N – 1992 – Temerin
Youth worker at KZM in Temerin.
Q: What does a feeling of ’being fulfilled in every aspect’ means for you?
A: ’Being fulfilled in every aspect’? Well, I really am fulfilled in every aspect, but what makes me most happy are some people, my friends, then some interesting people, some places. But truly I enjoy nature the most and I enjoy running some projects. Well, I can say I’m overbooked, that I really work a lot, but that fulfills me and I’m really happy, although I don’t have so much time to enjoy. In the little things I find…
Q: What is it that you find in nature that fulfills you?
A: Well, for example in this space, at the Youth Office, in this association, we have in the back… when I sit on the stairs, I have a view on three trees, and those three trees rustling in the wind or how they move, wave, that fulfills me. I mean, they make me calm and really fulfill me.
Q: And the projects?
A: And the projects… Projects definitely fulfill me because I do what I want, what I love and what I think is important for the youth. Those kind of activities always bring together a good team of people and we all dive into that idea together, and of course we feel fulfilled, we’re happy when we do what we want, what is our need and if we’re solving some problem in our own unique way, so…
Q: And, what do you think, what are the factors that influence us to be fulfilled in every aspect, happy?
A: Which factors influence us? Well, I don’t know, I think it’s important to do everything we do with our hearts. And I always try to do that, to do everything I do according to my personal values and principles, and of course I feel fulfilled then whatever I do. That’s why I don’t do things that don’t interest me, I don’t do things that don’t make me happy. I don’t do things just to get them done, I do them because I really like to do them. So, I provide many different services, young people gather around different activities, and we create some really creative stuff, so of course I’ll be happy in making those things happen.
Q: How does the environment in which you live in influence that?
A: Well, people react differently. It depends. I always have a target group that I speak to and with which I work, and that target group usually reacts well. Now, there are always people who will find some kind of problem, who will say something like ‘Well, that’s not done well’ or ‘That could’ve been better’ or ‘There could’ve been more people’. But, of course, we ourselves are never completely satisfied with our activities either. You always want to make things better, give it more quality. I mean, we always strive to improve everything we do, and that’s why it’s good we’re not content. If we were completely content with what we do, the quality of our work probably wouldn’t improve.
Q: Do you think that it can put someone down, diminish someone’s confidence if there are bad reactions to what he does? When someone’s fulfilled, and someone else makes bad comments – can that person be so fulfilled?
A: Well, such things have impact, of course, but I think that the influence of the environment, of the people who don’t understand, well… I think – who has the credibility to tell you if something’s well done or not? So there are not that many people who can comment on those things, and the people who would comment are probably very caring and I think it’s their goal to improve things too. And then, if we made a mistake, we’ll get a positive or good feedback in an assertive way, in the right way in which things should happen. So… I mean, there are no objections to our activities, no one said like ‘Why did you do that?’ or ‘You didn’t do that well‘. It happens very rarely. There are people who make comments on every activity like ‘This sucks, I don’t want to do it’. Those people don’t take part in these activities in the first place. So, we are content with how people react to the activities we organize.
Q: And since I know that there are half Hungarians, half Serbs here in Temerin, how do they get along? How do they function? Do they cooperate?
A: Well, they cooperate, but how much is the community focused… how intercultural we truly are, that’s arguable. In some activities, some associations do better than the others. For example, some structures are more developed, others less. The youth truly cooperates lately, but I see a lot of gaps in education, in schools, in institutions. Since we have 30% of Hungarians, we are a bilingual community and all the programs we do should be done bilingually. But, we don’t have capacities for it and then a barrier is created. If I teach in Serbian, then the children who listen to their classes in elementary school in Hungarian won’t understand everything well, so we try to get some young people to get involved who speak well both Hungarian and Serbian, so they would take part in those activities with us, and so they could clarify when something is not clear. We had a couple of projects dealing with this issue. Actually, we had a lot of projects dealing with this issue. And every time we do something, we try to include the „Kokai Imre“ school. They have educational program in Hungarian language. And we have „Petak Kočić“ school which has educational program in Serbian. Now, since we’re a big municipality, we have two settlements Bački Jarak and Sirig. There we have the schools „Danilo Zelenović“ and „Slavko Rodić“. We have a high-school „Lukijan Mušicki“ which is bilingual, there are classes in both Serbian and Hungarian, and we really try to connect the youngsters. I believe that people started changing now that the Youth Office has started these activities with some associations. Because we also have coffee shops and places to go out, and an ethno house „Tajhaz“, we have „Brvnara“, and all of it is king of split. Young people of Serbian nationality go out into some coffee shops where young people of Hungarian nationality won’t go out because they don’t have friends there, their kind of music is not played there…. So, there are some other obstacles. I’ve lived here for 22 years, which is how old I am, and I don’t speak Hungarian. And if I spoke Hungarian I might be able to communicate better with that part of my community, and if they spoke Serbian better, they could also communicate better with us. But, the system allows that if you’re of Hungarian nationality, actually if you speak Hungarian language and that’s your mother tongue, you have the possibility to function great, with no obstacles, to speak Hungarian in the store, at the Health Center, to speak your mother tongue in all such places. You have no need to learn Serbian until you reach University. Then the problems start. Young people either go to Hungary or stay in some of the institutions where they can work in their own language.
Q: Don’t you think people who live in a foreign country should learn the language of the country they live in?
A: Well, they should, but…
Q: I mean, for understanding other people.
A: Yes, definitely. I mean, people try, but you know what the biggest problem is? Here, for an example, at the elementary school… at least while I was a student, we has English language, we had German language. You learn some basics of that language, but if you don’t speak it, of course you can’t communicate well. And now if the kids of Hungarian nationality at the „Kokai Imre“ school learn only Hungarian language and have no friends of Serbian nationality or that speak Serbian, they don’t use that language and they simply don’t know it. And when they find themselves in a situation to speak Serbian, then they slowly improve, because they actually know it, they know some rules, they know a lot of words, but they haven’t reached the stage to talk to someone.
Q: And do you think they might be embarrassed to start talking because they don’t speak Serbian well?
A: Well, in the beginning they are shy in our programs when we connect them, they are shy. Later they open up, the whole communication improves. I see that later they add each other on Facebook, they talk, go out together. That means our programs have good results. Now, I can’t present to a donor or, I don’t know, to the community how important that is, but I think it’s extremely important that such activities take place, to bring young people of different nationalities together, because this is the only moment when they communicate. In all the other systems, the system will keep them apart. ‘Come on, you of Hungarian nationality speak Hungarian over there, and we will speak Serbian over here, and Bačka will be peaceful’. Well, how peaceful is Bačka, that’s…
Q: And what do you think what is the best way for a nation to express its identity, without hurting another nation with which they coexist in a community?
A: By not letting your national identity influence things. We organize activities here, it might get emphasized, but they both need to be emphasized, and that always turns out bad. That’s why I think if we look at any person, either of Serbian or Hungarian nationality, and what’s woven into their identity, there is the ring of nationality too. And when you reveal that nationality a bit, you realize that culture and tradition and language are a part of it. All kinds of things are located in that ring of nationality and that’s a very sensitive area which shouldn’t be touched. And then, if we would organize an activity in which we would say ‘Come on, Serbs and Hungarians two flags’, and now we’re like doing something, that always ends up badly. But if we forget those flags, if we forget those nationalities, and we say ‘Come on, we are all young, that’s what we have in common. We are all people. We all have similar needs for cultural events, for some activities’, then that connects us well and the results are good.
Q: Do you think it’s like that because of the environment, because of Serbia, that you can’t express your culture because you’re in someone else’s country? Or does it work the same way everywhere in the world?
A: No, you can express your culture, that’s not the problem. I believe no one is complaining about that. Hungarians have their own holidays too, they celebrate them regularly, and all such events go on with no problem. But if we want to connect both nationalities… Now will you celebrate a Hungarian holiday. Well, if my community is celebrating, I will join in, I have no problem with that. Now, the question is how someone else will react if they visit such an activity where they only speak Hungarian and where the Hungarian flag is flying. Then they will ask themselves ‘Wait, is this Serbia?’ and there’ll always be someone who will have bad, negative attitude towards that. And then if you say ‘Hey, this is an activity that connects both nations’… For example, it happened that Hungarian associations organized some events and they invited the general community, and you would come, but the program is announced over the mic only in Hungarian. I really don’t understand Hungarian, and it’s not that I’m not supportive of it and that I don’t want to, but I simply don’t speak that language. And maybe that’s my fault, but I wouldn’t blame myself. I would blame the system which didn’t teach me to let this environment make me one language richer. So, today, 22 years old, I would know two languages, I would be richer for an additional value. Now, for me that’s fortune. What is that for other people, that’s the question.
Q: Did you ever find yourself in a situation that someone of Hungarian nationality felt uncomfortable speaking Hungarian with someone who is also Hungarian, passing by somewhere, and that someone gives them a mean look? Something like that.
A: Well, we had such activities here that… I mean, you have right wing organizations which promote that limited view. Like, just one language, one culture, Serbia, three fingers. I mean, that’s not our story, nor will it ever be. That system of values can’t find its way into institutions because that would be awful for the whole community. I mean, there are people who think that way. It can’t be avoided. You have such things everywhere. Not only in Serbia, but in the surrounding area too. We should fight against such things. Well, I don’t know how to comment a situation like that. It happened, but you overcome it.
Q: And what does the term ‘nation’ mean for you? What does it mean when someone says he belongs to a certain nation?
A: To be honest, I don’t have that feeling of nation here. Maybe I have a greater sense of community than of nation. I have some friends, for example, who visited Latvia and Latvians are proud Latvians because their culture and tradition are not limiting. They, for example, celebrate life, celebrate nature. And their national songs are dedicated to that sort of growth in the community. Here the songs and our culture in general are such that we make ourselves to be Heavenly people. And I don’t see myself in that, you know. I am kind of more free, I am more for forming that sense of community than the national one. I mean, if we’re gonna talk about the feeling that should be formed here.
Q: You think that things should be created which everyone can glorify?
A: Yes. For a community such as ours, yes.
Q: I agree. And what is happiness for you? When do you feel most happy?
A: Well, I answered that in the beginning. I feel most happy when…
Q: …you’re working on a project.
Q: And what do you think, the identity of a person… What is the best way for someone to express themselves, to do things their own way, not to pretend, to be what they are?
A: Well, that’s an excellent question. I think that, especially young people, that they need a lot of time to find themselves. And in order to be happy that’s the most important thing – to get to know yourself first, your values, your interests, what is it you like, and only then to know how to enjoy it. That’s why every time I talk to young people I try to inspire them to communicate with themselves as much as possible. The best thing in which you can talk to yourself is a diary, for example. If that one little thing would… if they would put in the system for young people to write diaries… it’s a space where you’re alone with yourself, where you’re talking to yourself, explaining some events. Aand if you get back to those pages few years later, you will see how much you’ve improved some of your skills, knowledge, attitudes, and that you’ve realizes what life is and what surrounds you and what are your possibilities. So, it’s only a matter of reflection. To reflect for yourself what is happening and what you’re experiencing. I mean, you can also do that if you talk to your friends and you tell them about your day, you describe things every day, and you will grow. It can’t turn out any other way. So, when young people understand themselves, then they can enjoy the activities that feel good to them. Someone will realize what’s their favorite band, what kind of gigs they like, what kind of music feels best, I don’t know. You can express yourself through being creative, through decoupage, making jewelry, making clay cups or something, I don’t know. So, there are millions of ways to express yourself. Now, to get to that part, you have to get to know yourself first.
Q: So, you think that a diary is one of the ways?
A: A diary is one of the most beautiful activities for me, and I would introduce it in school curriculums as mandatory. Well, maybe not that radical. Let’s say I wouldn’t make it mandatory, but I would tell the kids ‘Hey, people, it is very important that you have your own diary, to write down things that are happening to you’. A diary or… I find it brilliant when someone comments on some news. That’s another way to develop critical attitude. So, that can be one of the activities, for example. In general, to attend a creative workshop, to make something for yourself at the creative workshop. You express yourself there, in your own way, and that will get better and better if you continue working on it. So, I think we can express ourselves in many different ways, and every form of expression makes us better in a way
Q: And love? Do you think love should be given only to the person you’re in love with or also to friends, family, everybody equally? What is love for you?
A: That’s a complex question. To whom… more to him, less to him. I guess how…
Q: Does it happen a lot that someone complains you give them less attention that to your girlfriend?
A: Well, friends complain that I don’t give them enough attention, but they’re aware that I have too many things going on. I mean, I don’t know. It’s how I function, I socialize with people whose company I enjoy and, I can’t say only when I enjoy it – of course I’m there for them when they need me the most – but I don’t make it difficult for myself that it has to be forced, like I need to see some friend every other day at 18:55, and then that’s like because we love each other. Well, it’s not like that. So, if we’re gonna talk about love, love is when it feels god. Love is when you have time. And love is when… I don’t know. And that grows. And if you feel like paying more attention to it, then you do it.
Q: And do people understand when, for example, you tell them that your love is not only friendship or love as love, but also art, for example? Do people understand that or they wonder how can that be love?
A: Well, I don’t express it that way. (Laughs.) First of all, I don’t express it that way. I say, for example, that I do things with my heart, and you can say that’s a kind of love, but I don’t call it that to avoid that confusion, what it could mean. But… Well, I don’t know what to say on that subject. I mean, love is life.