N – 1991 – Sirig
Student of MA pedagogy at the Faculty of Philosophy in Novi Sad. From November 2014 she worked as an intern and since the beginning of 2015 as an associate psychologist at the nursery school Veljko Vlahovic in Temerin.
Q: What does it feel like or how would you describe life in Sirig?
A: Well, considering that there’s not many national minorities in Sirig, so we’re mostly Serbs, it’s usually quiet, there are no conflicts so to say, it’s quite peaceful. Everybody knows each other since it’s a small town. I find it pleasant to live there. Everything’s close – the town, Temerin, I mean Novi Sad and Temerin are close. And I kind of basically like it. I mean, it’s not bad. I’m only sorry there are no different cultures, so there’s nothing new for me to learn. We’re all Serbs, so we know it all more or less.
Q: And what do you like the most? I’ve never been to Sirig. Tell me how it is. What would you recommend to me, for example, where to go or what to see?
A: Yes. Considering that it’s a small town, I mean a village, the only thing I would recommend, which is a bit unusual, is this new settlement in Sirig where the refugees live. I mean, all the houses are literally the same and those are all refugees. And it’s constantly being renovated and something new is constantly being made. It’s at the end of the village, next to the fields and nature, so that’s something I would recommend to everyone to go and see because it’s kind of… it’s not common for our village because it’s a bit separated from it, I mean from the center, so it’s kind of something I would recommend. Because I live in the center, so I don’t have a chance to go there very often, to that other part, so every time I do go there’s always something new happening.
Q: You mentioned there are no national minorities in Sirig and so. And have you ever been in contact with someone, maybe during your schooling or something…? Could you describe to us some situation or communication with some national minorities? What’s your opinion?
A: Yes. Well, since I’m at the university, I mean I studies pedagogy, we had many Hungarian colleagues, we were all girls there. Well, for example, my best friend from the university is Hungarian and I kind of learned a lot about their culture through her and she learned a lot about mine. And I taught her to write Cyrillic. And, for example, I find that interesting, now she always writes her courses in her student ID in Cyrillic. Because they don’t really know Cyrillic, so she learned it. And she told me a lot about their customs. I find that very interesting, to learn something new, so I was mostly hanging out with them. She’s kind of one of my best friends.
Q: And what made the strongest impression of the things you’ve learned about Hungarian…? What was the greatest similarity, and on the other hand the greatest difference between the two cultures that you were in contact with?
A: Well, I found it… Since she has a younger brother and she keeps telling me about their custom of the First Communion or whatever the name is, and that was pretty unusual for me to see her little dress and the things they wore to church. We don’t have that, for example. And it was unusual when she was telling me about some of their wedding customs. That was also unusual because we don’t have that. Other than that, the places they go out to are pretty different, the music is different. She took me to the clubs in Novi Sad that they go to. I think our two cultures are very different. I mean there are similarities, but there are not many religious similarities because I think there’s also a lot of differences. So, I learned many things, and that was very nice.
Q: What do you think… For example, if you thought about the future or about the past, could you tell us something about the coexistence of different cultures? So, how it might have been in the past? What do you think it was like in the past? Or maybe not so far back, but something that you remember. What’s the situation now and what do you think the future will be like or how would you like it to be in the future?
A: I think, at least when our municipality is concerned, since we’re a part of the Municipality of Temerin, that in the past and now in the present there’s a lot of bigotry between let’s say Serbs and Hungarians, since there’s not a lot of Roma people around here. And somehow I feel it will only grow. And I’ve heard many of my friends planning to leave Temerin specifically for that reason, because they don’t feel comfortable here and someone’s always attacking them or they’re attacking someone, and there are always some conflicts. I’m sorry about that. I would like it if we could all be together and hang out together, regardless of the nationality or stuff like that. But personally I think there’ll be less and less of them here and that we’ll somehow separate completely so that everyone would live their own life.
Q: And how do you find out about such incidents? Actually, I don’t know what kind of incident those are. What’s going on? If you could give us an example. And how do you find out that something happened?
A: Well, it’s mostly fistfights here. Hungarian guys and Serbian guys. And how do I find out? Well, it’s published in Temerin newspapers, I hear it through friends, when they go out there are fights, mostly some insults, humiliation. I mean, Temerin is a small town, you hear and find out everything, so I mostly hear it from my friends. I don’t know, this and that guy got into a fight or something like that.
Q: Have you ever found yourself in a situation in which, let’s say, you were a minority? That you’re from Serbia, for example, and you went on a trip, so other people were the majority.
A: Well, yes, it happened to me when I went to Budapest, for example. It happened then that I was a minority, since we were on our high school graduation trip, but it was 10 of us, and so many of them. And it happened when I was in Italy. I was a minority there too, since Italians don’t speak much of English, and I don’t speak much of Italian. And it happened to me when I was in Greece. I was a minority then too, since I went to Kavos and there are a lot of English people there and we were… the five of us were a real minority. And, I don’t know, it wasn’t pleasant. I mean, it was mostly unpleasant because of the language because I can maybe understand English, maybe even a bit of Italian, but it was most unpleasant in Budapest because I don’t understand Hungarian at all and they speak so fast and the language is so difficult and I couldn’t understand a word and that was the only time it was really unpleasant. I really felt like a minority in the store, on the street, at the hotel and wherever I went I was a minority.
Q: And how did you feel? If you could describe it to me. I mean, were you confused, insecure, or what?
A: Well, I felt kind of rejected, to be honest, because… I felt like I don’t belong there. So, like I fell there and now it’s where I am. And I didn’t feel accepted and I was insecure. I kept asking myself if they’re maybe talking about me or… I mean, I couldn’t understand what they were talking about, so I felt uncomfortable in their presence. And simply I felt rejected.
Q: What do you think when do feel like we don’t belong, and when do we feel like we do belong?
A: Well, I feel I belong when I find myself surrounded by people like me, when we have many things to talk about and when we simply understand each other and when we add to each other’s story. And I feel like I don’t belong when it’s the opposite, when I feel like a minority or when I can’t find a common ground with someone, regardless of whether we speak the same language. Even if we speak Serbian, it doesn’t matter. Simply when we don’t understand each other and when I’m talking about one thing, and the other person about another, and then I simply feel like I don’t belong with that person.
Q: And if we think about it in terms of national minorities and those conflicts, what do you think how does it start? It that something individual that turns into something collective or not?
A: Well, I think that, as far as Temerin is concerned, it probably used to be individual before, but that now it grew into something collective. I mean collective on both sides, collective on Hungarian side and collective on Serbian side. At least that’s what I think. And that it’s somehow turned into a bigger problem, problem of the whole municipality, not just of some individuals or some smaller groups, let’s say, and that it’s now kind of a big, big collective problem at least in our municipality.
Q: And what do you think is the reason for such conflicts, because you mentioned it sort of used to be the same in the past?
Q: Why do you think such things happen?
A: Well, personally I think that people are not used to diversity and that people are pretty intolerant to other people. And they’re not ready to get to know other people and to simply give other people a chance to show that we’re all more or less the same regardless of culture. And I think if someone’s different we tend to discard them automatically. I mean, we don’t give them a chance to prove that they’re something else. And, simply put, I personally believe that people don’t think much about their own actions, but they see someone act in a certain way and they all just follow their lead. And that’s basically the biggest problem, not knowing the people but just creating divisions automatically and there’s no friendships nor going out together nor socializing, and then automatically there’s not understanding either because that’s how we’re growing up. It’s instilled into people from a very young age and then we simply learn to live like that and when we grow up it’s very hard to change such attitudes.
Q: You were talking about your friend from the university who is from Hungary. I mean, not from Hungary. She lives here, right?
Q: Where you brought up that way, since you mentioned it, or did you manage to find a way to surpass it, to realize? What was the deciding moment?
A: Well, for example, I have been brought up like that, since my aunt is married to a Hungarian, so it was normal to me to, I don’t know, celebrate two Easters, two Christmases, for us to visit them, for them to visit us. And that was simply normal to me. I mean, my family was brought up that way, we grew up in such a setting that none of it is strange to me and it’s very difficult for me to understand that someone can’t respect that, but maybe it’s because other people had no chance to be surrounded by such people, so they probably see it differently. Because, I mean, she’s my friend, and even though she speaks Serbian but has a bit of a Hungarian accent, it doesn’t bother me at all and I don’t think it’s wrong that she doesn’t know the cases, gender of the nouns and such things, while other people make fun of it a lot, and I’m used to it because my uncle is Hungarian, so… I mean, I’m used to it. I simply grew up in such a surrounding.
Q: And you said that people don’t like differences. What do you think why don’t they like differences? I mean, what is that thing in a person that’s causing them to be repulsed by the things that are different?
A: Well, personally, since I’m a pedagogue, I believe the main, central problem is family, that is to say home upbringing is such that we’re not taught as a let’s say nation how to accept the differences and to accept some other people, and I don’t mean just national minorities, it might be a disabled person or whatever, any person that’s different, and we instantly feel repulsed by someone being different, we think there’s something wrong with them. I mean, since they’re different then us they’re not good enough for us. And I strongly believe that it’s a problem of the family and a problem of home upbringing, because we learn such things from a very young age. So if we taught the children since they’re little that we’re all equal, that we should respect each other, I believe there would be far less problems because the children would simply be taught to react differently and it would all simply be normal later that we’re different, but we live together.
 These would be Bosnian and Croation refugees