Flinn Scholars

On the Road 2011: Day Fourteen

June 7, 2011

By Flinn Foundation

Each summer the Flinn Scholars Program takes an entire class of Scholars to Budapest, Hungary, and neighboring Slovakia and Serbia for a three-week seminar on the emerging democracies of Eastern Europe. Here’s a day-by-day account.

Carter-Thaxton Smith (’10)

I woke up this morning to the quiet, peaceful sunrise streaming in from my home-stay’s window. Her flat, which she shared with her mother and two younger brothers, was nestled into a side street in the “Roma” district of Novi Sad.

Last night Dragana and her family welcomed two Flinns, Savannah and me, into their home. This morning we shared a breakfast of large, chocolate-filled pastries and quiet, fun conversation. Branislav, Dragana’s middle sibling, had made animal sculptures for Savannah and me so that we would remember our time with his family. We exchanged our gifts and finished getting ready. The television in the living room was on and Dragana flipped through the channels till she found what I can only describe as a horrifying Serbian rendition of the popular British-American TV show ?Teletubbies?; Dragana was very amused at my reaction.

Soon we merry three were off to rendezvous with the rest of the Flinns at the University of Novi Sad, or ??????????? ? ????? ????. A bus ride and a 10-minute walk found us at the end of our time with Dragana for the trip, and at the beginning of what looks to be a long-time friendship.

We had two lectures in the morning. The first was a factual lecture on the University of Novi Sad. This soon turned into a fairly deep exploration of the intellectual and political zeitgeist of Serbia.  the second lecture covered the career opportunities for Serbian graduates. Unfortunately, the employment prospects are extraordinarily small, which has led to an exodus of skilled labor and young Serbs from the country. Both lecturers were very engaging. Everywhere we have gone we have been welcomed by the intellectual community, and we have done our best to make use of them.

Lunch was an on-our-own affair. Ryan and I found ourselves in a pizza parlor not far from the university. Due to a time crunch, we scarfed down some of the best pizza either of us have had to date. Our our way back we bumped into a couple other Flinns and started talking about the plentiful graffiti lining the walls of every building. We found one which said ?WOW took my brother.? 

We then took the bus to a farm outside of Novi Sad, where we were Promptly greeted by our hosts, a kind couple with a sincere interest in preserving the rich cultural traditions of the region, and by two adorable pugs. Our stay on the farm was a much needed break from the fast-paced tempo of our travels. The evening was spent relaxing in the shade, watching and partaking in traditional Slovakian and Serbian folk dancing. Our host kindly asked if we had any talent we would like to share. After a bit of prodding, Savannah amazed us all with two of her original songs. Later, a group of us got a volleyball game going with some of the folk dancers and much fun was had by all.

Dinner was absolutely fantastic. The carnivores enjoyed a bread-bowl filled with pasta and beef goulash, while the herbivores had a mushroom, pepper, and onion stew. We ate in an octagonal hut with a thatched roof overlooking the horse pasture. That night we had a bonfire by the tents. The two Eagle Scouts (Ryan and I) tended the fire while Savannah and company sang to the tune of Amy’s guitar. A light rain eventually sent us all to bed quietly in the fields of Serbia.