B – 1985 – Temerin
Graduate of the Faculty of Philosophy with an MA Psychology. Volunteered in the Youth Office of the municipality of Temerin as a peer educator. He worked in the Social Care Center of the municipality of Temerin as a marriage consultant. Grew up in Beli Manastir (Croatia), moved to Novi Sad in 2005 and then moved to Temerin.
Q: You live in Temerin?
Q: How are you today?
Q: I’m glad to hear that, since this weather is a bit strange.
A: I don’t mind the weather. I don’t really pay attention to it.
Q: Could you tell me if you have a job? Are you trying to find a job? Do you study? What do you do?
A: Well, I’m unemployed. I’m a psychologist by vocation. I had a job till November, but I don’t have one since November. I’m now looking for another job. I’ve applied for a few and now I’m waiting to see if it pans out.
Q: OK. I hope everything will work out, since unfortunately that’s a common problem.
A: Well, I hope so too. We’ll see.
Q: Could you tell me if you grew up in Temerin?
A: No, I haven’t. I’m from Croatia. I grew up there. I’ve moved to Temerin in 2006.
Q: Well, it would be interesting to ask you about your childhood here if you grew up here, but you didn’t.
A: No. (They laugh.)
Q: So we have to change it a bit. How old were you exactly when you moved here?
A: Well, so, I was born in ’85, I was 20 years old when I moved to Novi Sad in 2005. So, in 2006 I was 21 years old.
Q: 21 years old?
Q: Well, you were already a grown up.
A: Well, yes. I came here to study. I’ve spent only my first year in Novi Sad, and then moved to Temerin.
Q: How did you feel when you moved to Temerin? What was the situation like the first few months?
A: Well, I felt good because I’ve spent some time here before. My dad moved here in ’96, so I came here every summer, so it wasn’t a new environment for me. I mean, I knew some people, I had relatives here, so it was OK.
Q: Yes. It wasn’t something completely new for you.
A: No, no, no. I was visiting all the time, yes.
Q: Tell me was it interesting to grow up here?
A: Would it be…?
Q: Actually to live here, not to grow up here. Was it interesting for you to spend your time here?
A: Was it interesting? Well, yes. I mean, when I got to know the people, when I found some company, then yes. To be honest, during my first years of studies I didn’t get around much in Temerin. I mean, I lived here, but I was basically just sleeping here. I was always in town, at the university and all. So only after few years I started socializing in Temerin. It became interesting then. It wasn’t especially interesting till then. When I found some company, then it became OK. So, now it’s good.
Q: Considering that you’re now getting closer to your thirties compared to the generations that are now, I don’t know, 14, 18 years old, who are just approaching adulthood, do you think they find it interesting here?
A: Well, I believe so, but I don’t know how much the younger generations are now used to… whether their expectations are too great, but I think that Temerin offers enough for its size and number of residents, enough activities, I mean content. How can I put it, there are coffee shops you can go out to, there are some cultural events. Not a lot, but some. If you’re really interested, you can attend. So it all depends on the people and what they need. I mean, someone always complains, nothing’s ever good enough, and when something’s happening, they don’t go. So, I think they have an opportunity to socialize nicely, to have fun here and to learn something. Of course not as much as Novi Sad, but Novi Sad is huge, I mean much bigger than Temerin, but I think there’s enough here too, that it’s OK in that respect.
Q: Yes. The situation is different. And if, for example, people who live in Temerin had greater desires, cultural, sports, any kind, could that provincialism of Temerin compared to Novi Sad be overcome? Could that be organized? What’s the organization of local events here like anyway?
A: Well, they don’t happen very often as far as I know. OK, maybe that’s a marketing problem. I usually hear about some events only through other people. I don’t see posters anywhere. But, I don’t know, there are some exhibitions at the Center for Culture and Information, there are some presentations at the theater hall. So, there are some things. Of course, there aren’t many, but people organize things in different ways, but I think that marketing was always a problem, how to reach people. While I was at the Youth Office, I volunteered there, I mean I’m still a volunteer, we had that problem – how to attract people. We had a lot of activities at the Office and in the center, everywhere, but whether it reached people or not, or they just heard about it, it just passed by their heads and they forget, I don’t know. But I think people are trying, the ones who’re doing something, they’re trying to make something. Now, whether someone will come to see that or not…
Q: Tell me, while you worked at the Youth Office…
A: Well, I didn’t work, I volunteered.
Q: Yes, while you volunteered, how did you feel in that setting? Did you all face any problems? Did young people really come to you with specific questions?
A: So, I’ll first answer about how I felt. It was great for me there. I joined the office right after I graduated from the university, when I finished that last year of lectures, and when I had some free time while I was writing my graduation paper it’s then that I joined them. So, I’ve found, I’ve met many people there and that was really great and I was glad to go there and I still keep in touch with many of those people. Now, some of my experiences while I was there… while I was active, we really had a lot of those entertaining and educational activities and all that. But in my experience it’s a limited number of people who used to come there, it was always the same people, and I think it was hard for us to reach new people. So, if someone never stopped by, if they weren’t interested, we weren’t able to drag them there in any way. So, people who came to one event would come to the others too. So that circle of people who came to our activities was always approximately the same. We offered different possibilities for entertainment and for education, and we were helping people with gaining some skills. I mean, for example, we had educational preparation for a job interview, writing CVs, we did a lot of things like that. There were also drawing, painting, crafts workshops. As I remember there were more participants at those activities, it’s obviously more attractive to them, a bit more entertaining. People came to us with questions. There was, there still is, a little library. People were coming to rent books. They were getting informed about the universities, I think they used to come at the end of high school to ask for our help in choosing a university, courses, getting information about universities. I mean, there was a plan, whether it came true or not I don’t know, for some university students to join, to talk about universities, what they do at their universities. So, it was… I know it was, people came with questions and I believe we always tried to help them and that they’ve found what they needed.
Q: OK. Could you tell me, since it’s partially connected to your profession, how do you think you could’ve gotten more people involved with your group and what’s in general an easier way to get people to join certain organizations or to give someone a chance, no matter if it’s an individual or a group?
A: How we could have attracted more people?
Q: Yes. Not as a correction of your work, don’t get me wrong, how can we in general give people a chance to give us a chance in any kind of situation?
A: Well, yes, I understand. That’s pretty much what I said about my personal experience. I believe that the best advertisement is from mouth to mouth, when I tell you and I ask you to bring someone, and you find a friend, and they’re like ‘Hey, something’s going on there. Will you join me?’ I think that way works the best, that we attracted most people like that. So, we tell people who came ‘Come on, bring someone’, and then someone comes and says ‘Wow, it’s so great here. Why didn’t I come earlier?’ Then next time they bring… I mean, there were cases like that too. So I believe that’s the most efficient way to attract people in a community like this. Now, as I said, that was a limited number. It wasn’t so many people, but I know they came through friends. I think that’s the best way. As I said, we’ve also put up posters and all that, but…
Q: But still, from ear to eat is the best.
A: I believe that’s the best way to attract people. I know that they visited schools when they did some projects, they advertised it at schools, they gave a presentation and all that, but don’t take my word for it, I believe that they didn’t succeed in attracting many people.
Q: It’s hard to open doors.
A: Well, it’s hard, it’s hard, but there’s another thing if I may say. It might be a curse of small communities, since this is a small community, and then people already have an opinion about some things without knowing anything about those things. So, the youth offices are then… I hear some stories, some opinions that have nothing to do with reality, but it’s a very ugly image which is completely untrue, but people have that image about it and I know that’s why some people don’t come. I say ‘But, people, it’s not…’ ‘No, no, I know. I’ve never been there, but I’ve heard.’ Many people were guided by that. They had a wrong impression about the Youth Office and that’s why they wouldn’t come.
Q: How could that kind of misunderstanding be overcome in your opinion?
A: Yes, that’s a great question. Well, first of all through education, going public, some kind of promotion, but in the end it all comes down to from mouth to mouth, to how someone who came and saw presents us further, right. So, I always tried to spread the word about my experience there. I mean, my experience was really wonderful. And that’s what I tell other people. And when I’m in some company, I tell them ‘People, it’s great there. Come and see. If you don’t like it, leave. No one is forcing you, right?’ I truly believe that’s the best way in a small community like this one, when people who visit and who like it spread the word and say ‘Hey, there’s something great there’ or ‘There’s something we can learn there, something good we can do’. Any other way… As I said, they visited schools and made presentations, but it didn’t bare much fruit.
Q: Since these questions are somewhat connected, could you tell us whether we learn more by what we’re told or through examples?
A: Through personal examples or what?
Q: Well, based on what we see. Based on what’s shown to us. For example, if we’re learning something from our parents, is the point in what they tell us or in what they show us through their behavior?
A: Yes. Well, that’s interesting. I mean, we learn both ways. Now, I don’t know, there are people who might favor one mode of learning or who prefer the things they see, maybe that will suit them better than someone telling them things. So, it probably depends on the person. But, I mean, we learn both ways, through examples when we see someone do something, but also when we’re told something. Now whether someone who receives that information will… how they’ll receive it, whether they’ll believe it or they’ll question it, that depends on the person.
Q: Of course. On how someone will personally react.
A: Well, yes. I mean, yes, you said it well; it is connected to this, when someone tells you something or when you see it. It depends, as I said, someone who hears some kind of information trusts it completely and they don’t want to change their mind because that’s what they heard. There are people like that.
Q: Thank you. Could you tell me how do people form prejudices in your opinion?
A: How do people form prejudices? Well, prejudices are mainly formed because people… I mean, they first receive an information, usually from someone older, if we’re talking about kids they usually hear their parents’ opinion, and then they don’t even try to recognize the object of prejudices, another group of people, nation or something. And then if you don’t know something, you don’t know how it is and what they’re like, so you’ll mostly believe anything you hear on the side if your basic information is negative. And you’ll say, I don’t know, they are ugly, they are rude, they are… And every time you hear more and more of that without actually getting to know them, there’s nothing to break prejudices and it’s just reinforcing itself. So, I think it comes from someone telling you something, and then you don’t try to get to know something and that’s how prejudices are formed, out of not knowing the object of prejudices.
Q: What do you think prejudices are based on? Are they based on not understanding or fear or some personal drive for isolation?
A: Well, I kind of believe that there is some kind of fear in all of that. Whether it’s conscious or latent, I don’t know, but I think that in many people there’s always some kind of fear of diversity and some people try to overcome it, to get to know new things, new cultures, new people, and some people don’t have that kind of consciousness and don’t want to overcome it, instead they just feed that fear and they defend themselves by building fences that separate them from the objects of their fear and then they build prejudices and…
Q: OK. Sorry, I’m switching topics too much now coz I have a bunch of questions in my head.
A: Feel free.
Q: I would like us to address a certain number of them. Could you tell me what causes the aggression in people in your opinion?
A: What do I think causes the aggression?
Q: Is that a matter of character or something learned? The level of self-confidence in people? Whether they have it or not? Simply put, what’s your general opinion about that?
A: Well, aggression… That’s actually a very good question. I wrote a paper on that subject when I was at the university. I was addressing it from the aspect of social learning. About how we learn to behave from others. But, what causes aggression? Well, I mean, it’s never just one thing, of course, it’s a set of things. First of all it depends on the personal character. I’m saying that as a psychologist. So, personal character, the way we experience the world, the way we see ourselves, and that’s where that story about self-confidence and fear and all that comes into play, it all basically influences our behavior. Now, personal character is built in interaction of our genetic predispositions and the surrounding we grow up in. Taking that into consideration, what causes the aggression? Well, as I said, it’s mainly the personal character. And it’s very not only stupid, but also dangerous what many uniformed people do when they point their finger at one factor and they say, I don’t know, the movies are causing the aggression or, I don’t know, video games are causing the aggression or… That’s just looking for an escape goat or whatever the expression is. That’s a simplification and it’s actually easier for people to change something on the outside than to change themselves, so they assign blame for their children’s aggression. Well, it’s not movies’ fault the children are aggressive. The children are, if I may say… the way we treat them, the way we teach them, is the main reason why children are or aren’t aggressive, not the movies. So, it mainly comes from within, from the way someone is formed as a person.
Q: Do you think there’s enough children at the playgrounds or that there might be a lack of them? What could be the cause if there’s a lack of them or if there’s too many of them?
A: Well, first of all I’ve got to tell you one thing that was so sweet and I couldn’t believe it. I have a friend who has a daughter and she told me like ‘There’s my daughter playing marbles with her friends.’ And I was like ’What?’ ‘She’s playing marbles in the yard.’ Well, I said ‘You’re kidding me.’ She said ‘No, seriously, marbles.’ I said ‘Good for her. I didn’t know kids were still playing with marbles.’ Yes, they’re playing with marbles. Well, I see children at the playgrounds, I mean as I’m passing by. I see them play. Whether there are too little or a lot of them I can’t say, I don’t know, but they’re still playing at the playgrounds. It’s not true what they say that children are nowhere to be found. They are. Now, I don’t know how much time they spend there. But they play, they play football… I have a friend whose son is always playing football. I mean, he plays with the computer too, but he’s also playing football and riding a bike and all that. So there are kids outside. I mean, it’s always better if there are more of them, but they can’t really be outside all the time either, play outside. So I don’t think that’s such a big problem as they’re trying to paint it to the public. But again I must point out, I know a very limited area, so I can’t claim anything. It’s not like I’m moving around a lot to be able to claim it, but in my personal experience there are children, they’re playing.
Q: OK. Since you didn’t grow up here, you didn’t spend your puberty here, nor your adolescence, so i can only ask you whether you have witnessed some situations of aggressive, problematic nature in Temerin? They didn’t have to involve you. You could’ve been just an observer. Or something you maybe just heard of. Or it didn’t reach you at all?
A: Well, I was in such situations where I grew up. So, not in Temerin, but it doesn’t matter. But yes, I’ve witnessed it in Temerin… I mean, I didn’t witness it as a participant, but as an observer, but it happened a couple of times when I went out with friends here to some coffee shops. A couple of times some boys fought, started a fistfight, but I’m not really sure what was the cause… I think it’s usually under the influence of alcohol, and then they find a reason to fight. But that’s the only occasion when I saw some aggression first hand.
Q: Could you tell me if you personally had any such experience, since you’re not from around here, since you came from another country?
A: Well, not in Temerin. Not in Serbia. I’ve experienced that a lot where I came from.
Q: And… You can answer if you want, of course. How did you feel in that situation? Was there a way to overcome it? Do you think there’s a way to overcome such problems related to some kind of national identity or the lack of it in someone’s head?
A: Well, the times I grew up in were very difficult in Croatia. It was a postwar period, when that model was reintegrated in Croatia and all that, and there was no will of the system to deal with it, so it wasn’t dealt with. To be honest, I felt… I was scared, I was constantly scared and I was running and all that, but you couldn’t always escape. Sometimes they would catch you and beat you up. I mean, it’s true. Luckily I didn’t have so many problems, since I was very good at running, I have to admit, but some of my friends weren’t.
A: Well, yes, I was. What can I say? I’m not very brave, I never fought, I’m not like that. I was into reading and philosophy and stupid things like that. I’m kidding, not philosophy, but I wasn’t into those fights and stupid things, but some of my friends were, they were getting into fights every day. (They laugh.) Well, they were. I’m laughing now, now it’s funny to us who’ve been through it, but those few years, so ’97-8-9, 2000 were very hard for us there and I was constantly afraid. I mean, that period was harder on me than the war period that I’ve also spent there. So, it was very hard and I can say it’s very fortunate it was overcome where I came from. How was it overcome? Well, coexistence. As I said when we talked about prejudices, we were forced to live together there and to go to the same schools and to go to the same kindergartens and to go out to the same coffee shops. In time you simply realize, I mean those who caused problem on their side and those who caused problems on our side, that we’re all people, that we’re all flesh and blood, and somehow it was overcome. I’m so glad there are no more problems of that nature over there, but those few years were very rough.
Q: Do you think kids over there think differently now, that they no longer have…?
A: Where I’m from?
A: Or here?
Q: Could be here, could be there. In any kind of situation. In any area that had such problems.
A: What I find interesting, since it’s the topic I was addressing in my graduation paper, I’m pleasantly surprised by the developments at where I’m from since I believe there are no more such divisions between kids. Everyone’s hanging out together over there, everything’s OK. On the other hand, there are always a lot of divisions in Temerin which I find to be awful. There was a very good film, some guys made it, about the coexistence of Hungarians and Serbs, and someone said ‘We don’t live together here, but next to each other’, something like that. And that’s the impression I got too, which is terrible. So, basically, I think the situation here is still bad, while it’s better over there, there’s no such problems over there anymore, while children are still quite divided here. I don’t want to get into the reasons why it is the way it is. I have a few ideas about the cause of it and I think I’m on the right track, but I don’t want to talk about it.
Q: You don’t have to, of course. But since you know a lot about it and you’ve spent a part of your life here, do you think there is a way or that it’s possible to maybe find a way to resolve that situation?
A: To resolve it?
A: Yes, absolutely, there is a way. There is no will. There is no will. I mean, there is no political will, to be honest. I mean, there is no political will to resolve it because this situation suits both sides, but there is a way, a very simple way. It was actually done over there where I’m from. If you watched carefully, I already said what the problem is, and I said what the solution is. So there is a way, absolutely, there’s just no will.
Q: Thank you very much for this conversation.