The desire to learn about Serbian culture, customs and language gathered foreigners from all over the world at the National and University Library of Republika Srpska.
The life journey brought them to Banja Luka, and the city captivated them with the natural beauty, the richness of the spirit of its inhabitants and their hospitality. He brought Russian Natalia Avdonin from Moscow eight years ago to Banja Luka. He says that this is a paradise for the Russians.
– We love Serbs and Serbian culture. I am employed by the Russian Cultural Center. I like the climate here, there are many warm and sunny days throughout the year. It is 18 degrees in December, unlike Moscow, where the fat is minus – Avdonina said.
Three years ago, Fabio Kazula, an Italian, came to Belgium from Banja Luka.
– My wife is from Republika Srpska, but coming to Banja Luka was my idea. My Belgium friends couldn’t believe how beautiful life was here. It can be seen that people are not rich, but they are happy with what they have, unlike Westerners – Fabio said, adding that he especially likes to go to “slava” (Serbian Orthodox tradition of the veneration and observance of the family’s patron saint. Every Serbian family has its own patron saint that they celebrate on the feast day).
He is particularly pleased that the people of RS are striving to preserve language, script and tradition.
– We don’t have that in Belgium anymore. That’s why I love your slava, the Serbian Orthodox Church, and that’s why I switched to Orthodoxy. It’s strange to me here that people live in the moment. When they want to hang out, they call for coffee at that moment, and in the West it is planned for a certain date – said Kazula.
Love also brought Brazil’s Ana Roberta Maric to Banja Luka eight years ago.
– My husband and I met in America and decided to continue our lives here. What I like most is that I feel safe here. At any time of day and night, I can walk freely, without thinking if anyone will attack me. This is not the case in my hometown – said Ana Roberta, adding that it was difficult for her to get used to the climate, which is much harsher than Brazil. He says that Banja Luka residents are as happy, moody and communicative as people in Brazil and that he loves eating musaka ( an eggplant or potato-based dish, often including ground meat) the most.
– I am happy to learn a lot about the Serbian people and their culture through the workshop. I teach my children Portuguese to know my language as well – said Marić.
The workshop is also visited by Deniz Sanchez from Colombia, who has been in Banja Luka for eight months and is trying to learn Serbian as best she can to get a job.
Jelena Janjić, the leader of the Serbian language workshop, said that working with these people is an invaluable experience.
– Seven librarians are involved in the project, and we hold classes for free, twice a week. Thanks to them, we look at our own culture differently because they have shown us the benefits of living here. The hardest thing for them is to master the cases and letters Ć, Đ, Č and Š and when they say it, they sound very nice – said Janjić.
Project Coordinator Ognjenka Savanović said that the idea of the workshop came about after a professional internship in Paris, where she observed activities in the libraries there.
– This workshop was missing from our city. Participants are from all over the world, from Greece, Poland, Russia, USA, Belgium, Brazil, Colombia, Uruguay. Some live here with family, and some are part-time, connected to work or study – said Savanović.