Serbia is landlocked and borders Hungary to the north; Romania and Bulgaria to the east; Macedonia to the south; and Croatia, Bosnia, and Montenegro to the west; also, it borders Albania through the disputed region of Kosovo. The capital of Serbia, Belgrade, is among the largest cities in East-Central Europe.
During the eight-day long U.S. speaker program, Prof. Michael Frazier of Howard University, Washington, D.C., conducted a series of talks on Multiculturalism, Diversity, and Pluralism, in seven Serbian cities.
The intensive program involved close to 450 primarily high-school and university students, but also professors, NGO representatives and think-tank elites, as well as journalists.
In the finest manner of a “soft diplomacy” envoy, Prof. Frazier would successfully adapt his talk and would moderate his language and style of presentation based on the type of the audience.
The sympathy for the African-Americans and their historical struggle for equal rights was almost palpable at every venue comprising seven American Corners, Faculty of Philosophy and Faculty of Philology in Belgrade, University of Kragujevac, Faculty of Philosophy in Novi Sad, International University in Subotica, and Institute for International Relations (NGO) in Belgrade.
The IIP brochures on the President Obama and Government Transition, as well as the speaker’s articles and poems, were distributed to the attendees.
International University in Subotica
Each individual session was accompanied by many questions from the fascinated public, while at the same time inspiring their thinking, contemplative comments, and compassion. It would also bring laughs at witty speaker’s remarks based on an intellectual humor as well as an exceptionally warm embracing of a proactive “American” way of lecturing.
The charismatic appearance and enlightening presentation of the U.S. guest prolonged each event and made the attendees anxious to stay longer to exchange the views and get enriched from this extraordinary skillful and experienced presenter.
The impact of the program had been enlarged by the fantastic media coverage: twenty three appearances on 11 local TV stations, one newspaper (“Gradjanski List”) article and one interview for a specialized monthly journal. As one of the many positive outcomes – two universities (in Belgrade and Subotica) expressed their intents to establish a long-term cooperation with Prof. Frazier and his University, while all hosts invited the guest speaker to come again.
Most of the communities visited during this program are multi-ethnic, which made the topic even more actual and beneficial. At several venues the audience admitted that it was the first time they were able to communicate with an African-American, and even to see one in their respective towns – which was greatly appreciated.
The ideas of tolerance, pluralism and multi-culturalism, discussed from a broader aspect, as well as the U.S. experience, made the mentioned solutions applicable in local environment.
A university professor stated that students were able to hear some universal, life messages which could be the guiding principles in their lives.
A group of intellectuals, former ambassadors, and researchers engaged in a lively discussion on the future principles of the transition and further democratic development of Serbia, were impressed by professor’s views and suggestions, finding in them some invaluable ideas and suggestions for the possible ways how to sustain and which strategy to apply on this difficult path towards a modern democratic society.
University of Novi Sad
- The university located in Novi Sad, the capital of the Serbian province of Vojvodina and the second largest city in Serbia.
- Enrollment: 42,940 (2010)
- Founded: 1960
February 24, 2009 in the American Window program presented Dr. Michael Frazier which was attended by high school students from the city of Bujanovac. Frazier presentation, “Multiculture in America” explained how people in the United States had difficulty in the realization of their rights and especially people of black race. Turnout for this lecture was a great all were very satisfied with the response and responded to all questions and promised that if he can point out the opportunity to visit again. At the lecture were secondary school students Sezia Surroi and Sveti Sava with professors, was 78 students and professors and students who study in universities, also followed the lecture, and two local TV stations that were transferred during the day in your program. After the lecture, Dr. Frazier gave an interview which was in both the Albanian and Serbian language.
The program, evaluated as a “huge success” by participants, AC staff, media, and the Embassy representatives, contributed to a much better understanding of diversity and tolerance, and to the promoting of mutual understanding between the two countries. It enabled the exchange of ideas and educational experience as well as the initiation of various forms of future cooperation.