Analysis of a Borderline Girl in Serbia

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It was about time I put down my reflections about what we did last summer. It`s not so easy, though writing is something I used to do daily. Before coming to Serbia , I decided to keep a diary on everything I would be doing there. Mission impossible, since our lives didn`t stop for us, didn`t wait for us to keep a record of the way we were changing, of the way we were developing, or influencing the lives of the others. It worked for the first few days, and it`s rewarding to read that now. It`s not easy now either, since there are so many things to talk about, and thoughts come randomly, and thoughts run through my head.
It`s not the best I could say about this experience, it`s not that bad either, but try as I might, words really don`t come as easy as I would like to, though dozens of pages could be filled Yet, this might not say anything to you who are reading now. What can really say something to you is what is in a name now, what Ruxandra will mean to you when you meet her one day.
I recall the words of one of my friends in Serbia: why did you come to Serbia, Ruxandra? Indeed, why did u come?
I remember when I got the call for applications. Though I knew some things about it since I was working on recent history issues, I think I never really planned to come to Serbia, it has never been on my mind, and never paid too much attention to the situation there. I think it happens sometimes with neighboring countries, that we are so fed up with all the news we hear every day that we start paying a deaf ear, even if it affects us more than the situation in other countries. Yet, I realized I would gain valuable knowledge on the turbulent Balkan history, which would be useful for future stories, enabling me to create strong characters against this background. I must admit now it was a win-win situation.
Then the answer came. You have been accepted for the volunteering programme in Serbia. I was so dizzy that I couldn`t even remember very well when I had applied for it. What it was all about. It was a time of insecurity, of doubts, of fear. I called my parents, I called my friends. I am going to Serbia. For 4 months. What I am going to do there, I don`t know exactly, the project sounds challenging , we will see. I will do it. I will just take my life into my hands and go. Make a change. In my life. And maybe in the world.
Then my life went on normally. I even forgot about it. I decided to quit my job anyway, take a break and travel through the country. I did it. I was feeling better, though still lost. Couldn`t write. Came back home, got my flight ticket, said I would go, what the hell. Volunteer in Serbia. After all, coming back to youth work. One of my teen`s dreams. Said goodbye to everyone, cried a river for my boyfriend, tried to accept reality. There was nothing worth staying in Romania for. Nothing to lose, nothing to gain. I couldn`t endure anymore my masochist love for my boyfriend whom I didn`t know if I still loved or not. I felt a bit disconnected from my family, I had quit my job and writing had quit on me. I didn`t feel like going on with the struggle. I felt powerless. So 4 months. I knew it would change me. How? I didn`t know. But I had to run, run, run, as fast as I could. My reality there was too bitter. I had to find myself again. Discover me. Analyze me. Strengthen me. Leave.
4 months have passed like one day. When looking back, I can`t believe I am here. I am home. And I wonder what home is. My friends, my family. For sure. My life. My real life. But so hard to go back to all this. Our lives there.. .were they our real lives? For 4 months I was mostly disconnected from my reality. I didn`t really keep in touch with people at home, I didn`t read news, I just cut myself off. The one who woke me up to my reality in Romania was my father, who suffered from one big surgery. I was divided between two worlds for some time and struggled with myself whether to come back or not. Be with him or be with me. Some people supported me, some people judged me. Irresponsible, ungrateful, such a bad daughter, they called me. Abandon your familiy when they needed you most. Live your life, not mine, said my father. I did. And I thank him for this.
I was in Serbia for four months, together with another 11 great guys, I should say all of us having their lives a bit fucked up. Nobody came there because he/she was having the time of his life at home. Everyone came to solve a problem. To find onself. To analyze oneself. To make a change. In his life. In the others`.
I was not sure why I was there. What my mission was. I met strange people. These guys I was leaving with for 4 months…they were all kinda strange people. We people are strange, in fact. Have inner conflicts. Too many. Project them on the others. Too much. But nothing compares to the exchange of human emotions. Every day, every person I met was a challenge, ever so rewarding. I challenged myself. I started positioning myself in all sort of extreme situations that challenged my social, phisical and psychological skills. I was a bit borderline. A bit blue. A bit crazy. A bit interrupted between dream and reality. I am not sure yet if at the end of this journey I found the border between the two. Never believed in borders, anyway.
What I know is that I grew up. The people around me was growing up and I was growing up along. I was a volunteer, but volunteer for what? For peace and understanding, for conflict resolution, for diversity promotion…such big words…I was just a human being, as the others there. As the young volunteers there. Not wiser, not cleverer. Just trying to make friends with those people. I might not have got completeley the aim of the project, I might not have been so much into all the activities proposed, but what I do know I managed to do was to get to the heart of the people. By undressing my feelings, by making myself, my mind and my emotions available to them. You, who have been there, you all know them. You know how important it was for them to show you really care. You are not there for doing your job. You are there to be human. It`s the only task I fully completed in my stay there. I learnt to share and I taught the others to share. To share stories and listen. Learn from the others. Learn from the young ones. Learn from the old ones. Learn from the other cultures we look down on.
Grow up. Be a better person. Too high standards. But not so difficult to attain. I came there with mistrust in the human race. I came there almost with despise. I came there with the belief everybody would hurt you at a certain moment, it `s just a matter of time. In life, one should start from the premise that people will more probably conspire against you, rather than with you. Maybe it`s typically Romanian, after living in a Communist country, in a family politically engaged against security forces, to suspect everybody. What to do, everybody has some problems, and I had them too. I overanalyse things, and I did the same with people in Serbia. I was sometimes just sitting and silently x-ray analyzing you all. Passing judgements. To myself. Trying to figure out the human behavior. so illogical and confusing. This made me suspicios to some of you, untrustworthy. I am sorry.
The people there, nevertheless, showed me their rawest feelings, as true as rarely people have shown me. They gained my trust by simply being themselves. I succeeded in being myself with everybody due to all these people. Due to their Serbian hospitality. Due to the chance of living among ethnically, socially different people, Vlah, Serb, Albanian, Rroma…if we are to take into account names. And not human essences.
I experienced all feelings. I made friends. I helped others make friends, I travelled the Serbian world from one corner to the other, lived among different people, gave up important things, learnt to make decisions and priorities, fell in love, and fell in hate, and in love, I understood how small we are and how much we like to cling to comfort and material things while we can be so happy with just one smile. I felt fulfilled when at the end I could clearly see some practical achievements of my stay there in a definite improvement in the development of some of the volunteers. I shed tears of joy, and tears of pain, I did everything you do in a normal life, strain ankles, go to the dentist, make love, laugh, play football, eat, drink, pray, talk. Having others do this for me. And many others. The difference was that I was doing them with a bit of selfishness,experiencing, looking at myself, looking at the way I am changing, making myself the main character of the story. My story. In which Serbian people, people I had known for just one month cared about me, showed love and offered help.
Serbia is now part of my life, though for 4 months it was a simple chapter of one future book. It is my 4 months gap from reality. A dive into another reality. Which one do I prefer now? I have been questioning myself ever since I came back home. It`s hard to fit back into your place. It`s hard to go back to your life again. I have here now everything I had been running away from. My ex-boyfriend told me before going away that I can run away from everybody, but I cannot run away from myself. Well, I didn`t. Here I am. I rediscovered myself there and I brought this person along. A stronger one, a brave one. A self-confident and a self-aware one.
Maybe sometimes I was too zipped in my world and I didn`t notice some of you needed me, needed somebody to listen to them. Maybe I could have been that person. I am sorry, I was too deepened into my self-analysis and reconstruction. Maybe some of you now don`t think I deserve somehow to be kept in touch with, since we didn’t have so much to do this time there. Give a chance. You taught me this. Maybe I disrespected you sometimes, I cared only about my problems.. I know this, and you helped me see this and change this in my life. I was learning, from each of you something new, something different, sharing with each of you something else and in a different way. It will not help you that I am telling this now, but it will help me in communicating and relating to other people. This is the change you made in me. And I thank you.
Thank you for making me understand we people are not concepts to be analyzed. We are simple human beings to be accepted and improved when possible. We all together managed to do this, with each of us, in more or less perceivable ways. There was neither friendship, nor love or hate between us all. It was only life.
I didn`t get into writing about places, or events, or private stories. I preferred to make this rather long psycho-analysis of our feelings. Mine, particularly. To show you how big your impact was on me. How important Serbia was for breaking our walls, irrespective of their texture. How important Serbia was for making us all meet and share our experiences. I am really thankful for this and I really hope you all had your changes. And your further impact on other people`s lives. Pay it forward.
Somehow, willingly or not, will stay connected, if we all believe in Michael Ondaatje`s words of dying rich with friends, in a world without maps.
Let`s go back to Serbia, will you?
Emotionally yours,
RB

Fifth Edition

5While closing the 4th edition of Scriptamanent, after the final meeting in Izmir, we are already preparing the new call for the next edition of the project. Stay tuned!

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