on a hill. There’s an old man entering into his gate with some wood on his back. I wanted to speak to him, but thought better of it.

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We continue on our mission and run into this old bridge that’s made out of broken slats of wood. I’m glad Marko knew about the loose slats, because I would have fell through one or two of them if I had been alone!

We come out of the clearing by the Majdanpek high school and one of the biggest indoor swimming pools in Serbia. It was built during the Yugoslavian times for the Yugoslav National Swim Team to practice in. They don’t have enough money to keep the water heated in the winter months so it was closed. The high school is in very rough shape. There was spray paint and broken windows on many portions of the building. It was Friday evening so school was out, but there was a group of kids sitting on the front steps of the school. We walked around back to see this large monument that Tito had built. It had a large open space in front and seating for some kind of outdoor speeches or performances. The monument was in a similar condition to the school. It had been spray painted on, busted in a few places, and wasn’t worth much of a look.

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The sun was rapidly falling and dinner was ready so we headed back to Marko’s house. Momma had prepared a delicious Vlach meal for us to eat. It was something called vlaski kacamak. It reminded me a little of cornbread-like substance that you place on a plate and then spread this thick, delicious stew of peppers, pork, and sauce all over it! It was terrific! I ate more than I should of while chatting with the family.  Marko had to do all the translations so he was starting to get a headache. 🙂 I hear that from a lot of people who aren’t used to speaking in other languages.

Time to head to downtown to check out the nightlife. We didn’t want to stay long because we had to get up early to explore a few more things and then head to Donji Milanovac. We took a long, easy, downhill walk downtown which was nearly empty for a Friday night. The thing I noticed most was the lack of cafes and bars. The majority of Serbian towns have a trillion of them, but not Majdanpek. We stopped in one of them that was pretty full. Marko’s cousin was in there so they chatted away for a bit while I sucked down a couple beers.

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I saw this little kafana type place on the corner with a bunch of old men in it and told Marko that we had to go there. The old, places are usually some of my favorite places to visit in Serbian towns. I never go alone, but since he was with me we headed inside. It was a lot nicer than I had expected. We watched a little bit of Rocky I on tv, chatted with the waitress and threw down three or four beers.

It was time to head home. Marko didn’t want to catch a taxi which are only 70 dinars in Majdanpek so we walked the whole way uphill! It just about killed me, but didn’t seem to phase him. 🙂

The parents had my bed made for me and I crashed for the night in the home of a Vlach.

Continued in the next article……. If you want to see the video I made of this first part of the trip, click here.

 

 
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Posted by on November 14, 2015 in Through my eyes

 

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Questionnaire for Serbians Living in Serbia


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I’m 100 steps closer to getting my tour idea legal. After years and years of answering questions from foreigner after foreigner about traveling in Serbia, I decided to create my own travel association. Creating an actual tour company in Serbia is very difficult. There are tons and tons of requirements that must be met. If you want to create your own customs tours, you must have a degree in tourism and a few years of tourism experience. They also require 50K euros in an account. My lawyer here in Novi Sad, after hearing about what all I do here and my mission, suggested I create an association instead. She is going to take care of all the legal paperwork and such to get this association registered. We have a number of aspects that we need to get completed, but we are on our way! My Serbian pal from Novi Sad is a business owner here in Novi Sad. His father was kind enough to allow us FREE office space in this 3 floor, new office of his on Europe Blvd here in Novi Sad! We will just have to pay the electric, trash, etc. It will be the headquarters for our association.

We have some big plans for the organization that might include:

** Organized trips to many interesting locations in Serbia. My Gmail, Facebook and Youtube message boxes are always full of questions from foreigners who are interested in Serbia. The majority of them know about Belgrade, but know little else. This country has soooo much more to offer than just Belgrade.  We are going to be seeking advice from locals in many different places in Serbia and organizing trips to many of them. It will help expose Serbia to the large quantity of tourists who come here with money, but don’t know what to spend it on. My large following and contacts can help draw interest and tourism to many struggling communities. A few months before Exit Festival, I get a ton of messages about Serbia. This massive group of foreign visitors are looking for things to do, but can’t seem to find the info they need. This will be a way to funnel them to other parts of Serbia.
** Free conversational English courses for the underprivileged Serbs and minority groups who don’t have money for regular English courses in a private school

** Foreigner meet and greet sessions. I have a ton of friends from many different countries who live, study and visit this city. Many Serbs are interested in meeting others and learning a bit about their culture.

** Fundraisers for some of the sick Serbian kids that are in need of money for different medical conditions. This is a constant issue over here in Serbia. My Facebook is always packed with messages from Serbians who want me to post about sick kids here in Serbia. Many Westerners are interested in helping, but are unaware of their struggles and how to help.

** Helping villagers market some of their homemade products. I’ve been living over here for around four years now and have experienced many, many locations in Serbia. Many of the villages and towns that I have been to are filled with local folks who make wonderful crafts and other items that need some exposure. I’ve asked many of the folks how they market their products to folks outside of Serbia and they usually say “We don’t.” It would be a great way to assist the little man in Serbia by having a place for them to market their products to the massive diaspora and others.

And more…..

I need all of you Serbians to help me out now. Please take a minute to fill out this questionnaire. I’m seeking advice on what to see, eat, where to sleep, etc in your communities. I know there are a lot of “hidden gems” in this country, but you guys know your communities better than anyone. Please take a moment to fill out this brief questionnaire. It won’t take long, but your answers will be vital to my project.

Thanks so much for your time and stay tuned for info. We will have a beautiful website with tons of links and info to help spread the word about this awesome, unique little country.

Ready to start the questionnaire? Click here!

If you are a Serb from the diaspora or a foreigner who’s interested and have the means in assisting with  some needed cash for our project, please feel free to donate to my Paypal.  You will be listed on our website as a “friend of Serbia” for your assistance. We don’t need a lot, but furniture, website design and creation, legal fees, etc will take a big bite out of my miniscule Serbian salary. Feel free to message me for more info or throw some cash to my Paypal account at charlesserbia@gmail.com 

Volim vas!

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2015 in Through my eyes

 

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16 Year Old Serb Talking About Uprooting to Indonesia Because of NATO Attacks


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It’s very interesting yet horrible to hear of the struggle so many Serbians went through during the NATO attacks on their country in 1999. I was fortunate enough to discuss the story of one young Serb student whose family was forced to flee the bombing attacks of 1999. Igor Mijovic was kind enough to share some of his experiences in Indonesia.

“I was born in Belgrade in 1999 just 14 days before the start of the NATO bombing. I lived relatively a peaceful and fun childhood, I was never bothered with my family’s money issues, we didn’t have much but I was happy with the way things were, of course I was unaware of the real state of things with my dad’s job and how it was all falling to pieces. When my parents announced we were moving to Indonesia it hit me like a dagger to the heart. I was leaving all of my friends and family behind, going not only to another country, but to another continent I knew nothing or very little about. For me the worst part was that I would be unable to communicate with other people since I thought my English was way below the level of those kids that went to an international school. At first my months at my new school were awful, everything was so different from what I was used to, and everyone whispered about that tall Serbian guy who came from an unknown land, they could not bully me because I was too big for them, I was just ignored and I kept telling myself that this whole nightmare will be over soon, that I don’t need these new people in my life and that I will be back in my beloved country once again. It all changed though when I met a Canadian guy who spent an evening with me and that’s when it all started for the better. I met people from loads of different countries, shared stories and began to change mentally and emotionally. I realized not everything was as I thought, at this time I found Charles Cather’s first video on youtube and it really helped me fight my nostalgia, I’ve watched every one since. After 4 years I made tons of friends from all kinds of backgrounds, but it was not to last, since I was to move to my country once again. It was my choice, since I was old enough to be semi-responsible, but getting something means leaving something else behind. I had to leave all those dear friends I made and return to those I haven’t seen for years. Honestly living in an international community helped to change me for the better and I decided I won’t hate on anyone before I have a good talk with them and get to know their story. I’m planning on studying history and maybe becoming and international teacher to travel around. ”

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Charles:  What were your first impressions of Indonesia?

Igor:  I expected it to be like those Chinese cities you see in movies, lots of tall buildings with flashing signs in unknown letters. I was surprised at what I saw though, the air was humid and hard to breathe, there is a huge difference between lower and high class, with no middle class. There was very little bread and red meat and the way people acted was very strange, I’ve never experienced that much respect and awe of white people in my life.

Charles:  What did you miss the most about Serbia?

Igor: Well for the first year or so it was my friends and my relatives I missed the most until I actually started making international friends. Food was also a pain to get used to. It’s not the usual asian food we eat in the west, lots of rice, many spices we haven’t even heard of, fruits that taste very strange compared to kajsija and shljiva :D. But most of all it was the freedom, I couldn’t walk around and go exploring, I couldn’t hug or kiss my friends in public. It was mostly the staying at home all the time that tortured me the most.

 

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Charles: Where the locals respectful of your faith since it’s a Muslim country?

Igor: Indonesians are a very religious people, no matter what religion they are, they dismiss facts and other pleasures of life in order to be that much closer to their god. I myself am an atheist, I did enjoy celebrating my country’s many traditions and festivities, but that stuff was hard to come by. I did get looks of curiosity but sometimes even disgust and hate for not being a religious person, mostly from radical muslims and christians. My first year at school had mandatory religion and they had Protestant, Catholic, Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim, and I couldn’t find a place there, so I went with the protestants (one of my worst decisions since all we learnt about is how only they are right and true and everyone else is false).

Charles: Any similarities between the cultures?

Igor: The cultures are very different. The only things I found similar is the fact that they were under colonial rule for most of the time we were under Ottoman occupation.

 

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Charles: What were the biggest differences in culture that you had a hard time adjusting to?

Igor: Indonesians have everything the opposite of Serbia, they are very radical religious, have more than 300 ethnic groups within the country, some even warring with each other. They don’t like to show emotions, believe in ghosts and spirits too much and due to the lack of education (with every school having to be paid for, and millions in poverty having no money for it) lack basic knowledge and intelligence. It also takes much longer to reach to them and get close to them as friends, than it would with a western person. In the end they proved to be just as good and fun as my Serbian friends.

Charles: Had most people heard of Serbia? If so, what were their impressions?

Igor: Most Indonesians didn’t know what I was talking about when I said Serbia, but when I said Yugoslavia they usually nodded their heads and said things like “Long live Tito, Indonesia’s friend!”, I didn’t really feel like explaining to them that he’s dead and that everything changed. People in my school never showed much interest in my country, most thought its a warzone still, laughed at my opanci and asked me to say random things in Serbian. I tried my best to show Serbia in a good light, and how civilised it is compared to Indonesia, for me that was a must when it came to discussing my country.

This is one story of thousands of Serbs who were displaced throughout the 90’s. 5366_10200496493149514_460826202_n

 
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Posted by on June 30, 2015 in Through my eyes

 

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Help a Serbian University Student Experience the U.S.A.


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If you are like most folks throughout the United States, you probably know little about the J-1  Visa Summer Work and Travel Program.

Are you lazy? Would you rather listen to me talk about the work and travel program? Click here 🙂
This program was created in the 1960s by the Kennedy administration as a way of improving America’s image around the globe. It also plays a very beneficial role for the American business owner and the student. The businesses owners, customers, and employees get to learn about foreign nations, cultures, and befriend folks from different backgrounds. It makes the world a much smaller and more enjoyable place. The foreign students are allowed to work during their university’s summer break at seasonal jobs throughout the United States of America. They learn how American businesses operate and gain some valuable experience which can improve their employment future back in their own country. Once their work contract is finished, they get 30 days of tourism before returning to their country. This program supplies some employers with enough summer staff to fill their summer rush. It may seem like it takes jobs away from Americans, but many of these locations don’t have enough American workers to fill the open positions. There are many resorts in the middle of Denali National Park, Yellowstone, mountain towns in Colorado and the islands off the coast of Massachusetts that are unable to find locals to work in their resorts. This program is helping small business owners stay in business while bringing in foreign students who are renting apartments and buying local products from the community.

Serbia is one of the bigger players in this program. There were around 2,700 Serbian university students who were approved on this program last year. This year the enrollment was almost doubled! We, Work and Travel Group,  are sending around 750 students to the USA for the summer of 2015.

Do you know any business owners who might be interested in bringing in a Serbian university student for the summer of 2016? Serbian students are allowed to work 4 months between May 21- Oct 1st. My agency has contacts with many successful and large companies throughout the USA. mat4

The employer must provide a copy of their current business license along with a copy of their workman’s compensation insurance policy. The majority of our students are working in bars, restaurants, hotels, fast food restaurants, retail stores, and many other hospitality-type businesses throughout the USA.

The location and job must be vetted by the U.S. State Department to make sure it aligns with the program guidelines, but many states are covered. We sent our first group of Serbian students to St. Louis, Missouri this year. My old school friend, Bill Croy, is the GM for a few McDonalds on the western part of St. Louis. He decided to bring in 5 Serbian students and they are loving it so far. They are able to work with Hispanics, African Americans, and many other minority groups that they may have never encountered if not for this program.

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They were also able to experience their first Walmart. 🙂 One of the students was dying to try “Hersey’s” for the first time.

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This program can also be a great thing for local homeowners. The students have a budget of between $75- $100 a week to spend on accommodation. This can be a big boost to a struggling American household where every dollar counts during the hot summer months. One homeowner took in 7 students and is able to use the almost $12,000 each summer to take his family on a big vacation each fall.

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The children in the house also love meeting these “funny sounding” foreigners. One American family from North Dakota randomly ran into a Serbian student who was asking if he could play soccer with their little son. They all quickly formed a life-long bond and they are now considered family. The American family even flew over to Serbia to surprise him and his friends on Thanksgiving.

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It has even formed friendships between students from unlikely places. One Serbian student started working at a restaurant on Martha’s Vineyard. He learned that two of his coworkers in the kitchen were Albanians from Kosovo. It made him very uncomfortable at first, but they soon were hanging out together after work and on weekends. This program can really change the world.

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Want to meet up with a Serbian student who is in the USA this summer? Download our app to find out where the Serbian students are and send them a message.!

If you or anyone you know, might be interested in taking in a Serbian student or two for the summer of 2016…… contact me ANYTIME!
charles.cather@workandtravelgroup.com

 
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Posted by on June 17, 2015 in Through my eyes

 

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