“One thing that surprised me was the lack of anti-Americanism. I think that to a degree it still exists, especially after hearing that people blame specifically the Americans for the NATO bombings, but on a person-to-person basis it didn’t seem overly prevalent. I expected it to be much more abrasive and overt, but was pleasantly surprised that most people we talked to seemed interested in getting to know us and our culture.” Kate Huddleston “I was going off a Hollywood perception of Eastern Europe. It is more modernized than I expected, I wasn’t sure how it would recover after the ‘90s. Belgrade is Westernized and Americanized in terms of the music, clothing, and DVDs. I pictured it to be similar to the rural areas and the one way roads we saw outside the city.”- Jessica Cygan “Truthfully, I expected a country more stuck in the past in terms of clothes and cars. But I have been pleasantly surprised except when I saw ladies rooms consisting of holes in the floors, and then I wasn’t too pleased.”- Anna Jones What were your initial reactions?
“My expectations for this trip were to gain a better understanding of the Balkan history especially pertaining to the 90s conflict. I have visited most of Western and Central Europe, but never the Balkans, so it was a chance for me to get to know a culture heavily influenced by Eastern and Western European cultures. I wanted to understand the mindset of a people who had recently been through a horrific war and gained worldwide attention for it.”- Pierce Roberts “I was surprised at how safe my experience here has been. There has not been a single situation where I felt like I was endangered. For such a large city, I felt just as safe here as I would around Clemson.”- Tori Jones “I mostly enjoyed the Opera and the ballet. I had never been to a ballet before and I found it very enjoyable even though I could not understand the language it was still a beautiful performance and experience.”- Allie Argoe
“ Kosovo is going to be at the very least, if not a road block, a gap that needs to be bridged before Serbia is considered a modernized country. Many Serbians are suck in the past, they don’t forgot something that happened 500 years ago- never mind 50 years ago. ” –Will Richmond “I think that it is very true what people say that trying to learn about the Balkans only further complicates your opinions. While I expected the corruption, to come face to face or at least to hear about it on such a personal level, was pretty unreal.” -Kate Huddleston “Institutional reform is essential. Not just proclaimed, written, paper reform, but real changes within structures. Citizens deserve a government that truly works for their needs and not just political interests.” –Jessica Cygan What reforms need to happen?
“I would without a doubt say that I found the meeting in Serbrenica, Bosnia to be the most interesting. It was heartbreaking to see a place where hope has all but almost been lost. Meetings like this really impact your life and put things into perspective.” –Tori Jones “It has been enlightening discovering the difficulty of changing a country from a communist perspective to a democratic way of life. This process takes time, especially as a country battles to control its corruption, nationalism, and tycoons.”- Pierce Roberts
What is the best direction Serbia should take toward the future? Are they ready to become an EU member? “Besides joining the EU, I believe the best direction for Serbia would be to change to a representative system closer to that of the USA, work harder toward ending corruption, and make international trade easier and more enticing for investors.”- Stevan Novakovic “I do not believe that they are currently ready, but hopefully, in time, they will take the necessary steps to membership.”- Tori Jones “Serbia absolutely needs to join the EU. That being said, unwavering no for membership as the situation is right now: low unemployment, reforms are not implemented, no strong public consensus, and most support it for overnight reform. The expectations are too high.” Will Richmond
“Absolutely not. I agree with NGOs who feel that granting Serbia candidate status now will encourage the current government to continue their policy of bare minimum change in their drive to the EU. Reforms need to actually have political will and an attempt to change society in shape as well as in name. That really isn’t happening, and the EU should not reward superficial fluff.”- Jack Merwin “I think that the best direction for Serbia is to continue on the path towards the European Union. That being said, I think that the pace needs to be slowed. In my opinion they need to build up their institutions and most importantly, actually implement the bills and institutions that they do have, as that seemed to be a sticking point”. -Kate Huddleston
Which aspect of the program did you most enjoy? “I really liked that we had a majority of evenings free so that we had an opportunity to experience the city’s nightlife. I also feel like we were afforded the opportunity to encounter the places we visited not only from the perspective of tourists, but also on a more first hand basis because of all the people we met, and I think that was a very unique experience.” Kate Huddleston “I enjoyed learning a lot about foreign policy, in general just listening to diplomats, paying attention to their words and actions. Eventually that is the profession I want to get involved in.” Will Richmond “ Experiencing the culture firsthand. I love the cities we traveled to because they still have elements of their roots and history that can be felt.” Jessica Cygan “I enjoyed the time we got to spend with Professor Matic. He is so knowledgeable and it is interesting to hear from someone who worked in the government and has seen first hand to evolution of the country.”- Anna Jones
“I would without a doubt say that I found the meeting in Serbrenica, Bosnia to be the most interesting. It was heartbreaking to see a place where hope has all but almost been lost. Meetings like this really impact your life and put things into perspective.”- Tori Jones “It has been enlightening discovering the difficulty of changing a country from a communist perspective to a democratic way of life. This process takes time, especially as a country battles to control its corruption, nationalism, and tycoons.”-Pierce Roberts “Traveling. Sarajevo, Montenegro, the sights and such. That was what made the trip for me.”- Jack Merwin
“Makes me recognize how fortunate we are. I am proud to have functioning government, we have never experienced unfathomable inflation, and hold good employment compared to the Balkan region.” –Will Richmond “Overall, truly eye opening experience that made me realize how blessed I am to be American.”- Anna Jones “I thought that the human rights and ethnic violence portion was really fascinating. I would comment though, that it is all so integrally tied together, EU integration, Kosovo, nationalism, they all relate, so I guess I enjoyed it all!” –Kate Huddleston “ A new appreciation for democracy. I don’t think I will ever forget one conversation I had with a student from Belgrade. Currently, he has no faith in his government and sees no promising future in potential upcoming political leaders. Our domestic issues in the US seem so small.” –Jessica Cygan What will you take from this experience?