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Questionnaire for Serbians Living in Serbia


serb food

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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Serbia… Land of Billionaires


Yugoslavian money

Yugoslavian money

It isn’t everyday you can move to a country and be surrounded by former billionaires. Serbia is one country that can boast that fact. Almost everyone that lived in Serbia during the 1990’s can brag about not just being a billionaire, but a MUTLI-BILLIONAIRE!

The U.S.A and other world powers love to put sanctions on “unfriendly” countries. It is usually the first step in punishing a nation for not abiding by their rules. This is a disgusting act that leads to mass starvation, shortage of life saving equipment, supplies, fuel, and it seems to punish ONLY the regular civilians. It also leads regular hard-working people into committing criminal acts just to feed their families!

During the 1990’s, Serbia was the heart of Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia was made up of Serbia, Montenegro, Slovenia, Macedonia, Croatia and Bosnia. Slovenia was the first one to declare its independence. The world was reacting to the fall of the “Iron Curtain” and the break up of the U.S.S.R.  There were some very brutal wars fought in this part of the planet to preserve the Yugoslavian lands.

Yugoslavia2map

N.A.T.O decided it would be best to slap on sanctions. For those of you not familiar with the term “sanctions” , as a noun, it means a threatened penalty for disobeying a law or rule. It keeps other nations from trading with them and keeps them from providing any financial assistance to them and keeping the “sanctioned” country from gaining access to its international funds. The majority of countries are drastically harmed by this act, Serbia included. Many of the families I have had the pleasure of talking with survived by smuggling gas, cigarettes, clothing, food, etc from their neighboring countries. This also lead to something called hyperinflation. Hyperinflation is extremely rapid or out of control inflation. There is no precise numerical definition to hyperinflation. Hyperinflation is a situation where the price increases are so out of control that the concept of inflation is meaningless.

worthless money

worthless money

Many of the Serbian families worked very hard during this time in their history. Once they received their monthly pay they would rush to the store to use their paycheck before prices would skyrocket. I was told that many families would work all month and only be able to buy a few loaves of bread! 😮 Can you imagine???  If you ask many of them how in the world they were able to raise their kids, they will just shrug their shoulders. Many of them would share and trade what little they had and help their neighbor. Maybe you were good at fixing cars and your neighbor had a lot of tomatoes. You would fix their car for a bag of tomatoes. I think this is what has made Serbians the tough, unflappable people they are today.

Hungarian bill.. Largest ever recorded

Hungarian bill.. Largest ever recorded

The highest record of inflation was in Hungary held the record for the most extreme monthly inflation rate ever — 41,900,000,000,000,000% (4.19 × 1016% or 41.9 quadrillion percent) for July 1946 amounting to prices doubling every 15.3 hours.Yugoslavia ranks 2nd on the all time list with prices doubling every 1.4 days  See the chart below.

Highest hyperinflation

Highest hyperinflation

This  lead to bills in the billion dinar range! 😮 It looks and sounds good to have a billion dollar note, but when it won’t buy a loaf of bread it looses all of its glory!

500 Billion Dinars

500 Billion Dinars

It sounds like I am surrounded by a country full of Warren Buffets, but life was hard. I can sit here and imagine the stress that was put on all of these Serbian families during this time. They survived and continue to survive to this day!

Gotta love the Serbs...

Gotta love the Serbs…

Long live Serbia….

Please join our new Serbia page… SAY SERBIA! http://www.sayserbia.com/ and if you are capable of donating a few dollars, dinars, euro, pesos or whatever  to my documentary “Yankee Doodle Went to Serbia” please do!!!! Every little bit helps! Here is my donations page https://www.wepay.com/donations/serbia-through-american-eyes

Version2

The first episode of Yankee Doodle went to Serbia “RUMA”is going to be out in a week or two! Here is an update from Srem Tv……http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vksV7jyP9VY I need your help!!! I have lived on my savings for 3 years now. This first episode wasn’t cheap!!!! We had a very professional crew with us. One professional cameraman, sound guy, two lighting guys, one producer and one assistant producer. We had top of the line equipment and stayed 5 days in Ruma! We wanted to go all out on our first episode. If we can’t find more funding to make it this way, I will just strap a camera on my head and head out on my own. 🙂 😀 😦 I never ask Serbians in Serbia for a dinar, but anyone else that has a Visa, Mastercard, American Express credit or debit can donate. I have only had 15 people donate to this. 😥 If you can’t donate, please share to your friends that can! HELP ME SHOW THE WORLD WHY I FELL IN LOVE WITH SERBIA!   Hvala puno!!!!

 

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2013 in Through my eyes

 

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Serbia’s Pride…. Patriarch Pavle


Patriarch Pavle

Patriarch Pavle

I am not a religious guy. It is one subject that always seems to divide people and has caused numerous wars. My family is made up of many different religions. We have Jehovah’s Witnesses, Baptists, Methodists, Pentecostals, Catholics, Agnostics, and Atheists. I have lived and worked with Jews, Muslims, and every other type of religion you can imagine. The thing I always notice about religious people is how they tend to judge others and claim to have superiority. I am a believer in helping my neighbor, bringing people together, treating people with mutual respect, and not dividing people into little groups. If this will cause me to burn in the fiery depths of hell for eternity, so be it.

St Sava in Belgrade, Serbia

St Sava in Belgrade, Serbia

Serbia is a country that is dominated by the Orthodox faith. It is one of the most interesting things for me. Chicago is the 2nd largest Serbian city on the planet and we have a few Orthodox Churches, but I never paid that much attention to them until coming to Serbia. When I shut my eyes and think of Serbia I get visions of the ancient Orthodox churches that litter every corner of this country. Many of them are over 500 years old!!! They have that unique shape and style that you don’t see everyday. The Orthodox faith is the majority religion in many Eastern European countries including : Bulgaria, Russia, Greece, Belarus, Macedonia, Montenegro,Moldova, Romania and Ukraine.

Those of us from the USA know little about the Orthodox faith. The Catholic and Orthodox churches started their division in the year 1053. It was known as ” The Great Schism”. I am not a religious scholar and will not pretend to be. There are some significant differences between the two religions. You can find some of the differences here    http://www.ocf.org/OrthodoxPage/reading/ortho_cath.html Some of the most obvious differences are :

**the location of the “Holy City”. In the Eastern Orthodox religion it is Constantinople, Turkey and in the Roman Catholic it is Rome.
**the leader of the religion. In the Eastern Orthodox faith it is a Patriarch and in the Catholic faith it is the Pope.

** the way the make the sign of the cross. Roman Catholics tend to go left to right while Eastern Orthodox go right to left.

**the look of the church and the steeples. see pics below…

Catholic steeple

Catholic steeple

Orthodox steeple

Orthodox steeple

His Holiness Patriarch Pavle was born as Gojko Stojcevic in a small village in present day Croatia. He lost both of his parents at a young age and was raised by his aunt. He studied in Belgrade and was majoring in Theology and Medicine. He graduated from University of Belgrade in 1942. He worked as a construction worker after WWII and then took his monastic vows in Ovcar. That is when he received the monastic name Pavle. He later took post-graduate studies in Athens, Greece when he returned in 1957 he was elected as Bishop of Ras and Prizren. He held that position for 33 years before becoming Patriarch in 1990. He held that position until his death on November 15th, 2009.

Riding the bus in Belgrade

Riding the bus in Belgrade

His Holiness is known for his humility. My favorite quote of his was when he was asked why he always walked or took public transport. He replied “I will not purchase one until every Albanian and Serbian household in Kosovo and Metohija has an automobile.”

Here are a few great stories that show how humble of a man he was ……….

serb-patriarch-pavel

******Mercedes Story******

Patriarch Pavle, as he was known, continued to live a simple life even after he moved to the new residence – the Patriarchal Palace – in Belgrade. People form Belgrade often encountered him on the streets, riding the train or the bus … Once, while walking alone the hilly street of King Peter the I, towards the Patriarchate, a Mercedes – last model barely passed him, the driver – a priest from one of the well-known parish in Belgrade, stopped the car and said:
– Your Holiness, permit me to invite  you in! Just tell me where you heading …The Patriarch entered the car, and as  soon as it  started moving, asked:
– Tell me, Father, whose  car is this?
– It’s mine, your Holiness!
– Stop it! – the Patriarch replied, he then got off, made the sign of the Cross and said to the priest:
-May the Lord, watch over you!

*****The Black Automobile Story*****

The great session of the Holy Synod of the Serbian Orthodox Church had just ended. As it was the customary, his Holiness was heading to the vespers service at the Cathedral. When he exited the Patriarchal Palace, he saw many black limousines parked near and asked:
– So many luxury cars, who do you think they belong to?
– To our bishops, Your Holiness! They came with them to the Synod meeting-replied the priest who accompanied him. 

 Oh, God watch over them, what would they’ve traveled with, if they weren’t taken the monastic vows of  poverty?!

******The Travel Story******

In the Patriarchate building, it is often heard the story of the Patriarch dialogue with the deacon accompanying him everywhere; as they were ready to go to the church in Banovo Brdo, the deacon asked:
– So, how are we traveling? By car?
– By bus! – the Patriarch replied with determination.
– It’s crowded, it’s stuffy in the bus, and the church is not close …
– We’re going (by bus)! –
 His Holiness replied shortly.
– But … – the Deacon, following him, advance a new argument, — Your Holiness, it is summer, many people go to Ada Ciganlija [a famous pool] and buses are full of barely naked people. It is not appropriate...
– You know, Father – the Patriarch replied back – one can  see what he desires to see!

******Message to American Envoy*****

When bishop Pavle became Patriarch, (the director of BOS Museum recalls), many delegations and many foreign representatives have expressed their desire to meet him. The active American ambassador at that time in Belgrade, Warren Zimmermann, also came. The Patriarch received him in the Patriarchal Palace. The ambassador conveyed greetings and congratulations on behalf of the American people, himself and the President. At the end of the formal protocol, the ambassador had asked:
– How may we help you?
– Your Excellency, don’t intervene by setting obstacles, that is how you can help.
 (…)

*****Raising Salaries*****

 

Patriarch Pavle refused, in fact, to get paid. He only received a small pension he was entitled to as a formal bishop of Raska and Prizren. All his needs were modest, given that he sewed his mantle and repaired his shoes ... Yet, he still had some money left of that pension. What was left of it, he divided among poor or donated it to other purposes of civic good.

It remained memorable his reaction as a bishop in 1962, when a request from bishops was made to increase their salaries:

– “But why, since we are not able to spend what we already have?”.

He did, likewise with what he received as gifts. If he received mantle material, he keep it until he met a monk or a priest not been able to afford it. Then he would calculate how much they would need to sew a cassock (mantle) and give them exactly that, so he may share the rest with others.
Renowned historian Zika Stojkovich, who has worked with the bishop Pavle during his assignment in Raska and Prizren, when editing his work”Monuments of Kosovo”, complained once to the Patriarch of the difficulty of raising money to continue the print of the work-series he had started and belonging to one of the most prominent Serbian writers, Milos Crnjanski. After been listening to him, the Patriarch rose, went to his bed, raised the pillow, picked his wallet, took out three thousand marks and handed to Stojkovich:
– “Here, it’s my contribution for the printing of Crnjanski Milos’ books. May it be for your assistance. ”

funeral

funeral

Regardless of your religous philosophy, you can see why he was loved by the Serbian people. It is a shame that more religious leaders didn’t learn to lead by his example. May His Holiness Patriarch Pavle rest in peace for eternity!

 If you haven’t done so…. please join us at Say Serbia. It is a website a few friends and I created to show the world the REAL Serbia. http://www.sayserbia.com/

 
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Posted by on June 12, 2013 in Through my eyes

 

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Why Visit Sremska Mitrovica, Serbia?


 

Prior to meeting a few Facebook buddies from Sremska Mitrovica, I had never heard of it.

mitrovica

I arrived in Sremska Mitrovica 2 weeks ago. I met a great guy on Youtube named Milos. He was a former Serbian soldier and self proclaimed Serbian Nationalist. He invited me to stay in his little backyard house. I think it is so cool that Serbian homes have those. 🙂 I arrive on the bus from Belgrade at around 2PM. The bus station is a long way from the center of town. He was going to meet me at the station , but when I arrived he was nowhere to be found. I take my two bags and start looking for a little cafe to sit down at. I get a few blocks away and he calls me. He tells me to stay where I am. He arrives a few minutes later and we head to his house. He lives only a few blocks from the station. He lives there with his father, mother and brother. They are a very welcoming bunch. The father was wounded by NATO bombs in the Kosovo conflict of 99 and showed me the piece of shrapnel that had been pulled from his side. They sure love their cigs and coffee!!!! 🙂 I have never seen a breed of people that can drink coffee at all hours of the day! They are drinking a cup of coffee at 12 and 1 AM!!! o.O

Milos is a guy that seems to know everything about S.M or so he says! 😉  We spend the next few days investigating the ins and outs of the city.

Sremska Mitrovica is a city located about an hours bus ride from Belgrade and Novi Sad. It has been built over the famous Roman city of Sirmium. It was the 2nd most important Roman city after Rome. Three Roman Emperors were born in the surrounding area. It was a key trading outpost and had over 120,000 inhabitants.

During WWII….

The city has a large park called Memorial Park. It is dedicated to those that were slaughtered during WWII. The Sremska Mitrovica municipality is said to have had the largest loss of casualties of any location in Serbia. The number is said to be around 20,000! Memorial Park is the spot where around 8,000 Serbians and other minorities were forced to dig their own graves before being shot or buried alive! 😦 Check out my video of my time in Memorial Park…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A5DTf2KCMGk. After WWII, Sremska Mitrovica was the location of the first post WWII building. The train station was built in 1945 and displays many pictures in its massive lobby.

Today..

Today, It has a population of around 80,000 people. It is located in the autonomous region of Vojvodina. Vojvodina is broken into three regions or states. Srem, which is the region that S.M is in, Backa and Banat. Srem is well known for two things- pork and wine. There are two rivers that run through this area- The Sava and The Danube. The pork section lies from the Sava to the Fruska Gora state park. The wine belt is located from Fruska Gora to the Danube.

Fruska Gora National Park…..

rows of grapes in Fruska Gora

rows of grapes in Fruska Gora

Fruska Gora is a place that really stands out in Vojvodinja. The surrounding land in Vojvodina is very fertile , but very flat. Fruska Gora jumps out of the middle of the flatness with lots of hills, trees, nature, wine fields, and monasteries. There are around 20 monasteries that litter the surrounding hills and forests. Fruska Gora is well known for its fine wine production. They say that the Titanic served many bottles of fine Fruska Gora wine!

Serbians from the surrounding areas flock to Fruska Gora on May 1st. It is their celebration of Labor Day. They will camp, cook out, drink lots of great drinks, and just enjoy the beautiful nature that the park has to offer!

The area was also very important in WW2. The Partizans used the heavily forested location to form many of their of military squads. Three of the most famous squads are now campgrounds in Fruska Gora , they are :

1- Rohalj Baze
2- Letenka
3- Mosin Grob

Famous inhabitants…..

The city is also the home to many famous people, past and present. Here are a few of them:

  • NIkola Tesla’s sister- Nikola Tesla had three sisters. One of them is buried in the old Orthodox cemetery . I have yet to find the grave. I will update soon!
  • Al Capone’s personal driver- This is one that I am still researching! I have been told by several residents that the driver is buried in the cemetery , but trying to get his name and a pic of his grave. Will have soon!
  • Mr Matic- Serbian Foreign Minster under Sloban Milosevic
  • Current Chelsea Soccer player- Brainslav Ivanovic

    Current Chelsea player

    Current Chelsea player

  • Current European Bodybuilding Champion- Nebojsa
    Spanovic

    European Bodybuilding Champ

    European Bodybuilding Champ

  • Former Minster of Youth and Sport under Slobadan Milosevic and former Mr Olympia and father of Nebojsa Spanovic, Milan Spanovic
  • One of the most famous Masons on Earth and painter-Dragan Martinovic
    images (6)
  • Current Kayak World Champion- Ognjen Filipovic

    Kayak World Champion

    Kayak World Champion

  • Finalist on Serbian Survivor and well known Serbian comedian- Srdjan Dincic

    Comedian and former finalist on Serbian Survivor

    Comedian and former finalist on Serbian Survivor

  • Famous Olympian discus thrower- Dragana Tomasevic

Famous discus thrower

Birthplace of American Football in Serbia…..

It also is home to the first American football team in Serbia, the Sirmium Legionaries. They were formed by a small group of guys that loved the sport, but had no financial support. They were formed in 2002 and have been a big force in Serbian American Football! I had the honor of meeting a few of the players after their game last Sunday!

the guy on the left is an up and coming receiver that has some great hands! The guy on the right is a former European Football Stud! He is the reason the Legionairs stay at the top of their game!

the guy on the left is an up and coming receiver that has some great hands! The guy on the right is a former European Football Stud! He is the reason the Legionaries stay at the top of their game!

Quarterback of the team, Taylor Budd. He is an American from New Jersey and a hell of a nice guy!

Quarterback of the team, Taylor Budd. He is an American from New Jersey and a hell of a nice guy!

Sremska Mitrovica has a lot to offer!!! It is great for a day trip or a week long excursion!! Come check it out! I also might be running a little bar over here in the near future! 🙂 Mention this post and you drink cheaper. 🙂

 
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Posted by on April 13, 2013 in Through my eyes

 

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Bumping into Serbian Olympic Hero, Milorad Cavic!!!


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I received a message from a young lady in Kragujevac, Serbia in late December of last year. She was a member of the student organization, AIESEC. They were holding their annual Youth Leadership Conference and they wanted me to speak to the kids about my time in Serbia.

I headed to Kragujevac, Serbia on a Wednesday afternoon. I had just finished filming a 5 day series in Ruma for the premier of my web series YANKEE DOODLE WENT TO SERBIA! And I was totally exhausted. You guys are going to love this series! I hope we can find some tv stations to work with us. I might need all of your help in spreading the word.

I arrive at the bus station in Kragujevac at 5PM. I never book a hotel in advance. The organization said they would find me a sponsor to host me in their home, but I wanted a private place. I hit up the first hotel that I find. They tell me that I might have trouble finding any vacancies because of some event at the big Fiat factory. The guy tells me to try Hotel Kragujevac. It is the largest building in town and they have many vacancies. I drag all of my stuff to the room and collapse on the bed for a few minutes. The room is tiny!!! I have very little room to move around, but I didn’t think it was bad for 4000 dinars. It had a mini bar, restaurant, room service and free wifi. I finally drag my lazy ass out of bed and head out to explore the former capital city of Serbia.

The hotel is right in the center of the walking district. It is a beautiful area. There are many shops, restaurants, a taxi stand, and within walking distance of many historic things. One of the first things on my agenda is food!! I walk into a place called “RAKIJA BAR”. I decide to have a shot of dunja rakija and a pivo and find out from the waiter where the best place to eat is. He recommends the place across the street. It is the lobby restaurant of the hotel. It has a great Italian menu. I order a Karadjordeva Snicla and some garlic bread. It was amazing!!! It cost 1200 dinars , but was worth every cent.. 🙂

I head mall in Kragujevac. It is a very nice and modern mall. It rivals any of the ones I have been to around Europe. I really needed an electric converter for my laptop. I left my other one in Ruma. I find a computer store and they don’t have what i am looking for , but they give me this thing that might work. I take it back to my hotel and find out it doesn’t work. I am desperate now! I stop a few people in the street and ask about it. They tell me about a little shop called CAR. It is hard to locate and I see a little pizza place. I decide to pop in and see if anyone can help me.

The lady is a beautiful young woman around 20 years old. I ask her if she speaks English. She says that she does and I ask her about the electric shop. There are a few tables full of guys in there and one of them overhears me. He gets up and walks over to me. He is about 6’5 and very muscular. He says ” Are you the American that has been helping Serbian kids?” I tell him that I am. He says ” I respect that . Thank you!” I was a bit surprised at his English ability. I just told him “nema na cemu”. I start talking to the girl again and she said  ” Do you know who that is?” I said ” no, I have no idea.” She said “That is Milorad Cavic, the silver medal Olympian!” OMG!! I about fell over! He heard about me? How awesome is that!? I walk back over and apologize to him. He is sitting with 4 guys that play for the Kragujevac Wild Boars, the American football team. He smiles and said he had watched a few of my videos and appreciated the contribution to Serbian kids. He gives me his card and asks me to go to meet with him the next day. I shake his hand and am on my way. WOW!!! That really gives you a great feeling when a guy that has that much star power has heard of you. I find out where that little electrical shop is located and head over there. I get the piece I need and head back to my hotel room. I could barely fall asleep thinking about the following  day. What do you say? How do you dress? etc….

I get up a little early in the morning and head to the mall. I have to return that little computer thing that didn’t work. They give me ZERO slack and were very friendly. I run back to the room to get ready for the speech at the University of Kragujevac. I get in a cab and head over there. The president of the organization meets me at the entrance and says that the Dean of Economics wants to speak with me. We head to her office and it is beautiful! It is all decked out in decorative wood and a large table. She is very kind and welcoming. She hears my entire story and starts telling me her position and all of her great ideas. I know the school is very lucky to have a woman like her! We finish our conversation and head to the room where I am going to be speaking. There are a large number of kids in the class. They are all very attentive, fun, friendly, and passionate about their duties. I speak for a little over an hour about how great my experiences were in Serbia and how proud they should be for being born a Serb. The kids all thank me at the end of the speech. I head back to my hotel to prepare for my meeting with Mr Cavic. He emailed me that morning and asked me to meet him at his pool office.

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The weather was rather crappy, but the kids left me one of their umbrellas! Gotta love Serbian students! I get to the pool and ask for Mr Cavic. They lead me up to his office and usher me inside. He is sitting there with his secretary talking about some things. He gets up with a big smile on his face and thanks for coming. What a great man! I expected him to be very formal and professional, but he was just like me. He had on his shorts and a t-shirt. He takes me out to a little table overlooking the pool. He says he will be right back and to order whatever I want to drink. I choose a coffee. 😛 He returns a few minutes later and starts telling me all about his life. He is one of the most passionate and focused people I have ever encountered. He told me lots of his secrets at staying focused and motivated. He said he still hangs little post it notes all over his house. He said above his bedroom door he has a note that says SMILE! He said that it seems cheesy , but it works. He also told me that he is the only professional swimmer that has had lower back surgery and came back to be so successful. He said it is because he still goes to the pool everyday with a smile and knowing that he loves what he does. He said you should always love what you do!!!! Great advice. He then gets to business. He tells me that he loves how I found this equipment for American football. He said they are constantly looking for this kind of thing in Serbia and that no one has money for this stuff. I tell him about my meeting in the Serbian Palace with the Minister of Youth and Sport, Nenad Borovcanin. Mr Borovcanin wanted me to open a non profit for sports equipment for Serbian kids. He said he could get the Serbian government to partner with me! He thought it was a great idea. He knew that I was having issues with some schools because of liability stuff. It is illegal for a team to resale used equipment because of liability. He said that he had already told his lawyer to draw up a form for me. WOW!!!! This man is on his game!!!! We sit and chit chat for almost 1.5 hours. He finally says that he has to go. He tells me to keep his number and email in case I need anything in the future. 🙂 I head out of the pool with a smile from ear to ear. I just had a long conversation with a silver medal winning swimmer that is known throughout the planet. 🙂 🙂

I can’t stress how much fun and how honored I am at how the Serbian people have treated me! It was all caused by making a short 1 minute video on Youtube. 🙂

 
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Posted by on April 8, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Sports Equipment Donations to Arrive in October


The day has finally arrived. The 800 lbs of baseball, softball, and soccer equipment that we gathered in Greenup, IL is officially gone! It is currently being loaded onto a semi trailer that is bound for a Maryland shipping yard. It will then be placed onto a barge where it will sail to Montenegro and then be trucked to Belgrade in middle October. This result couldn’t have taken place without the kindness and generosity of regular citizens. I listed EVERYONE that played a part in this remarkable feat at the bottom of the page. THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART!  Watch the video I made about all the equipment…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YCyeu6c-4tQ

This idea popped into my head after watching my buddies from Gradnulica Beckerek play a baseball game. I was stunned when they had to go over and ask the opposing team to borrow a baseball bat!! Also… only a couple of the kids had baseball cleats!!! I thought of all the baseball gear that I had owned as a child. Most of it I used once or twice and disregarded. The average American household is not filled with endless streams of money like many people around the world like to think. We struggle with house payments, car payments, property taxes, high food prices, etc……. BUT, One thing I have noticed after living in Mexico and Serbia is we do have more LUXURY items than most other countries. I can remember having around 6 pairs of baseball cleats, 5 or 6 baseball gloves, ENDLESS amounts of baseballs, every new video game console that came out onto the market , etc. Many of these items I used a few times and stuffed them into the closet. This is not the case in many countries around the world. I found it interesting that in Serbia it is not considered rude to talk about your income. I was invited to many of my friends homes and got to meet their parents. They would tell me their monthly income and I would try to keep my jaw from dropping in dismay. How ANYONE could support a family with shelter, food, clothing, etc on $400 a month is beyond me!!! I heard this same story from numerous people throughout Serbia. That old saying about “not appreciating what you have” is so true! After seeing the kids ask the other team for a baseball bat… i wanted to ask ” Why the hell don’t you buy your own!” Then you think back to the $400 a month family income!!! A baseball bat is the LAST THING this family needs to be purchasing. The idea hit me!! I would contact my local newspapers in Toledo, Greenup and Charleston, IL.

My TINY hometown that a HUGE heart!!

September of 2011 the Toledo Democrat, Greenup Press and Charleston Times Courier published my story about Serbia and my desire to help bring unused sports equipment to the kids. The second it hit the papers my Facebook and email were flooded with requests from people who wanted to assist in gathering it, storing it, moving it, etc. I was blown away! Businesses, family members, friends, community members and total strangers were offering their help. My mom emailed me and said ” Where the hell are we going to put all this stuff! ” hahahaha… I should have informed them first. They are in the midst of building a new home and fighting some medical issues. They didn’t need the added stress of dealing with this big project. It is really hard to start something like this in your hometown community while you are on the other side of the ocean in Serbia! hahaaha..It stressed me out to no end. I would get updates from my mother on how many things were there. I would look up shipping prices on the internet and would shudder when I saw the prices!!! I thought to myself…. “THERE IS NO POSSIBLE WAY WE CAN GET THIS OVER THERE!” I was depressed and thinking what I would tell the kids, the community that gathered it , etc.. 😦 A couple great people donated some funds to help store it, move it, and help pay for the shipping BUT we were looking at THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS! The US embassy in Belgrade contacted me offering assistance with shipment if I could get it to the Ohio military base. They just needed weights, dimensions, etc. The problem was so much of it had not been delivered so i had no idea how many packages or what the weights were. I finally decided to go back the USA on May 29th of this year. I wanted to see how my mother was doing and help with the construction of their new home. I made manyyyyyyy phone calls, sent many emails, etc while at home to try to make something happen. I posted the email addresses for the guys at the US and Serbian embassies on my Facebook page with a message to all my friends to email them and ask for assistance. It wasn’t long before both embassies had contacted me asking me to please have the emails stop!! ahahahah… The gentleman at the Serbian Consulate was the BEST!!! He said that he found a Serbian/American businessman that loved my devotion to the kids of Serbia and said he would pay for all of the shipping! I just needed to get it to Chicago!! WOW!!!!!!!!!!!! This was exactly what I wanted to hear!!!! I packaged it all up and contacted my Chicago Serb buddy, Danijel Vukosavljevic.

My buddy, Danijel Vukosavljevic showing his Serbian flag after picking up all the donations. HVALA BRATE!!! Volim te!!!

He owns a trucking company in Chicago called P&D transport.inc  He was more than happy to drive the 3.5 hours down to my parents and pick up the equipment and drop it off at the storage facility! WHEW!!!! My blood pressure dropped a few points! 🙂 The best part about this….. the Serbian/American businessman is willing to continue paying the shipping for any donated items to his home country. I want to do more!!! This doesn’t have to end. I had some Serbian kids contact me about tennis equipment and rowing equipment too. OH!!!!! We will have one more shipment late this year or next year. My WONDERFUL cousin and her husband wrote me asking if I would be in need of 60 sets of American football pads and 50-60 football helmets! I told them that we would love to have them. The Serbian consulate asked me to assist them in locating more of it because they do not have the funds for this type of equipment and many teams are in need! I posted something about this equipment on my Facebook page and had 7 teams contact me asking for the equipment! THERE IS A LOT OF NEED!

I am very interested in starting a non-profit organization that would solicit used sports equipment for Serbia. Baseball, soccer, basketball, rowing, tennis, water polo, etc… maybe even help build sports facilities in some of the smaller towns. If anyone has any information about starting a non-profit in the state of Illinois let me know! This would let larger businesses and more people donate because they could write it off their taxes. 🙂 DON’T TELL ME I CAN’T DO SOMETHING!!!! 🙂

This goes to show that regardless of our governments past and current strife….the regular citizens can unite for a good cause!!!

Thanks to all of the following individuals that helped make this a success. Aqua Air deserves special mention!!! Milos was my contact and was so helpful and friendly.  The owner, Mr Jovan Babic has a special place in his heart for his country. He is paying the thousands in transport charges! Milos Bajic is a very proud Chicago Serb. He donated 4 boxes of soccer gear for the Zrenjanin soccer team!!! Love you man!!  I hate making a list because there is always someone I forget. A GREAT BIG THANKS TO JORDAN MOSER!! He is a very kind young man that wanted to donate his VERY nice equipment bag and equipment!! YOU ROCK!!  Here are the rest that helped make it happen:

The Serbian Consulate in Chicago,Tasha Shaffer, Jordan Moser, Shay Shaffer,Gary Hasgen, Gerry and Dordina Mixon, Amy Polic, Karen Blade,  Danijel Vukosavljevic, Amanda Black, Dan and Julie Ponce Brandon Miller, Adam Fifield, June Hayden, Jenny Morgan, Pilson Auto Center, P&D transport.inc, JK Mitchell, Toledo Democrat, Greenup Press, Charleston Times Courier, Vlasina Travel, Cumberland High School, Champaign schools, Salt Fork High School, Charleston High School,   Lake Land College, First Neighbor Bank, Casey State Bank, Danyel Reeve and to all of those listed below….

  • nik rhoades
  • Dragana Djordjic-Vidovic
  • Andjelko Jovanovic
  • Dario Debeljak
  • Milos Vukotic
  • Dušan Knežević
  • Andrija Dudic
  • Ivan Jelisavcic
  • Tiha Puaca
  • Angela Skocic
  • Marijana Stojadinovic
  • Mario Maric
  • Marko Nikolic
 
8 Comments

Posted by on August 25, 2012 in Through my eyes

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Sports Equipment Donations to Arrive in October


The day has finally arrived. The 800 lbs of baseball, softball, and soccer equipment that we gathered in Greenup, IL is officially gone! It is currently being loaded onto a semi trailer that is bound for a Maryland shipping yard. It will then be placed onto a barge where it will sail to Montenegro and then be trucked to Belgrade in middle October. This result couldn’t have taken place without the kindness and generosity of regular citizens. I listed EVERYONE that played a part in this remarkable feat at the bottom of the page. THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART!  Watch the video I made about all the equipment…http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YCyeu6c-4tQ

This idea popped into my head after watching my buddies from Gradnulica Beckerek play a baseball game. I was stunned when they had to go over and ask the opposing team to borrow a baseball bat!! Also… only a couple of the kids had baseball cleats!!! I thought of all the baseball gear that I had owned as a child. Most of it I used once or twice and disregarded. The average American household is not filled with endless streams of money like many people around the world like to think. We struggle with house payments, car payments, property taxes, high food prices, etc……. BUT, One thing I have noticed after living in Mexico and Serbia is we do have more LUXURY items than most other countries. I can remember having around 6 pairs of baseball cleats, 5 or 6 baseball gloves, ENDLESS amounts of baseballs, every new video game console that came out onto the market , etc. Many of these items I used a few times and stuffed them into the closet. This is not the case in many countries around the world. I found it interesting that in Serbia it is not considered rude to talk about your income. I was invited to many of my friends homes and got to meet their parents. They would tell me their monthly income and I would try to keep my jaw from dropping in dismay. How ANYONE could support a family with shelter, food, clothing, etc on $400 a month is beyond me!!! I heard this same story from numerous people throughout Serbia. That old saying about “not appreciating what you have” is so true! After seeing the kids ask the other team for a baseball bat… i wanted to ask ” Why the hell don’t you buy your own!” Then you think back to the $400 a month family income!!! A baseball bat is the LAST THING this family needs to be purchasing. The idea hit me!! I would contact my local newspapers in Toledo, Greenup and Charleston, IL.

My TINY hometown that a HUGE heart!!

September of 2011 the Toledo Democrat, Greenup Press and Charleston Times Courier published my story about Serbia and my desire to help bring unused sports equipment to the kids. The second it hit the papers my Facebook and email were flooded with requests from people who wanted to assist in gathering it, storing it, moving it, etc. I was blown away! Businesses, family members, friends, community members and total strangers were offering their help. My mom emailed me and said ” Where the hell are we going to put all this stuff! ” hahahaha… I should have informed them first. They are in the midst of building a new home and fighting some medical issues. They didn’t need the added stress of dealing with this big project. It is really hard to start something like this in your hometown community while you are on the other side of the ocean in Serbia! hahaaha..It stressed me out to no end. I would get updates from my mother on how many things were there. I would look up shipping prices on the internet and would shudder when I saw the prices!!! I thought to myself…. “THERE IS NO POSSIBLE WAY WE CAN GET THIS OVER THERE!” I was depressed and thinking what I would tell the kids, the community that gathered it , etc.. 😦 A couple great people donated some funds to help store it, move it, and help pay for the shipping BUT we were looking at THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS! The US embassy in Belgrade contacted me offering assistance with shipment if I could get it to the Ohio military base. They just needed weights, dimensions, etc. The problem was so much of it had not been delivered so i had no idea how many packages or what the weights were. I finally decided to go back the USA on May 29th of this year. I wanted to see how my mother was doing and help with the construction of their new home. I made manyyyyyyy phone calls, sent many emails, etc while at home to try to make something happen. I posted the email addresses for the guys at the US and Serbian embassies on my Facebook page with a message to all my friends to email them and ask for assistance. It wasn’t long before both embassies had contacted me asking me to please have the emails stop!! ahahahah… The gentleman at the Serbian Consulate was the BEST!!! He said that he found a Serbian/American businessman that loved my devotion to the kids of Serbia and said he would pay for all of the shipping! Thank you, Mr. Babic and Aqua Air Enterprises!!!! I just needed to get it to Chicago!! WOW!!!!!!!!!!!! This was exactly what I wanted to hear!!!! I packaged it all up and contacted my Chicago Serb buddy, Danijel Vukosavljevic.

My buddy, Danijel Vukosavljevic showing his Serbian flag after picking up all the donations. HVALA BRATE!!! Volim te!!!

He owns a trucking company in Chicago called P&D transport.inc  He was more than happy to drive the 3.5 hours down to my parents and pick up the equipment and drop it off at the storage facility! WHEW!!!! My blood pressure dropped a few points! 🙂

This doesn’t have to end. I had some Serbian kids contact me about tennis equipment and rowing equipment too. OH!!!!! We will have one more shipment late this year or next year. My WONDERFUL cousin and her husband wrote me asking if I would be in need of 60 sets of American football pads and 50-60 football helmets! I told them that we would love to have them. The Serbian consulate asked me to assist them in locating more of it because they do not have the funds for this type of equipment and many teams are in need! I posted something about this equipment on my Facebook page and had 7 teams contact me asking for the equipment! THERE IS A LOT OF NEED!

I am very interested in starting a non-profit organization that would solicit used sports equipment for Serbia. Baseball, soccer, basketball, rowing, tennis, water polo, etc… maybe even help build sports facilities in some of the smaller towns. If anyone has any information about starting a non-profit in the state of Illinois let me know! This would let larger businesses and more people donate because they could write it off their taxes. 🙂 DON’T TELL ME I CAN’T DO SOMETHING!!!! 🙂

This goes to show that regardless of our governments past and current strife….the regular citizens can unite for a good cause!!!

Thanks to all of the following individuals that helped make this a success. Aqua Air Enterprises deserves special mention!!! Milos was my contact and was so helpful and friendly.  The owner, Mr Jovan Babic has a special place in his heart for his country. He is paying the thousands in transport charges! Milos Bajic is a very proud Chicago Serb. He donated 4 boxes of soccer gear for the Zrenjanin soccer team!!! Love you man!!  I hate making a list because there is always someone I forget. A GREAT BIG THANKS TO JORDAN MOSER!! He is a very kind young man that wanted to donate his VERY nice equipment bag and equipment!! YOU ROCK!!  Here are the rest that helped make it happen:

The Serbian Consulate in Chicago,Tasha Shaffer, Jordan Moser, Shay Shaffer,Gary Hasgen, Gerry and Dordina Mixon, Amy Polic, Karen Blade,  Danijel Vukosavljevic, Amanda Black, Dan and Julie Ponce Brandon Miller, Adam Fifield, June Hayden, Jenny Morgan, Pilson Auto Center, P&D transport.inc, JK Mitchell, Toledo Democrat, Greenup Press, Charleston Times Courier, Vlasina Travel, Cumberland High School, Champaign schools, Salt Fork High School, Charleston High School,   Lake Land College, First Neighbor Bank, Casey State Bank, Danyel Reeve and to all of those listed below….

  • nik rhoades
  • Dragana Djordjic-Vidovic
  • Andjelko Jovanovic
  • Dario Debeljak
  • Milos Vukotic
  • Dušan Knežević
  • Andrija Dudic
  • Ivan Jelisavcic
  • Tiha Puaca
  • Angela Skocic
  • Marijana Stojadinovic
  • Mario Maric
  • Marko Nikolic
 
1 Comment

Posted by on August 25, 2012 in Through my eyes

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,