S – 1995 – Novi Becej
Finished high school for landscape architecture in Novi Sad and started studying Scene architecture, technique and design at the Faculty of Technical Sciences.
Q: So, you currently live in Novi Sad.
Q: And how long have you lived in Novi Bečej?
A: I was born in Novi Bečej, I finished elementary school there, I went to high school in Novi Sad and I’ve been living there since then.
Q: So both Novi Sad and Novi Bečej, apart from being Novi, are somewhat multicultural and multinational communities, towns. What’s it like to live in such an environment?
A: Well, I think that in Novi Bečej, although it’s smaller, people are much more reasonable and I think they accept different people and people of other nationalities more easily. In Novi Sad, ok, as they say Novi Sad is a big village, but people are somehow far more limited. I expected much more from Novi Sad, that people will be in a better mood for some other things, for some different, well, I don’t know… I don’t even know how to describe it.
Q: And what makes you think that they’re more closed towards that multiculturalism than in Bečej?
A: Well, I went to high school there and again I think everybody more or less knows each other in Novi Bečej and then there’s no big barrier, whether you’re Roma or Hungarian od a Serb, it doesn’t matter. There are some kind of barriers that somehow define you, there are prejudices about people, it’s like I’m less educated or know less if I came from a village or a smaller community. That’s the impression I got during high school.
Q: Do you think that national minorities are generally… what’s the status of national minorities in Vojvodina?
A: Well, the story is that they’re endangered. But I don’t know, Roma people are getting more and more rights. Honestly, I like Roma culture very much. I have few Roma friends and they came here to study, I mean it’s not a problem, but then again you have that part of Roma people who still act like their rights are threatened, like they didn’t get some rights, and I believe they have. Then again there are those who will judge you based on the color of your skin, your looks, your nationality, it will always be like that no matter what rights they get, what rights we have.
Q: In what kind of behavior we can see that there’s that kind of judgment?
A: I think they can cause that too. I have one friend who is Roma, but I believe they didn’t judge him that much because he somehow managed to fit in with the crew. He came and finished medical high school, got enrolled at the Medical University. He’s basically a good person and I don’t think there is that difference then. Yet again, if a member of national minority or anyone starts that kind of a discussion, they started it themselves, they led someone to judge them as a national minority.
Q: And where does identity come from?
A: I think it basically comes from family. Parents basically form you in their own way, they slowly form your personality, and later when you get to a certain age you start finding yourself, creating your own personality. And that’s it. I think the greatest influence comes from upbringing.
Q: Could you make some correlation between the things we inherit and the things we build ourselves when it comes to forming person’s identity?
A: The things you inherit from your parents have a great influence, but again it depends on the personality whether you’ll let your parents form you completely or you’ll say at some point: I want to be my own person now and to form myself my own way. I think it’s crucial that we form our own personality, that that’s more important. Though the upbringing and the family conditions are very important too. If you have a strong personality you can get out if something’s not right.
Q: Where do prejudices come from?
A: Also from family. I think everything comes from family, depending on what your parents are like, whether they let you… whether they fill your head with prejudices from the start or, I mean, it’s normal that each of us has some prejudices. That’s very normal. It’s just a matter of how you’ll deal with it and whether you’ll let them consume you completely.
Q: Could prejudices be broken somehow?
A: Well, they can be. I also have prejudices when I see someone. It’s not OK to have prejudices based on someone’s appearance, but that person will often surprise you. And when you get to know someone, you should always give people a chance.
Q: How can we affect the deconstruction of other people’s prejudices?
A: I don’t know to what extent we can, but mostly through conversation maybe. Like, let them get to know you. That’s it.
Q: Do you have any neighbors of other nationalities?
A: I do. We all do in Novi Bečej.
Q: What is your relationship like?
A: In the beginning, while we were all little, since Novi Bečej is a small town, we were all hanging out. Now it all depends. I had a lot of Hungarian friends. I still do. I have no prejudices towards them. It just depends on where life takes you. I don’t hang out with them anymore. I do with some. We were all hanging out and playing together when we were kids.
Q: Are there situations and conflicts that we put into a national context even though they originate from something completely different?
A: I didn’t really understand.
Q: I was inspired by what you said about not losing touch because of your backgrounds but because of where life took you and your interests, so now I’m interested in what other situations people lose touch or get into conflicts that are natural, and then people put them into a national context?
A: I don’t even think about it that way. When I lose touch with someone it has nothing to do with nationality. It has to do with interests, maybe. For example, my best friend left. We didn’t have any common interests, we were friends since childhood. We’re like brother and sister. He went far away because of his career. There’s nothing I can do about that. Nor will l hate him for it, nor will I be jealous or something like that. I won’t let it fall apart. I’ll see him when I see him.
Q: How do you react to media reports on minorities in Vojvodina?
A: Basically whatever the media releases might not be true, it can have a counter effect like someone’s taking pity on minorities, and in reality it has a counter effect. They might even provoke the same minority they’re trying to give rights to, because they’re not really doing it right…
Q: And what would be the right way to do something?
A: To give rights to minorities or for the media?
Q: Both. Whatever inspires you more.
A: Maybe they should make more of these workshops, to develop tolerance. There is no need for media when it comes to minorities because I have no interest in reading about it. I do my best to be tolerant. I won’t let anyone step all over me or something like that, but I’ll be tolerant and I’ll give everyone a chance. Why not. We’re basically all different, regardless of anything.
Q: You said that it’s different in Novi Sad, where you live, than in Novi Bečej, and that you believe people are less open to minorities, that you feel like a minority there sometimes too.
Q: How should people from Novi Sad behave in order for that feeling to change?
A: They should stop perceiving themselves as hosts, just because they’re from Novi Sad. Maybe they should be a bit more tolerant towards other people who come here, and I believe they didn’t show themselves in the best light. They’re like they conquered it and it’s theirs now. Like they’re stubborn. I didn’t make many friends in Novi Sad. Mostly when I meet someone and keep hanging out with them it turns out that they’re from someplace else. They’re full of prejudices, but what I just said is also prejudices. Not everyone’s like that.
Q: I guess it’s hard to be politically correct.
Q: And to everyone. Are there maybe some kind of events or activities that can be open to everyone? That we’re not already doing? Is there something in Vojvodina, in your town, in your surroundings, that’s more accessible to one group and less accessible to another?
A: There always is. It can be accessible to whomever, but the difference is always being made. I always move in tighter circles because I prefer a more intimate atmosphere. There is no barrier, people chose where they want to go, what they want to do. There’s always more available clubs, some kind of manifestations and what not for the majority in towns, like we have the Dormition of the Mother of God in Novi Bečej, it’s the patron saint celebration of Novi Bečej accessible to the majority, not just to me. I don’t like it, so I won’t go, but there is a minority.
Q: And what makes something accessible to everyone? What makes that Dormition of the Mother of God or any other cultural event accessible to everyone?
A: For everyone to hang out together, to be in the same place, regardless of music… There’s no rule who can attend, and who can’t, we choose for ourselves where we’ll be and what we’ll do and with whom.
Q: Where can we hear the experiences of minorities?
A: Basically everywhere. You mean like some kind of a public space or whatever? Well, you can hear it everywhere if you run into a minority. I can hear a friend who’s been counted with the minority, although he doesn’t feel like that. I believe he doesn’t feel that way because we all accepted him and that’s not an issue. You can hear it in the street, in conversations, you can hear the experiences of minorities anywhere, if you find yourself somewhere by accident.
Q: And how can we confirm how people feel?
A: Well, we can’t really.
Q: We can’t confirm. We can only believe what somebody said. How many national minorities are there in Vojvodina?
A: Only in Vojvodina?
Q: Or in your town. How many minorities in your surroundings are you aware of? Give me a number or the amount.
A: I don’t know if Hungarians are considered a minority or not. I mean, I don’t count them as a minority because there are almost half of them I think. The Albanians, that’s three already. I don’t know, people are coming from China, so they might be a minority. They call them the minorities, but I don’t see them as a minority because we basically let them come, why not? They can come.
Q: What is a minority then?
A: Well, it’s a term and a fact that they are a minority, it’s just that a lot of people see it as an insult, like minorities should either be eliminated or given more and more rights. Why wouldn’t we all have the same rights? I mean, no one should have more if we all live in the same town and we all live in the same country, we all have the same rights, why not?! There’s a lot of talk about minorities, and it always comes up that minorities don’t have enough rights, and the minorities this, and the minorities that. As far as I’m concerned, I would give them all rights. I’ll accept them as well.
Q: And what are the rights we all have?
A: I guess we all have the same rights to socialize, to go out, to live well, to go to school, although when we talk about school, there are again differences in terms of minorities that they have an advantage because an image has been created about them.
Q: What kind of advantages?
A: Well, the advantage of getting a dormitory room, of getting enrolled at the university first. I know that about Roma people. But the ones that want to enroll should be given the advantage as far as I’m concerned, if they can’t afford it. They should get the dorm and… Yet again, our educational system is one big mafia…
Q: What is heritage?
A: Heritage? Heritage is something we get from our family. Heritage can be spiritual and material and genetic. I don’t really know how to define it. Heritage… is something we get without asking for it.
Q: How would you describe your culture to someone who never had contact with it, keeping the politics and all that aside…?
A: If I set aside all prejudices people have about us, I would say… I think we’re very emotional, very connected to our surroundings and family, and when foreigners come we welcome them. When I think back to places I visited, people are not so close there, not so… We’re not just about work-home, home-work, we’re also having fun and socializing. I think we’re much closer as a nation than the others, that we’re warm, regardless of all the other prejudices and if…
Q: And what are those prejudices?
A: That we’re poor, that we’re maybe very vulgar, uncivilized, that we’re dirty, that we don’t speak English for example. That’s one of the prejudices I heard while I was in Switzerland for a two week exchange with ‘Isidora’. The Belarus and us were talking about our prejudices and the first thing they said was that Serbs don’t speak English, but it turned out that we do better than them.
Q: How do you react when you face prejudices?
A: I might have a need to prove they’re untrue. Not like to spite anyone, but if I can correct someone’s prejudices, why wouldn’t I? Because I don’t like when people judge each other based on anything, whether it’s culture, appearance, music they listen to, the way they talk or anything else.
Q: Is there something useful or positive about prejudices?
A: Probably yes. Now, I don’t know… Well, I don’t know. I can’t think of anything.
Q: I think I can stop bothering you now. And is there something about this subject you feel inspired to say and that I haven’t asked you?
A: I think there should be more workshops like this, and not just in Temerin, anywhere. There’s probably some in Novi Sad that I haven’t heard of. They should promote it a bit, so people would hear about it and really be willing and ready to take part in something like that. I think that’s one of the ways to resolve everything.
Q: And how could we motivate people to take part in projects like this in your opinion?
A: Well, I don’t know. Maybe if it was organized as a part of some kind of manifestation, with some music performers and some plays and then to put in the workshops within the whole day program, like some kind of a mini festival. That might attract people, or not, I don’t know. I wanted to help, why not.