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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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Two More Foreigners With Serbian Stories


I get all kinds of messages! I need to post more of them on here! Here are a few great travel stories from foreigners that traveled to Serbia and hated to leave!!!!

 

This is a fellow North American that contacted me after reading my blog. THANKS RYAN!!! GREAT STORY!!!!!

As I glided up the elevator at the Tesla airport, a few hundred dinars flew out of my pocket and I did not notice. As I continued out towards the taxi platform, a airport worker stopped me and returned my money he had picked up. I knew this was a sign that my stay in Serbia would be great and this was my first introduction to the amazing generosity of the Serbian people.
I took a bus out to Novi Sad where I was greeted by my friend Milan (who I grew up with in North America) and his family. His family welcomed me like I was one of their own. They took my bags, his grandmother gave me a kiss,the rakia was poured and I started to eat one of the most amazing meals of my life full of Ćevapi and other Serbian dishes.
The love and warmth I felt from these people was amazing. Coming from North America, it is safe to say the amount of consumption and excess is overwhelming. Also, the concept of family is often times pushed aside for personal aspirations. In Serbia, you are reminded of what is truly important: spending time with family and close friends. This is what made the biggest impact on me while I was in Serbia. To see how close families are and how generous they are towards each other was humbling and helped me realize that spending time with people who are close to you is truly the richest experience of all.
The generosity of the Serbian people was felt throughout my whole trip. I attended Exit Festival at the Petrovaradin Fortress and met many Serbs from all over the country. They wanted to make sure I was having a great time and experiencing the “real” Serbia as it is often mis-repersented in the media and popular culture. Every Serbian I met wanted to feed me, show me around the city and offered me to stay with them, something that you do not experience everyday in North America. As Charles always points out, this generosity is what makes Serbia one of the most amazing places on the planet.
 
I was also impressed with Serbians understanding of their history. Every Serbian will give you an in-depth history lesson on their country. There is no need to pay for a guided tour since every citizen is well educated on their roots. It was amazing to have a Pivo and sit back and listen to young and old tell stories of Serbia’s past and present. 
I felt compelled to reach out to Charles because what he is doing is important. He is encouraging people from all over the world to visit Serbia and see how amazing the people are. It is the people  that make this country what it is, I cant stop telling all my friends about it. 
 
Similar to my experience, Charles realizes how amazing this generosity is. I was happy to share my experience on his site because I feel it is important to explain to the rest of the world the warmth and a sense of home that is created for visitors in Serbia. I plan on returning because I feel Serbia is like my home away from home now. I encourage all travelers to make a stop here or to reach out to Charles for some advice before you go. “

The next one is from a wonderful Polish gal!!!! Great story!!! She hated to leave Serbia!!! Thanks girl!!!!

” Hi Charles,

I am from Poland. My parents and friends had the same reaction as yours. My friends thought it was dangerous and my parents even thought it was the 3rd world.
Man you’re amazing with this Serbia stuff! I’d like to live in Serbia like you, but I’m not so brave like you and I’m too close with my family to go abroad. And you know, how my parents, they doesn’t want to let their only doughter to go 😉 and no future for me there, I study weird stuff on my university 😉 But I miss Serbia so so so so much, this Burek and Pljeskavica, my serbian friends (especially one) and streets of Loznica and Novi Sad!!! And lovely time with Drina and a lot of sun !!!  You won’t believe but we have only one bus from Poland to Serbia! One bus once a week. They’re crazy. I want Serbia closer, I felt in love. :)”
 
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Posted by on August 30, 2012 in What others think

 

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Serb/American governor off to prison!


Illinois became the 21st state on Dec 3,1818. It has been home to my father’s family,  the Cathers & Burtons, and my mother’s family, the Roans & Glidewells for decades. It is the 5th most populous state and home to many different ethnic groups, religions and nationalities.  It is also home to over 450-500,000 Serbian Americans.

One of the most publicized Serbian Americans from Illinois… the last few years…has been former Governor Rod Blagojevich.  Rod is well-known for his expensive suits and his bushy hair!! He ordered his aides to “NEVER BE WITHOUT HIS BRUSH!” He was more commonly referred to as “BLAGO”

Early years…….

Rod was born on December 10th, 1956 in Chicago, IL. He is one of the sons of Radislav and Mila Blagojevic. Radislav was born in Kragujevac, Serbia and his mother, Mila, was born in Gacko, Bosnia/Hertz. They fled Yugoslavia in 1947 to start a new life in a new world! Radislav worked hard to feed his family! He spent many exhausting years working in a steel plant in Chicago. Rod grew up fast! He was shining shoes, delivering pizzas, washing dishes to assist his family with the bills and to pay for his education.  This helped to shape his politics. He was a strong supporter of blue-collar workers and union rights.

Education….

Rod graduated from high school and attended North Western University with a major in history. He graduated and enrolled in Pepperdine Law School in California where he graduated with his law degree…

Amateur boxing career

He was an athletic guy! He played high school basketball and loved boxing. He had an amateur boxing career that lasted 13 months in the middle 70;s. He fought in the 160 lb middleweight class. He won his first three matches and felt it was time for Golden Gloves competition. He won his first match but lost in the championship round! He retired after the loss. He retired with a record of 4-1.

Entrance into politics……

He married Patricia Mell, daughter of powerful Chicago alderman Richard Mell.  Rod left his position as Cook County Assistant States Attorney  to run for State Representative in 1992. He had specialized in domestic abuse, felony gun crimes and other felony cases. His father-n-law had many connections which helped propel the Blagojevich to the top of the ticket. He easily won his first primary in 1992 to face off against the Republican opponent. The district being HEAVILY Democrat made him a shoe in. He surrendered his State Rep job in 1996 to run for congress in the Illinois 5th district. He easily defeated Republican Michael Flannagan by capturing 74% of the vote! One major accomplishment he had in congress was flying to Belgrade, Serbia in 1999 with Jesse Jackson to negotiate the release of American soldiers that had been captured. He is also the only Illinois Democrat to vote in favor of the Iraq war. He did cast a NO vote on HR1664 on May 6th, 1999. That amendment was brought before congress to stop funding for use of ground troops into Yugoslavia. The bill was defeated. http://ontheissues.org/HouseVote/Party_1999-119.htm

Run for governor…..

Rod ran for the Democratic nomination in 2002. He had a hard-fought battle with popular Attorney General Roland Burris. He drew the largest support from Southern Illinois which helped him win the party’s nomination. He would be facing Jim Ryan, not to be confused with the previous governor, George Ryan.George Ryan, a  Kanakee Republican, was governor from 1999 to 2003. He was sentenced to 6.5 years in prison for the “license to drive” scandal. Blagojevich beat out Jim Ryan with 52% of the vote. Becoming the first Democrat governor in Illinois… since 1972.. He ran on the platform of “CHANGE” and “FIGHTING CORRUPTION”… kinda ironic, huh?….  I was a proud supporter of Gov Blago. I remember the day I wore my Blagojevich 2002 sweatshirt to my father’s house. He just shook his head!!! hahahaha…

Re-election of 2006…..

Rod didn’t have the most productive 4 years but did make some friends and plenty of enemies! He had large support from the African-American community, gun control advocates, union workers….He claimed to have said ” I am the first African-American governor of Illinois!” He continued the moratorium on the death penalty that Gov Ryan had imposed. He also oversaw the passage of the Earned Income Tax Credit, statewide smoking ban, expansion of Kidscare and other health programs for the minority and needy, he signed a law that would prohibit discrimination of gays in housing, employment, etc and campaigned on pork barrel spending! Blago would face former Comptroller Judy Barr Topinka in the 2006 election. His approval rating had fallen to about 36% but he was able to beat her by 11% points by linking her with former corrupt Gov Ryan. Blago was very unpopular in Central Illinois. The LARGE % of my friends and family couldn’t stand to look at him and I would proudly wear my Blago clothes shirt and paint my car windows with BLAGOJEVIC 2006!!! :).. Dad told me one time to park the car behind the house so no one would see it. I liked his work with AMTRAK. He provided additional funding that would guarantee 3 trains a day for all AMTRAK locations! It is a cheap, clean and reliable form of transportation for college kids and downstate professionals!

Making enemies….

Blago was very good at making enemies! He was despised by many Republicans and fellow Democrats. He expressed concern that if more Democrats got elected he would face greater opposition. Pat Quinn, his Lieutenant Governor, claimed they had such a falling out that they had not spoken for one year! He also had a HORRIBLE relationship with Attorney General, Lisa Madigan and her father, House Speaker Michael Madigan. Joining the list are more fellow Democrats, Jesse White and Dan Hynes! One legislator said “That’s a real reason he has such poor relations with the Legislature and can’t get any of his agenda passed, because he doesn’t talk to anybody.” Rep Joe Lyons was quoted as saying  “We have a madman. The man is insane.” Other words used to describe him  “disengaged” “dictatorial” “cukoo” “lunatic”…….Blago tried intimidating one lawmaker into supporting a bill and the lawmaker claimed  ” he blew up at me like a 10-year-old child. Screaming obscenities , telling me he will ruin my career”

Drop in poll numbers…….

In Oct of 2008, Blago was ranked as “least popular governor” by Rasumessen with a NEVER SEEN BEFORE 0% ranking him excellent,  4 % ranking him good, 29% fair and 64% poor. The Chicago Tribune reported that he received the lowest ratings of any politician in the history of their newspaper polls. These poor numbers were before the charges were labeled against him. His approval numbers dropped to 7% after that happened!

Corruption and arrest….

6AM … December 9th, 2008 … Federal agents showed up at Blagojevich’s residence and arrested him for counts relating to bribery  and corruption. They had been investigating him for many years. They tapped his phones and had hours of taped conversations to use in the prosecution of him. The charges against him included “pay to play” schemes. He was recorded trying to sell the Senate seat that Barak Obama had left. The governor is responsible for filling the seat of anyone that vacates. One priceless moment was when he called President Obama a “m*therfucker”…

The tapes reveal a two-term governor who no longer wants his job, badly wants cash and is determined to leverage a financial benefit out of his appointment powers.

“F**k him,” Blagjoveich says of Obama during a lengthy call with top aides and his wife recorded on November 10th, “For nothing? F**k him.”

In another section of the complaint, Blagojevich expresses exasperation that Obama and his team aren’t willing to offer him an inducement in exchange for appointing  an aide, apparently Valerie Jarrett, to the Senate.

Blagojevich “said he knows that the President-elect wants Senate Candidate 1 for the Senate seat but ‘they’re not willing to give me anything except appreciation. F**k them,'” says the complaint.

Listen to the recording….http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6md3ap4YIwY

Blagojevich eventually appointed Roland Burris to fill the vacated Senate seat before he was impeached by the Illinois legislature on Jan 9th, 2009 by a vote of 114-1. He became the first Illinois governor to be impeached and was removed from office on Jan 29th, 2009. He was charged with 24 federal charges and the first jury was hung on one of the 23 counts. A mistrial was called but the prosecution said they would proceed with a retrial on the 23 counts. On June 27, 2011 …he was found guilty of 17 of the 20 charges, not guilty on one, and no verdict was rendered by the jury on two counts. He was sentenced to 14 years in Englewood Federal Correctional Center in Littleton, Colorado and started serving the sentence on  Mar 15th, 2012. Colorado law states that a convict must serve up to 85% of their sentence … meaning he will be there for a minimum of 12 years. Englewood requires inmates to work at small jobs such as cleaning toilets, cooking, picking up litter, planting trees at a wage of $.12 an hour. 

There are many wonderful, intelligent, inspiring Serbians in the great state of Illinois but this is one for the record books! I get lots of messages from people saying that I never talk about any negatives. Here you go!!! I loved Rod Blagojevich and never dreamed he would turn into this kind of monster. There are some conspiracy theorists that claim he was targeted because of his threat to stop all business with Bank of America. Who knows!!! When you listen to him on those tapes its hard to believe that!!!

 
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Posted by on April 19, 2012 in Through my eyes

 

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Chicago… “Little Serbia”


Chicago will always be one of my favorite cities  I have had the honor of living in. It is home to many famous people …. Barak Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan… just to name a few… Chicago is the largest city in my home state of Illinois. It is not the capital as many think… that honor goes to Springfield … yeah.. the hometown of the Simpsons..;) Chicago is the 3rd largest city in the USA boasting 9.5million people when you include the suburbs… It is a booming city that has rebounded from the Great Fire of 1871 where 1/3 of the city was burned to the ground. Today is home to the largest building in the USA, Willis Tower (formerly named Sears Tower). It is 108 stories or 442 meters.  Chicago is also home to the Chicago Board of Trade which merged with Chicago Mercantile Exchange and is one of the most important pieces of the worlds economy…

 

Chicago is also a major sports city!!! We have very popular and successful sports teams and some of the best athletes of all time.

Chicago is also home to many different religions. We have a large Jewish, Catholic, Hindu, Muslim, Orthodox, Sikh, and Buddist community and all living in harmony.

Chicago is also a very multi ethnic city…. We have very a large Hispanic community, African American community, Chinese Community, Polish Communty, Gay community :), and one of the most astonishing is the Serbian community! When most people think of Chicago they think of the Irish community but Chicago is home to over 500,000 Serbians!!! That is the largest European immigrant population of all! The Irish come in second at 200,000!!! Belgrade, Serbia is home to the largest amount of Serbs in the world at 2.8 million but Chicago is #2!!!! Larger than their second largest city of Novi Sad!  

I had the pleasure of living in this city for a few years and really loved it! The large mass of Serbs might explain my obsession with Serbia! Maybe the Serbs put some sort of “Serbian love potion” in the water… 🙂

 
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Posted by on March 18, 2012 in Through my eyes

 

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My unfortunate experience in a Serbian jail and court…


I never claimed to be a perfect person…:) …

The police in your home country can be a terrifying experience. Now imagine you are in a country that you have had a recent war with and you get confronted by some BIG, MEAN looking Serbian cops!!! If any of you have recently watched the propaganda filled movie “Land of Blood and Honey” you would expect the Serbian cops to throw you down, break your fingers, kick you in the face and shoot you in the head… I have always been a good boy and have had very few run-ins with the police… with the exception of about 20 driving tickets! 🙂 I am not a good or a responsible driver and will never claim to be. Out of every country I have traveled to I have never had to deal with the police… UNTIL NOW……..

A few weeks ago… a friend called me and invited me to hit the Lion Pub here in Zrenjanin for a few beers.. It was a boring, snowy Sunday night and I quickly agreed… The Lion Pub is not far from my house and they serve an 8% red beer that is only 120 dinars…. We sat down and drank our fair share…. It hit me pretty hard because I usually drink 5% beers. We left the bar pretty late and there were police at the corner of the street.. They asked to see our I.D and I refused because I had done nothing wrong and was walking home. They didn’t speak English well and walked up to me asking me for “passport and police registration card” .. I again said “NO, I didn’t do anything wrong.” It pays to know the laws in a country before confronting the police. ahahahha.. They turned me around, handcuffed me and stuck me in the back of the cop car. They took me to the police station in downtown Zrenjanin. I was there for the night and early on Monday morning they came into my cell with an officer that spoke English and said “we must see your passport. we will take you to get it”  I was very nervous because as an American you are allowed 90 days in Serbia before you must exit and return. I had forgotten about it and let my 90 day visa expire…. I told the officer that spoke English about my issue.. He said “you will have to go to court and see the judge” We drive to my apartment and get my passport and police registration card…. They look it over and take me to the courthouse… They ask me ” how much cash do you have on you?…. because the judge will fine you and you must stay in jail until you pay.” I only had 150E in my wallet and they said it will probably be enough… I nervously waited my turn… FINALLY! He sends his assist out to get us… We walk into the room . There are three cops, one judge, translator and clerk… The judge is VERY kind and respectful! He had heard of me and listened to my excuses for letting my visa expire and for not showing the cops my I.D.. Back in my state of Illinois… you are not required to show a cop your I.D unless you do something wrong… I told him my sister worked for the Illinois State Police and I do respect the police. I told him that my sister would slap me for my stupidity. He thought it was funny.  We sat in the chambers for around 2 hours while they typed up my sentence, punishment and fine totals. He said it would be 310E and I must leave Serbia in 7 days and return with a fresh stamp and registration card to avoid deportation and a suspension from entering Serbia for 5 years… I quickly agree to fine and he gives me till the following Monday to pay the rest of the fine. WHEWWWWWWW!!!!!

The police in other countries have always been a HUGE fear of mine. Every travel guide, government website, personal blogs and many movies show nothing but corrupt cops and horrible treatment and disgusting jail conditions. I can say that the Zrenjanin police were nothing but extreme professionals! They treated a rude foreigner with nothing but respect and decency! The judge was also one of the most professional, fair and friendly judges I have have ever encountered!! I went back to the police station and court to apologize a few days later for my stupidity!!! I have learned a lesson and will never let my visa expire nor refuse to show my passport! 🙂

JA SAM GLUP!!!!!!!!!!

 
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Posted by on March 8, 2012 in Through my eyes

 

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Respect for Serbia from 4 more foreigners that visited!!


These posts are my favorite… It shows that many people that have visited Serbia have the same impression i do!!!! Thanks for all of these personal accounts!!! It means a lot!!!

The first one come from another gentleman from the USA.  The “peach state or Georgia, is home to a great man that is currently living in Kosovo. He doesn’t feel comfortable giving his name because of his current job but he has  this to say…..

”  Charles, so i missed going to kosovo in 2002 with my lrsd unit by a few months when 10th mtn division was here. anyhow in january 2008 i saw this really cool looking chick in all black on myspace. she had videos of the serbian army doing training on her page. i was thinking, “this chick is bad ass.. ” so i sent her a friend request.. well that chick was “jelena”  my wife, now. anyhow ill write more later.. thats the start of me coming to serbia..anyhow i never really paid attention to the news or anything so i didnt know much about kosovo and serbia. she told me a little about it but not too much. well we became pretty good friends on the internet and her family kind of got to know me and all. we never really expected to meet but we talked about it anyway from time to time. (more of a what if type thing).. we talked pretty much nonstop for the next two years and we both dated whoever and lived our own life. anyhow, so i was unemployed and looking for work and this company wrote me and asked if i wanted a job in kosovo. i accepted the offer and i flew in to “pristina, serbia” as my ticket said and as i still consider it this day. after i arrived in kosovo, i told her i was in a place called kosovo and she got really excited. she informed that she was 2 and a half hours up the road from me.. so the relationship i was in was going to hell and we split up. afterwards, her and i decided to meet in skopje, macedonia and hang out there. she brought a friend and i brought a friend. it was cool and she was cool. i started studying the history of kosovo and started finding lies in all the propaganda the albanians told me. after a lot of researching and digging through the mess i found out that really, albanians killed more of themselves in kosovo than the serbians did. im not going to get too much in to my views but i decided that id start educating americans on the truth about kosovo and bosnia.her and i love to go to monasteries and ive been to nis several times and it is awesome. anyhow..shorten it how you want and any details you want just ask… but thats a summarized version of my story and my intent after i leave this current job and come to serbia where i can have free speech. oh and did you know that when americans came to kosovo, the uck and kla (albanian militias) were shooting at our army?and do not use our names if you say anything about us bro”

Great words, brother!!! Can’t wait to come down and visit you!!!!

The next one is from a young lady named Anna from Canberra, Australia!! I love your city!! I was there twice!!!!! Here is her experience with Novi Sad and Serbia…….

“Hi Charles… My friend told me about you and I had to share my story about Serbia. I am glad you are doing what you are doing. My friends down here in the Serbian community read your blog and posts all the time. My country has many Serbs and I made fast friends with a few of them in my Uni days. They told me about something called “Exit Fest” that was suppose to be a WILD TIME :).  I begged my mom for two months to let me go, She was concerned with my safety after hearing all the crap about Serbia and war. Everyone thinks there is a constant war going on in Serbia. 😉 She finally broke down and let me go. I have to admit that I had a picture of Serbia in my head before arriving and it was NOTHING like what I came to realize.

We arrived in Belgrade in July and it was hot and crowded at the airport with many foreigners. We finally got a bus to Novi Sad for this music fest. I across from two Serbian guys and they were so attractive <3. They spoke perfect English and were total gentleman. We arrived in Novi Sad and met two of my friends cousins. They brought us to their home and I got to meet the whole family. They were just like you described kind, giving, caring but not rich. We ate something called a cavapi and it was very tasty. I am a very picky eater but enjoyed the food. Exit Fest was like nothing I had ever seen! 20 or so stages, music, party 24/7, great people and still safe!  The time ended and it was time to go back home. I hated to leave! I really hope I can afford another trip soon.

Sorry if it is long and boring but I wrote it quickly. Thanks and if you come back down here let us know!”

NICE!!! Exit is a blast!! I had a great time but my liver will never recover!!

The next one is not a quoted experience but a friend of mine named Keith. He is a young man from the beautiful state of California. He had the opportunity to travel to Serbia and live here for a few years while attending a university. He has such a great passion for helping Serbia and its youth. He is finishing his masters program in California and when finished he will be moving to Zrenjanin or Novi Sad to continue the AWESOME organization he started. It is called Serbian Baseball Development Association. He has already coached, raised money, equipment and has a dream to expand baseball to many communities all over Serbia! He has a big heart and great plans! Thanks for all you do, Keith!!!!!!

The last one is from an unlikely source…. Many of you know that I have over 500 muslim friends around the world and they are some of the kindest, and best friends I could have ever dreamed of having! There is  a HUGE propaganda campaign out there that says SERBS HATE AND WANT TO WIPE MUSLIMS OFF THE PLANET!!!  This is what you hear and its how they try to justify intervention. I have  4 more muslim friends of mine that have visited and lived here and want to share their experience. They have yet to respond but keep your eyes peeled…. Ahmed has been a friend of mine for a few years. He and I have similar experiences here. He shared the following……

“charlie, i read your srbian blog alot. it brings back my time in Belgrade. My father was working for the Algerian government in Serbia. My country of Algeria dont recognize Kosovo as a free country. No matter what the world says , i dont think it has anythign to do with religion. i am muslim and love my religion but it is against international law to allow kosovo to be separate. my country and serbia have a friendly relationship and they will never recognize an illegal country. i lived in belgrade for over one year and everyone that knew me knew i was muslim. they were all orthodox but didnt judge or “try to kill me or harm me”. they were all very kind and proud of their country and religion. my religion says to respect everyone and that is what I do. i hate that they make serbians out to be killers. they probably did some bad things but the albainains, bosniaks also did them. you cant judge a whole coutry for war. war is always bad for everyone but srbians always get blamed for bad. i liked there country and have lots of srbian friend..  sorry for my bad English.”

Ahmed.. love you brother!!!!! You are the man!! Can’t wait to some see you!!

THANKS AGAIN AND KEEP THEM COMING!! I love to hear from all of you!!! VOLIM SRBIJU!!!!!!

 
8 Comments

Posted by on January 25, 2012 in What others think

 

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Two Americans and a British woman tell their Serbia story!


I just received three more AWESOME stories from two American girls and a lady from England.

The first one comes from a young American girl that traveled here for the first time in 2009 and quickly fell in love!!!

“Hey Charles! Ivana told me that she wrote to you about helping me find a job. Thanks so much for the help! She also told me that you are writing a blog about Americans coming to serbia and I would love to help. Ivana and I met through her cousin who lives in America. I came in 2009 to visit her and another friend of mine who vacations every summer in berane cg. I immediately fell in love with Serbia when I came in 2009. At that time I didn’t know a lot of Serbian but everyone was so friendly and always willing to help. I also fell in love with the food and night life. So ivana invited me to come again this year and I couldn’t pass up the offer. So now I am living in zemun and I’ve never been happier in my life. There is always something to do , even if we are just spending our evenings sitting at a cafe. Overall there isn’t anything I can complain about, the beer, rakija and food are amazing along with the people. Please let me know if I can help you with anything else. Are you planning on coming to Belgrade anytime soon? Talk to you soon!”

Great words!!! Thanks Cortny!!!

The next one comes from another American that has yet to visit Serbia but has met some dear friends that are Serbian…

“hello charles, let me start by saying im a big fan of yours and was very happy when vladimir and branko gave me the link to meet you. I have never been to serbia but i hope one day i will be able to visit, as the ppl remind me of the spartans and i respect them very much. Also i find their country is quite beautiful. I have several great serbian friends several who i have not gotten along with in the beginning because they didnt seem to happy when they found out i was once a usa soldier. I inlisted when i was 18 and i was shot in the hip trying to save a friend when we were ambushed on the way back to base in iraq. I was shot when i was 20 and because the us army didnt need to have a gimpy soldier i was forced out of the service. When some of the serbs found out the accusations started and i calmly explained to them that though i was once a soldier i have seen the atrocities my government has caused in the great land of serbia and other countries and that i hate and despice my government with a passion and tthat even though i couldnt say sorry enough for what the usa gov had done, if i had the oppurtunity i would go back in time and change what had happened and i was so terribly sorry. I told them that since i couldnt change what had happened i would try to open the eyes of my fellow americans so that they can see the wrong that had been done. Now i am proud to say that i have won their friendship and respect. I was born and still live in south carolina at the age of 22,but i hope one day to travel abroad. You are quite interesting to me and i would like to post one of your blogs about the horrific movie jolie is making so that maybe my fellow americans will open their eyes like i did a few years ago and i hope to gain support for them against this horrible movie. I have much respect for you and the ppl of serbia. I hope you have a great day and look forward to your answer about me posting your blog. Thank you so much………melissa knutson poston, or as my serbian friend calls me, militza.”

Thanks a lot for your kind words!! Hope to see you in Serbia soon!!

Last but not least is my from my British friend, Tissa…

“Serbia is what made me leave my job in the UK and pack up (my now husband also influenced my decision). My mothers’s Serbian (still classes herself as Yugoslavian though) and father is Japanese. I returned to Serbia for the second time in 2009 after a 6 year gap and was surprised to find that all the people and faces I’d encountered on my first visit were quick to hear of my arrival and make an appearance. They took me out, showed me around the city, drank with me, fed me, told jokes, they were nothing but extremely generous and entertaining… I have never experienced this treatment in any other country and most definitely not in the UK.

My husband and I became friends on my first visit to Belgrade and kept in small contact throughout the years as friends (his lack of english and my lack of serbian made this a little tough) However during my visit in 2009 sparks flew and within 6 months I’d learnt the language, and by the next summer we were married and pregnant a month after the ceremony. Weddings in Serbia and the balkans are something of a different world. (Charles will have to do a post about them) They are so much livlier than any English ceremony I’d ever been too.

My experience with Serbs are nothing but positive. Majority of my friends are not on a high wage bracket, yet they are forever happy, laughing, socialising, outside, running errands, helping neighbours, helping family and friends, preparing for celebrations, preserving pickles, carrying watermelons…. the thing I admire most is they never run short of a sense of humour (even if quite often it is black humour)

I love the country even beside its dark spaces and not so positive areas. However a country that had been through so much turmoil for so many hundreds of years has an absolutely admirable attitude to life.

This VS the UK for example- Some people in the UK (some high earners) are anti-social, cold, not hospitable, fail to offer a drink on entering their home (if they ever even invite you in their home- I’ve known people for several years and have never seen the inside of their home or met their family) are miserable, lack sense of humor, binge drink to the point that I don’t remember the last conversation when they were sober as by the time they make it to a club they have already been drinking for hours before hand at home… they work extremely long hours with minimal break and on leaving work they turn into zombies… a million miles away from flashing me a smile on the tube.

Zivela Srbija! ”

Great story!!!! I have yet to experience a Serb wedding.. It sounds like it is a MUST!!! Thanks a lot!!!

It is great to hear from foreigners that have actually taken the time to check out this beautiful little country!! If any of you have others with similar stories … email me … charlesserbia@gmail.com

 
5 Comments

Posted by on January 22, 2012 in What others think

 

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