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Connecting Lives, Sharing Cultures





New connetions Ivanjica and Moliterno

Exchange students speaking: It’s new year and I am in Serbia This experience is worth gold Sawasdsee krap, Thailand

In November 2011 about twenty students from Ivanjica High School participated in a class exchange program: Serbian students were hosted by “Petruccelli” school from Moliterno in the south of Italy and a month later, in January 2012, eighteen students from Moliterno spent ten days in Ivanjica with students they had hosted.

IN THIS ISSUE: Exchange students speaking: Huan Hose Silvestro Levand , Alina Maklakova, Miloš Stanojević page It hepenned in Serbia: Jelena Opricić , Marija Karaklajić page

Volunteers Tijana Anić Jovana Josiović page

Class Exchange Dona Karmenović page

Interkultura’s presentations Tamara Milošević, Tijana Anić, Bojana Ilić, Svetlana Kovačev page


EDUCATIONAL GOALS OF INTERKULTURA/AFS EXCHANGE PROGRAMMES Ivana Gazikalović-Pavlović While deciding which country to choose for their exchange program, high-school students often daydream about an exotic country, travelling, days and nights of fun, or the love of their life which they expect to experience. If it occurs to them that they will be learning something during their exchange experience, they may think of the language of the host country, perhaps a new dance or sport which they have not done before. When they read all the information on Interkultura’s web site and the web sites of other AFS organizations, they begin to recognize the words and phrases such as: culture, non-formal

education, intercultural learning, global issues, skills needed for the life in the modern world, but they do not quite get what these words have to do with what they are getting ready for. Not many of them are aware that the exchange programme is not a school break, summer holiday and all fun. Interkultura is an educational organization and, even though exchange program participants are required to attend school regularly, gaining academic knowledge is not the main goal of this program. By living in a new environment, under continual supervision

and support of experienced AFS volunteers, the student becomes familiar with the culture of the host country and learns about it. He thus develops his own cultural competences and builds a solid foundation for the future – for his academic career, work or simply as a responsible citizen in a globalized world.

There are four main goals of Interkultura/AFS exchange programs: There are four main goals of Interkultura/AFS exchange programs: 1. Personal values and skills: As a result of their experiences, participants learn to turn difficult situations into valuable opportunities for personal growth. They are challenged to reassess their values, stretch their capacities and practice new life skills while gaining awareness of previously hidden aspects of their own personalities. 2. Interpersonal relationshipbuilding: AFS participants become fully involved in daily living and working arrangements with a variety of people in the new environment, which are transferable to many other settings during the partici-

pant’s lifetime. 3. (Inter)cultural knowledge and sensitivity: The AFS exchange experience deepens participants’ insights into their home culture as well as their knowledge of their host (or visiting) cultures—both strengths and weaknesses—from the perspective of an outsider. 4. Global issues awareness: AFS participants become able to empathize with their hosts’ perspective on some of these problems, and thus to appreciate that workable solutions must be culturally sensitive, not merely chronologically feasible. In order to offer the students a successful experience, AFS has developed a support sys-


tem in which trained volunteers guide the student and the host family step-by-step through the program. In this process, the student acquires ways of intercultural communication and gets the opportunity to apply the acquired knowledge during the exchange program. While new learning opportunities open up, the volunteers encourage the student to reflect on his/ her experience.This approach encourages participants to embark on journeys of personal growth, and gives them the education and experience to become responsible members of the global community.


It’s New Year and I’m in Serbia Juan Jose Silvero Lavand

The night of the New Year I thought I would cry. I was a little sad because it would be the first New Year without my family and my friends, and the customs here in Serbia are completely different from those in Paraguay. In Paraguay you must be with your family on the New Years Eve, and here in Serbia with your friends. First, I didn’t know what to do, because I had a lot of invitations, and I had to take only one. In the end I chose to be with some friends and my brother, my sister went with her friends and my parents with their friends. We went to a friend of mine, it was very exciting and I won’t forget those moments!

We had dinner before 10 o’clock, and at 00:00 the New Year was there! I went to the balcony and screamed: “It is New Year, and I’m in Serbia, my best year!” I was really happy. I experimented in a way I don’t think I will experiment again. What I experiences will be in my heart for ever. This is the best thing that ever happened to me, and I won’t forget it.My host-mom


called me to say happy New Year, that was really sweet, and I was very happy for that! It’s something I can’t put in words, you think about your home, your family, friends and your country, but at the same time you enjoy every moment, every second, because you know that things like happen only once in a lifetime!


I have never been in Serbia before. In the pictures, it seemed to be a beautiful country, but in reality it turned out to be even more beautiful. At first I did not understand the people around me, so we had to communicate with gestures or in Russian. But when you listen to another language day and night, you have to learn it quickly. Two weeks after my arrival in Serbia, I was able to speak sentences in Serbian. It turns out that it is not difficult, you just have to try. Here I found new friends and family, with whom

I feel comfortable. Of course I miss Russia, but this experience is worth gold. Serbia has interesting customs and traditions that do not exist in Russia. A particularly interesting event is the “slava” in which relatives and friends gather to talk, have fun, and of course eat cakes. I participated in preparing the slava Sveti Arangel which is celebrated in my Serbian family. I found preparing grain the most interesting thing. And it is also interesting to watch how the cake is being turned, cut, and sprinkled with red wine.


About Thailand. Thailand-an amazing country. Full of life, friendly, kind people, good food, energy. Meeting point for many cultures and nations. A place where Mai pen rai is a lifestyle, which means: Don’t worry,everything is going to be allright.

About the culture. Apart from Mai pen rai, I have to emphasise that in Thai culture there is no “no”. There never was. People say that it’s not polite to use this word. However, if it is really neccessery to say “no”, they simply say Mai Chai, which


I am very happy that I learned the customs of Serbia and I hope that I will never forget them, and cannot wait to tell these experiences in person to my friends in Russia.

means no, yes. About the people. People are definitely the best part of this society. The most positive, the happiest, full of liveliness ,positive energy. Always ready to help. Whenever you go out on a street, especially if you are foreigner, you’ll be asked-where are you going? Even if you’re left with nothing, there’s no person who won’t give you money for transport and food. On the other hand, there is one thing that leaves nobody indifferent. In Thailand you can find more than four registered genders. Do not try calling ladyboys “he”,

they may be offended. Or yet a tomcat “she”. And then there are those who don’t care what gender they are, like transvestites. It may sound a bit strange and frightening, but after a month living in Thailand, no appearance nor people profiles will be unknown to you. But as Thais say: “Mai pen rai”. No matter what gender you are, wherever you are, everybody will help you. About the food. Maybe the most important aspect of this community. They will ask you during meals “Aroi mai?” which means “Does it taste well?” Sometimes I don’t even finish my meal or it gets cold, so it is not tasty. It gets worse in school. Each school has a student’s cafeteria. On average there are 4500 students who pass by daily, and 500 of them ask “Aroi mai?” And the answer should be “Aroi maak” or very, very delicious, even if it tastes bad. It is impolite to say “no” in Thai culture, because they feel offended. They will never show it, since

(My best Thai friends, Bom and Tju) they respect foreigners and consider them sacred. Thai cuisine is indeed very spicy and chilli is the symbol of this nation. Whatever you eat, you’ll get some chilli with it, which can be fatal for your stomach. So it is essential to emphasize”Without chilli, please”. Yes, I have to admit that the Thai pineapple is the best in the


world. You must try it. About the heroes and history. The most sacred person of Thais is the king. He is the leader who is appreciated and respected the most, and the one you must not talk bad things about openly. King is the head of all people, no matter what your religion is. And one of the greatest things of this country is that you can choose your religion, it is completely irrelevant. Beside the king and queen, the most significant person is the prime minister. There is one anecdote about that. For two months I have been trying to bring to light one big mystery. When Thais ask me “Where do you come from?” I answer “From Serbia”. After that comes another question “And where is Serbia?” And then I start explaining “You know, in Europe, Yugoslavia etc...” Ten seconds later, comes the question “Isn’t that next to Montenegro?” To be honest, I was astonished first 3 or 4 times. It’s like when you’re describing where Italy is, and someone asks you: “Oh, is that next

to San Marino?” But after a while, it was a perfectly rational question “Isn’t that next to Montenegro?” Eventually, I discovered that Thai prime minister Thaksin had lived in Montenegro for a long time and that he has a house there. They think of Montenegro as a beautiful and amazing country. I would like to add that the current prime minister of Thailand is Thaksin’s daughter. About the landmarks. Thailand is a country full of landmarks: wonderful palaces, castles, seas, islands, mountains. If you ever come to Thailand, you should visit Chiang Mai-city in North Thailand (I recommend night safari and flower garden) or Pucket island and the capital Bangkok on the south (king’s palace and the dream world). Also, Khon Kaen, the city I live in,

which is located in Northeastern Thailand is one of the main centres. Not far from the city is the famous dinosaur museum, one of a kind. This area is famous because dinosaurs used to live in it long, long time ago. Besides that, you have to visit Wat Nong Waeng, a temple, surely not as high as Eiffel tower, but beautiful structure. It is certainly one of the highest Buddhist temples in Thailand and in world. About life of teenagers. And most of the adults. Video games are very popular here: ipod, ipad, android and the whole cutting edge technology. Everyone’s crazy about Hello Kitty. A small digression for those who aren’t familiar: Hello Kitty is a kitty, cartoon to be more precise for persons aged 4 to 5. In Thailand most of the moms have Hello Kitty cars.

During all the festivals in a year, and they are many, you will be the main person wearing Thai national costumes. Your popularity grows and you get photos with at least 350 people a day.


Everything is Hello Kitty, from registration numbers, seats, wheels, even Hello Kitty rear view mirror. Student in school have Hello Kitty cell phones, bag packs, pencils. It is even a symbol of some schools. And I must say my best friend’s mother is the biggest Hello Kitty fan. Not only does she have a car Hello Kitty style, but her pyjama and master bed too. Vive la Hello Kitty! You are totally fake here unless you know Hello Kitty’s history, and you’ll hardly be accepted in society. Truly speaking, I used to hate Hello Kitty. It was getting on my nerves, but now even I’ve started to live the Hello Kitty style. Right after Hello Kitty, but not even close to defeat her, comes Angry Bird. I got to say, I like Angry Bird too. I am already struggling with level 16, it’s not that easy. About farang. I mean foreigners. Foreigner, or how they call it, Farang, is a sacred word. Something that is very appreciated and respected. Thais are enthusiastic about strangers, their skin fascinates them so much that it is quite normal to scream, pull their hair and ask “Sorry, may I touch your skin? It’s unbelievable.” All the products and cosmetics are based on Whitening. While we despise white skin, they crave for it. White students, who aren’t many, are the most popular and the attractive kids in school. Now you understand why Thais love strangers, alias Farang. And they’ve never heard of solarium, it is even hard to explain what it is. And now Goodbye until next time. I have to hurry up, the latest Hello Kitty episode airs now.



Students from different parts of the world gathered in cold, snowy Belgrade in order to share their experience after their first semester spent in the new country. The orientation they took part in was significant, since it brought together not only students from Serbia, but also participants from Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Belgrade hosted students from Russia, Germany, Mexico, Paraguay, Thailand and Italy, as well as their AFS volunteers from Serbia, Bosnia and Croatia. The mid-stay orientation, which lasted from Thursday, 2nd February to Sunday, 5th February, was designed for students to share their experiences from the Balkans and help each other in the process of adaptation to the new surroundings, but also to play and speak the new language. The new day began with breakfast on the 18th floor of the hotel from which one could enjoy the magnificent view of the white Belgrade. Volunteers and participants used the time to talk about

the new culture, cultural differences, as well as their moods, feelings and impressions during their stay in the host countries. Then, they continued socializing in the snow, making snowballs and snow angels. For some of them it was the first time to see the snow. While Friday was dedicated to past events, Saturday was focused on future plans and goals. The students talked about overcoming the problems, they made a todo list they intend to complete by the end of the stay, and engaged in a project on How to Survive in the Balkans in which they left useful advice to the future generations of exchange students so as


to help them assimilate into their new environment.The whole orientation was spiced up with a small party. The exchange students seized the opportunity to demonstrate their singing skills of the song “Moji su drugovi�, that they learned during a workshop, but they also danced kolo, the Serbian traditional dance, to the utter surprise of all. By organising this party Interkultura also wanted to congratulate Sebastian Rauber, an exchange student from Germany, whose birthday took place during the orientation. We wish him and all the other exchange students all the best during the rest of their stay in Serbia!

A WEEKEND WITH TAMBURAŠI Marija Karaklajic AFS weekend in Sombor lasted from November 24th till November 27th 2011. However, those four days have passed very quickly… Fun started Thursday evening when, after meeting and settling with our host families, we started to get to know Sombor in a real way – listening to tamburaši. On Friday exchange students joined their hosts in high school Veljko Petrovicenjoying the great attention they got from many the students and teachers that. We spent the afternoon having the presentation about Interkultura, and after that students got to know their hosts and newfound friends through some interesting games. Evening was, of course, reserved for going out and having great time at a typical Serbian tavern, where the students had the opportunity to enjoy great Serbian music. Saturday was reserved for getting to know the cultural side of Sombor, which had been enabled by our volunteer Teodora Littvay. We visited Županija, theatre and the museum and learned a lot of new and interesting things about Sombor, its residents, history and architecture. In the afternoon students have been solving the quiz about Sombor thereby showing their knowledge of the Serbian language and using all the infor-

mation about Sombor that they had learned during those three days. They did all of that while running through streets of Sombor… It was a great way to get warmed up on that cold November evening. After that we were interviewed by a journalist from the daily newspaper and she was delighted with the exchange student, their knowledge of the Serbian language and how much they were in love with Serbia. In the evening our hosts and friends surprised us with going to the bowling club, where we had great time, not thinking for a minute about the cold outside or the fact that ‘’goodbye’’ was approaching so fast… Sunday morning was a bit sad because we had to say goodbye


to our friends. Those four days weren’t nearly enough and all of us wanted to stay a few days longe. We are so grateful to all of our host families for taking us in, they were great and took care of us like of their own. We’re looking forward to seeing our lovely hosts and all amazing people we’d met there!



V O L UN T E E R cheerful and amused by the ideas of these creative people. Unlike many others, Interkultura appreciates its volunteers; it takes care of them and develops their minds. Because of all these reasons I became an Interkultura’s volunteer.

“You are a commodity; the more you know, the bigger price you will be sold at the labor market”. It is a sentence I hear at least once a month during my lectures, and as time goes by, it is always more painful to hear it. People have become commodities. And in such surroundings, a young organization was established, as quiet as a provincial student who enters the high society of the capital city, and contradicts it with her principles and potential, an organization the commodity-people aren’t aware of, but high-school students who dream about new adventures while they are filling out the application forms, or excited families who are expecting the unknown. That is the spirit of Serbia that Interkultura is trying to convey - on one hand there is ambitiousness and adaptability, and on the other there are openness and broad-mindedness. Volunteers are the link between everything Interkultura does. Committed young people who don’t think they are commodities, who don’t expect to be given money in return for helping someone, successfully fulfill every task and yet they are not tired. Every time after a meeting, I come home

Jovana Josipović

I first heard about Interkultura on a workshop about non-formal education, from volunteers who had already been on a year programme abroad as exchange students. In becoming a volunteer myself, I saw the opportunity to meet new people, develop communication skills, use my knowledge of foreign language and learn about different cultures, while doing something useful for others. In this short time that I have been a volunteer, I have had a chance to present this organization to my own school. The experience was valuable to me because I have had the opportunity to develop my communication skills. I am under the impression that people in Interkultura are positive, organized, efficient and innovative, and I’m looking forward to our further cooperation.

Tijana Anić


New connections: Ivanjica and Moliterno CLASS EXCHANGE Dona Kremenoviћ In November 2011 about twenty students from Ivanjica High School participated in a class exchange program: Serbian students were hosted by “Petruccelli” school from Moliterno in the south of Italy and a month later, in January 2012, eighteen students from Moliterno spent ten days in Ivanjica with students they had hosted. Italy: We were welcomed at the airport in Rome and then drove further south. First we had a day off to rest from the journey and enjoy the company of the families that hosted us. Later we all together went to school and after the welcome speech we saw a short movie about Moliterno that our hosts made for us. In the next days we visited Potenza and Matera, other Italian towns, and were convinced that Matera is the only place in the world where people can say that they live in houses built by their ancestors 9000 years ago, as someone wrote it in an article. The day before leaving was a Saturday and a school day and the last Sunday we spent with families in the early Christmas atmosphere. We then also visited Maratea, a town on the cost of Tyrrhenian Sea and although the weather was pretty bad, we decided to have a walk and meet this beautiful town. In the evening of the same day it was time to say goodbye to our hosts and their families, and also to all the teachers who participated in this class exchange. Serbian students received a Letter of Thanks from the Italian hosts as well as books about

Moliterno. Before departing, we were also grateful to see and talk to Marco Tosi from the Italian AFS, who came to see us and hear our first impressions about the exchange. Serbia: Italian guests were welcomed at “Nikola Tesla” airport in Belgrade and they spent the first day with Interkultura’s volunteers, two students from Ivanjica High school and an exchange student from Italy. We had ten days ahead of us to make new friends, visit as much as possible, have fun and present our culture. Already on the first day our Italian guests understood what we mean when we say that love enters through mouth, and also the meaning of the slava in our tradition. I think they will remember the slava for a long time because of the many national dishes they tasted and also because of the families who all gather on that day. We prepared a presentation about Serbia and its history for our guests and so began the week we spent together. On the next day we visited Cacak, a nearby town in Serbia, and later the local authorities invited all of the Italian students, who were then welcomed once again and invited to visit us again. Because of the snow we weren’t able to show mountain Zlatibor and monastery Studenica to our guests, which we wanted to do, but we all warmed up by playing a friendly volleyball


match: Serbia against Italy. On Friday night we organized a special goodbye dinner for, which was attended by all the Italian guests, host students, their families, school teachers and everyone who took part in organizing this project. The Italian class also received a Letter of Thanks and everything was a bit sad because we would have to part soon. On the next morning we said

final goodbyes and we knew one thing for sure: we will stay in contact. On behalf of all the students from Ivanjica High school, I would like to thank Interkultura, coordinators of this class exchange program as well as our teachers and everyone who supported us and helped us make this project possible.

INTERKULTURA’S PRESENTATIONS Interkultura is a young organization and many people are not familiar with it. We want to present Interkultura to as many schools and organizations as possible, so that everyone who wants to take part in exchange programs has an opportunity to do so. That is why the presentations we organize in many towns in Serbia are an important task at the moment

INTERKULTURA IN: LESKOVAC: Tamara Miloťević Apart from the cities in Vojvodina and central Serbia, it was time to have a presentation about Interkultura also in south, in Leskovac. Interkultura volunteers made sure to present the student exchange program the best way possible in two schools in Leskovac. Both presentations were attended by a great number of students, including members of the school parliament, as well as teachers interested in this method of learning, and thez were both covered by local media. Alina Maklakova from Russia is a student at one-year exchange program in Leskovac, so she shared her experience with other students, who had many questions, so Alina talked about her motives for going on exchange year, and advised all of them to join the program. Students were also invited to take part in planning the AFS weekend in Leskovac in May, as well as host exchange students and their host-siblings from all Serbia.


ZRENJANIN: Bojana Ilić Marie Bering is an exchange student whose every day begins in Zrenjanin instead of Germany this year. She goes to a music school, in which Interkultura was presented on November 11th last year. The last few hours before the presentation Interkultura’s volunteers spent with Marie, who was nervously repeating what she would say about herself at the presentation. She was not looking forward to speaking in front of many people, but it was easier when she saw some of her friends and teachers among the people who were watching. After the introduction and stories told by volunteers mostly about Interkultura itself and theory about exchange programs, it was Marie’s turn to say why she is in Serbia now and talk about her experience, which was the best proof why you should join exchange programs. Students and teachers had a lot of questions and the most interested ones stayed after everyone left. We hope to see some of them in Interkultura soon.

NOVI BEČEJ: Svetlana Kovačev In the middle of December, Interkultura arrived in another small town in Vojvodina. The presentation was held in the secondary school in Novi Becej which consists of different vocational schools and a High school as well. The exchange programs were presented to teachers and students and also to the reporter of the local papers who came. The students were very interested in the exchange programs, and surprised at the same time because they have never heard before of such programs of informal learning. The school principal was very kind and hospitable. He was very interested in a future cooperation and gave us some suggestions regarding scholarships for his students. As we expected, the students paid special attention to Rosendo, a Mexican exchange student, who came with Interkultura’s volunteers. They asked him a lot of questions, half in Spanish, and half in Serbian. Everyone really enjoyed in a unique opportunity to talk to someone who comes from a such exotic country.

THE FIRST BELGRADE HIGH SCHOOL: Tijana Anić Interkultura was presented in The First Belgrade High School on Thursday, December 1st 2011. The overall response to the announcement of the presentation and posters which were put up in the school was very good and lot of students, mostly second- and third-graders, attended. Interkultura volunteers had help from Sebastian, an exchange student from Germany who is spending his year in Serbia. At the beginning of our presntation it was crowded, but by the end of it only the most interested stayed. In a friendly atmosphere, they asked everything they were curious about. Even though the presentation should have lasted 45 minutes, we all stayed for more than an hour. After that some students decided to apply for exchange programs and we hope to see some of them as new volunteers.


Editor: Bojana Ilić Design: Branislav Mihajlović




InterCOOLtura news  

Edition 3, NOV/DEC/JAN/FEB 2012