August 1, 2013

When Serb calls Croat or Bosnian “Brother!”

Neither our difficult history, nor various problems did stop 40 young men from Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Kosovo from spending 7 unforgettable days in a camp “Veli Jože” in Savudrija, Istria at the Croatian seaside.

At the beginning it sounds uncommon and inconsistent that a Serb calls a Croat or a Bosnian “brother”, but I think that today young people don’t want to live in the past. I think that we shouldn’t forget, but we can live a normal life only by understanding and respecting each other.

There are lots of stereotypes and prejudices among the people and it was a great pleasure to prove them all wrong. Before going to Croatia they told me “What do you want in Croatia?” I heard stories from my parents that Croatian seaside is one of the most beautiful in Mediterranean and I wanted to see it myself. In the end, it was worth it.

10 young people from Serbia from Belgrade, Kragujevac, Kikinda and Blac started their trip to the camp on the 8th of July from Belgrade towards Zagreb. After arriving at the main train station, we met the participants from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Kosovo and continued the trip to the camp “Veli Jože”. When we arrived, we were divided into five teams. Each team had its’ name and colour. I became a member of blue Roadrunners. We were eight in each bungalow. I shared my room with Uroš Radulović from Belgrade, who was our team leader, Haris Čapelj from Sarajevo, Danilo Stankić from Kikinda, Anerio Uljanić and Romeo Armani from Zagreb, Robert Pušić from Mostar and Аnte Rušić from Split. During the next days, through different activities, we became a team and started to rely on each other, we bonded, though we might not have been aware of it from the start.

Morning hours at the camp were dedicated to leadership workshops, where we learned a lot about what a real leader should be, what are the characteristics and values of a leader, as well as about leadership skills, which we developed. We also practised public presentations and solving conflicts within the team. Participants of this camp were selected from local “Be a man” clubs, so knowledge and skills gained during the workshops will be a great advantage in managing those clubs, organising their crew as good as possible, designing and implementing their ideas for public campaigns that promote values of the project and through that spread “Be a man” message. Things we learned during these workshops can have a great meaning for our personal development, no matter what we will do in our future life.

”This regional camp is something every our peer would like go through and participate. A lot of boys that are always ready to help, laugh and learn something new, who came from all the counties in the Balkan, spent 7 inspiring and fun days. Apart lectures about leadership, during which we learned what does it mean to be a leader, how to be a leader, features of the leader, we also travelled, visited fascinating Pula, and charming Brijune. Naturally, we took as much time as possible to socialising and having fun, which can be confirmed by all the positive commentaries, new friendships, photos and video recordings. I personally would love to go though it again and recommend everybody to use that opportunity” said Haris Čapelj from Sarajevo.

During our stay at the camp we participated in two excursions. First one was a visit to Pula. It is a dynamic, touristic town of shipbuilding, winery and fishing. We were most impressed by the Pula Arena. It is a building that dominates the space and one of the most important preserved monuments of Roman architecture in the world. The same day we also went to Brijune, which is an island where Titos’ residence once was.

The second excursion was a visit to an adrenaline park. The best thing in the park is an enormous swing that gets you up about 20 meters in the air and you have a 15 meter free-fall. What an adrenaline shock! We also played some team games there, one of which was finding “the lost treasure”. Solving various puzzles brought us closer to our goal. My team reached the treasure first, which was in the sea! It was a parcel full of chocolate, which we shared with the other teams.

The thing I value most, are the friendships that were built and the barriers that have been overcome. We became a real team, one unit, which was, what I think, the goal and the purpose of the camp – that we overcome prejudices and stereotypes, together exchange out thoughts and experiences and become leaders.

Author: Dejan Spasić
Participant of the regional camp

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