Dobro veče. A few weeks ago I applied to a conference called "Confronting the past dealing with the future" which consists of a three-day bout of workshops, discussions, and lectures about the conflict between Serbia and Kosovo. There will be 50 delegates (myself included though I hardly feel worthy of that title) from Serbia and Kosovo which basically means a mixture of Serbs and Albanians and the occasional Hawaiian who are associated with an NGO one way or another. Actually the application said that you had to be from Serbia or Kosovo but in my application I explained my situation in an addendum to the 'why do you want to attend this conference' prompt, and I guess it was good enough because I received an email bearing acceptance!
I haven't actually met anyone from Kosovo or Albania yet so meeting them and hearing their side of the debate (and life story) will be fascinating. Most everyone in Serbia cannot tolerate talk of the Serbs' history with and in Kosovo but at this conference I should be exposed to the other side of the coin. And another neat thing about this conference is that it's on Fruska Gora, the pretty mountains about 25 kilometers from Novi Sad, and everything is arranged for the three days of the conference: a hotel room, all meals, the access to the pool which is especially exciting because I haven't been in water since Hawaii (and because it's indoors and heated). Although (this is a tangent) there's been nothing to complain about weather-wise this November because last week we had a beautiful spell of heat and it got to the 70s a couple of days, and even now it's in the 50s which is an anomaly according to the locals. There's actually a term for it miholjsko leto which means extended summer. Back to the conference: I can only participate in the first two thirds of the conference since we're going to Belgrade on Sunday. Speaking of which, this is our first big excursion that includes a week staying in the pedestrian zone of Belgrade and going to museums, lectures, organizations, shows (we're seeing Grease in Serbian! good time to be a musical buff), and other cultural attractions the capital of Serbia has to offer. And on our last night in Belgrade we are seeing the premiere of the seventh Harry Potter!!! Which has our whole group really excited. Embarrassingly so. And though Ceca has informed us that people don't dress up for movies as they do in America, we are determined to perform mock duels and wear our lightening bolts with pride. So many tangents in this entry I apologize! Back to the conference part two: I'm most excited to learn and discuss the current issues and their roots and possible resolutions. And I'll be sure to let you know what I learned!
Prijatan dan! <-- I just learned this yesterday, it means 'have a good day' which I often say in English as a parting sentiment so now it has found its way into my daily Serbian phrases along with dobar dan = good day/hello, kako si = how are you, polako molim = speak slower please, odlično = excellent (reaction to every meal), soon followed by ja sam se najala = I am full.