... was what friends and strangers back home in America would ask when I told them I would be moving to the Balkan country. To the confusion on their faces, I half-jokingly responded, "That's why." Because the truth is, like many Americans, I simply did not know much about Serbia. For those of us unfamiliar with the Balkans, what we do know of Serbia often begins and ends with the violent events of the 90s. Americans who remembered the Yugoslav Wars would ask me if the country was now safe for foreign travelers, while my peers wondered about more banal matters, like what Serbians looked like or what language they spoke.
Meanwhile, Serbians listen to Dave Brubeck and Kendrick Lamar, crack jokes about the NSA, learn Native American history in school, organize Star Wars conventions, and are happy to share their opinions on "SJW"s, President Trump, and hipsters.
While Serbians' understanding of America continues to grow and change, for many Americans the dominant story of Serbia centers on events almost 20 years old. This is problematic. As the Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie reminds us, "[a] single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story."
Stories from Serbia aims to resist this tendency by sharing many and varied stories from this complex and complicated land. My hope is that this project will enable individuals to learn about Serbia not through news headlines and famous figures, but through the ordinary women and men who call this place home. These are stories shared by Serbians, in their own words, about their own lives and country. My gratitude goes to them for sharing, and to you for listening.
If you are a Serbian with a story to share, I'd love to hear from you. Please get in touch through the Contact page.