J – 1990 – Temerin
Graduated in 2014 from the Faculty of Philosophy with an MA Psychology. Worked as an intern at the nursery school Veljko Vlahovic in Temerin as an associate psychologist. She volunteered in the NGO Parents-Temerin and in the Youth Office of Temerin. Born in Sarajevo, she moved to Kikinda (Serbia) when she was 2 years old and and since 10 years she is living in Temerin.
Q: First question would be do you live in Temerin?
A: I live in Temerin, yes.
Q: Were you born here?
A: Not born. We moved to Temerin about 10 years ago.
Q: And where did you come from, if I may ask?
A: Well, to Temerin from Kikinda, and to Kikinda from Sarajevo. Since I was born in Sarajevo.
Q: You were born in Sarajevo?
Q: Could you tell me, since you finished your studies, do you have a job right now or are you looking for one?
A: Well, first I need to pass my intern’s exam after one year, so I’m an intern now, and then I’ll look for a job when I’m done with this.
Q: When you’re in a position to do so. Could you tell me about your childhood, even though you didn’t spend it here? What was it like?
A: Well, I think I had a normal childhood. Although I’ve spent it without my dad till I was six, later with my dad, brother, he was born when I was a kid and so on. Well, I don’t know, it was happy I guess.
Q: I may not form the question properly at some point. Sorry about that. I hope we won’t misunderstand each other because of that.
A: You may ask that sub-question.
Q: How old were you when you came here?
A: To Temerin?
A: Well, I just started high school, so about 14.
Q: Fourteen years old. Could you tell me whether your childhood in Temerin or in Kikinda was different than the one in Sarajevo before you came here?
A: Well, I left Sarajevo when I was two years old, so I don’t remember. And then I lived in Kikinda for about 10 years, and now in Temerin for 10 years. Well, I don’t know, I can’t compare coz I was at a different age. I mean, I was growing up half in Kikinda, half here, but… Well, it was different because Kikinda is a town, almost a town. Temerin is smaller and I wasn’t used to a smaller community, so it was a bit hard to get used to everybody knowing everything, everyone going everywhere and things like that. It’s somehow different when there are more people.
Q: Were you bothered by those habits of the people in a smaller community? I guess what you said about everyone knowing everything. Does that change your behavior then or it just took you some time to get to know people better?
A: Well, no, not my behavior. I behave as I do, of course. It didn’t bother me. I mean, I simply got used to it, I accepted it as it is and it didn’t bother me. What can you do, every town is different in its own…
Q: OK. Could you tell me, in your opinion, since you lived in one town, then another town, you studied in the third, do you think there are enough young people?
A: In Temerin?
A: Well, there are enough young people. Compared to other towns in Serbia, there are a lot of young people here. I think that’s because the city is near, a big city.
Q: Do you think it’s interesting enough for them to spend their lives here in Temerin or would they move someplace else?
A: Well, I think it’s interesting in Temerin because it has everything young people and families could need.
Q: OK. And tell me, considering that you moved between countries, Serbia and Bosnia and Croatia, we were at war… Considering that there are some national tensions, did you have any problems since you… maybe just because you moved around? It doesn’t have to be about anything else.
A: Well, yes, I had a lot of problems in Kikinda. I mean, my family and the refugees in general during those years, because a lot of people moved to Kikinda and I believe also to Temerin. OK, I’m talking about Kikinda now. They kept calling me a refugee, a Bosnian and such names. It wasn’t my fault at all, but people saw it that way, especially the kids and they were especially jealous if you succeeded in anything. And then they’re surprised coz you are a refugee, bad things happened to you, and you still achieved something in life, so they ask themselves if you did it in some shady way. It was all very interesting. Here I didn’t feel it that much. Now I don’t know, years passed, and people seem to have forgotten or it’s, I don’t know, a different setting. But it was very obvious in Kikinda, that bigotry towards…
Q: Thank you for sharing this with me first because I know it was honest, so thank you for that, and then because I have a pretty good idea what it was like since I was born in Croatia. I moved to Sremska Mitrovica and had some similar experiences. I’m glad you’re in Temerin. Since you mentioned those misunderstandings, could you tell me, since it’s partially related to your profession, if you stayed in Kikinda or any current or future period of your life, do you think there is a way to overcome that sort of misunderstanding between people?
A: Well, I don’t know. I haven’t thought about it much. I think the situation calmed down a bit now because a lot of time has passed. I don’t think it’s as strong as it was back then. So I think there might not be a need to overcome some misunderstandings.
Q: OK. But what I’m thinking about is basically some prejudices people form. I could give you examples that cross my mind, but I wouldn’t like to get too much into detail. People can have prejudices about us from the moment they see us, because of the clothes we wear, because of the music we listen to, because of the haircut on our heads. They can also have prejudices based on nationality and our religion and anything you could think of. It seems it’s our tendency as human beings to do that. How do you think that amount of prejudices and that extent of lack of understanding is formed? Is there a way to overcome it and, if there is, how would you solve that kind of situation if you found yourself in one?
A: Well, let’s start at the beginning.
Q: Deal. (They laugh.)
A: What was the first question? The first one was how do we form prejudices. Well, I think that’s connected to creating identity, because it’s very difficult today to be a Serb, for example. At least that’s the way I see it. Because everyone wants to be a Hungarian, everyone wants to be a Croat and everyone wants to be a Bosnian, but no one wants to be a Serb. And then poor Serbs have a desire to say ‘Hey, it’s great to be a Serb’ and that might be the reason we form prejudices about other people. I think that’s the reason. Everyone somehow has the right to be who they are, and we’re somehow… it’s never good to be that. But I don’t see what’s wrong with that. I think that’s how people think, that that’s the reason prejudices are formed.
Q: You think that it suits people better if they belong to some other parts, minorities, to declare themselves like that?
A: Well, I don’t know, maybe because they get more attention. Fine, OK, I know they get more attention because you have to support minorities too, they’re not on their own grounds, but on the other hand the ones who are on their own grounds should be able to say ‘Well, OK, let’s have respect for both’. What was the second question?
Q: Finding common grounds. The second question was is there maybe a way to overcome that? If you found yourself in a situation, it doesn’t have to be about nationality, simply… You’ll have a family tomorrow, how would you explain that to your child?
A: Well, I don’t know, I always believe that you should love your own and respect the others. I mean we should be proud of who we are, of having red hair, but respect those who have, I don’t know, black hair or… I mean, it’s their own business, their taste, there right to be there. I mean, as long as you don’t threaten other people.
Q: How would you feel, if it’s even possible to answer this question, if you had no feeling of ethnicity in a multinational surrounding?
A: Well, it’s possible. I felt it last summer. My grandmother and grandfather lived in Bosansko Grahovo, that’s in Crni Lug. I mean, that’s… I don’t know if You know where it is… In Bosnia, next to Livno. And mostly Croats and Serbs and a few Muslims live in that part of Bosnia. And my grandparents had Muslim and Croatian friends, and we’re Serbs, and we were all hanging out together last summer. And, I don’t know, we visited the Muslims, they made us coffee, they taught us how to make their pies, I mean their way since it’s all different. Again, we made barbecue with Croats, we danced kolo with Croats. You couldn’t feel it at all. I mean, I don’t know, I was conscious that they were Croats, Catholics, Muslims, but there was no barrier. It wasn’t an obstacle at that moment for people to hang out together and have a good time. I keep telling everyone about it. It was a very beautiful experience in my life. It was great.
Q: That’s nice.
A: Pure example.
Q: Pure example of how it could be.
A: Well, yes.
Q: And that it feels good.
A: We were playing former Yugoslavia. (They laugh.)
Q: That’s excellent. When it comes to people, so we could close this topic in a way, who cause misunderstanding and who generate them, who might be too aggressive in it, do you think personal character can be changed? Not only whether you think so, but also if you do, what would be the way to do it, to change people’s minds?
A: Well, I don’t believe personal character can be changed, but minds definitely can be. Consciousness and attitudes, the way we think about things. Prejudices are also formed by people thinking in a certain way they were taught to think. Now, when it comes to people who have such strong prejudices that they are willing to hurt people, their way of thinking should simply be redirected and they should be given alternatives. The alternatives that will help them as well to function and think better and to reduce the frequency of those undesired incidents and things like that.
Q: Do you think education, not formal education, not school, but educating people about that could be the decisive factor?
A: Well, education and some new experiences that will show them another way of thinking and another kind of solution, another perspective on things.
Q: Since you mentioned examples, my next question is whether you think we learn more through words or examples?
A: Well, I think through examples, though experiences. It depends on a person, but I think it’s better to learn through examples and experience, to simply experience something. But mainly by putting ourselves in shoes of the person we have prejudices about, for example, to see how they feel in their own skin when we have prejudices about them.
Q: That would actually mean it would be necessary to expand the understanding of the same situation in order to overcome a bunch of problems we face.
A: Well, yes. Especially those problems in interpersonal relationships.
Q: Thank you. I’ll try to move on to a new question. Why do people isolate themselves in certain communities? They could do that on their own or in groups. If it’s on their own, it’s usually some kind of a personal story. If it’s in groups, what is the cause in your opinion? Those groups can be positive, can be negative, but what causes that sort of grouping among people of similar or not so similar way of thinking?
A: I mean, I see this whole conversation a bit from the perspective of my profession. Well, I don’t know, because they simply want to belong to a group. I mean, that’s why they form groups. But, I don’t know, they form groups based on their opinion and again prejudices. If they have bad prejudices, I believe they’ll form bad groups.
Q: And, in your opinion, do they gain more or lose more by joining groups?
A: Well, it depends on the group and its nature, on what they do in a group and so on. It depends on why they joined the group. I mean, I don’t know.
Q: Yes, on the nature of self-determination.
A: Yes. It all depends.
Q: OK. Besides that, I’d like to ask you something else, but connected to that. How could we allow people to maybe find their own identity outside of a group?
A: Excuse me? (They laugh.) I didn’t quite understand.
Q: No problem. Since we have people who join groups, and that can be good or it can be bad, but regardless of that… You mentioned identity in the beginning. How could we give people a chance, young people in this case, adolescents who still haven’t reached adulthood, to independently form their own identities? That they don’t have to do it though groups, but to find their own way bit by bit.
A: Well, I don’t think that’s possible because we’re social creatures, we simply function in groups and we’re not made to function on our own. As the identity of a child is first developed through family, though socialization, the life of an adolescent develops though groups and socializing with their peers, so I don’t really think it’s possible to teach them to develop as individuals independent of the society. I don’t think that’s possible. Now I don’t know if it’s possible to do it through a group, though something… I think that they can start being individuals when they leave adolescence. It’s a bit unrealistic before then.
Q: For them to take that path.
A: Well, yes.
Q: OK. How can people understand each other better?
A: Well, simply through conversation, by sharing experiences and, I don’t know, by socializing, by not isolating themselves. The more they isolate themselves, the less they’ll understand. And the more they’re not open to understand each other, the more divided they’ll be. I don’t know, I mean, everyone has prejudices, those who isolate themselves especially and those outside the group as well. Everybody has prejudices.
Q: Yes, everyone has their own actions and their own principles.
A: Yes, and attitudes.
Q: Which situations led you to the principles that guide you in life?
A: Just a second. (They laugh.) Well, for example, recently… I’ll go one by one, as it comes to me. For example, when I finished the marathon of Fruška Gora that’s 32km long. I said to myself if I survived this, I can survive anything. Yes, it was very hard. My whole body was aching for a week, but that was one of the turning points in my life. When I enrolled at the university, I was 45th out of 250 people, that was a great success. Then, I don’t know, when I finished high school. When my brother was born, since I was already a big girl when he was born, eight years old. And, I don’t know, things like that. When I got my yellow belt in aikido. And when I graduated, of course, that was a success I mean.
Q: Do you think you’ll reflect on those moments next time there’s a turning point, that you’ll remember all the things you’ve been through? Like some sort of a leitmotif.
A: Yes, of course. Whenever I’m having a hard time, I remember that marathon and I say to myself ‘You can do this, really’. (They laugh.) Sincerely.
Q: OK. Could you just tell me for the end or near the end…
A: It’s already over? I had such a nice time.
Q: For the near end. Do you think this is your home?
A: Is this my home? Well, I believe so. Because my family is here, my friends are here. I don’t know. Although, I don’t really have that ‘home’ feeling because I’ve moved a lot in my life and I simply don’t have roots anywhere. But for now my roots have grown the most here, so let’s say it is.
Q: What do you think, since you say you’ve moved a lot and you don’t have that feeling, what should your home consist of?
A: My home? Well, family and some friends. Yes, I mean, to have a place… When I let my roots grow somewhere, I guess that will be my home. When I settle down.
Q: Take it slow. You’ve got time. (They laugh.) OK. When you find yourself in a scary situation, how do you react? With a deficit or an excess of energy?
A: Well, somehow when I’m scared, I always stop, think about what to do next, how, and then… I mean, I always have a surplus of energy when I’m scared. I guess I’m preparing to react. I never sit down and get depressed and ask myself now what.
Q: Since you’re a psychologist, if you would get a job here, even if it’s to teach at school…
A: That would be great. (She laughs.)
Q: That would be great. I know. (She laughs.) It doesn’t matter whether you’d be the school psychologist or teach. What would be the most beautiful way to provoke them to be creative if they were doing something that really inspires them, not something assigned by school?
A: Well, I don’t know, just let their imagination drive them and let them do things based on their own feeling. I think that’s most important.
Q: OK. And I’ll ask whether you have a dream that would be OK to fulfill here? It could be your own dream or a dream with your family or a dream with your neighbors or…
A: A dream about Temerin?
Q: Yes. It can be connected to your family, it can be connected to anything.
A: When it comes to Temerin, my current dream is to get a job. I have no other dreams. A dream like any other. My first priority is getting a job. Later probably to make a family. That’s my dream. I mean, I also have a dream for Temerin, for Temerin to get a spa resort.
Q: Of course. You missed that part, sorry.
A: That would be great.
Q: I would like to ask you something else, something personal, and it’s connected to Temerin. Since you spend a big part of your life here after all, did you ever witness any problematic situations, assaults verbal or physical? Did you ever witness such situations that weren’t caused by alcohol or something, by pure rage?
Q: You haven’t? That’s great.
A: No, I haven’t.
Q: That’s great. There’s a talk, among other things, about some conflicts that existed, maybe today, maybe five years ago, maybe 20 years ago. It’s nice to hear you haven’t witnessed any of them and I hope that means such conflicts will stop at some point.
A: Well, we try.