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Kaitlin Travels to Balkans


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A Beginner's Thoughts on Documenting


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October 23rd, 2013

So, the academic purpose behind this project was for me to gain some much needed experience of what it?s like to document something with the intent of making it into a presentable piece; and this trip has for sure already taught me lessons on just that. It?s super hard to keep up with the responsibilities of a journalist or documentary maker when you are in a new place experiencing a bunch of new things for the first time. I keep forgetting all kinds of things like bringing my recorder or camera. Ok those seem like really obvious things, but you don?t always know exactly when you might need them! A good example is of when Sean and I went to the Krka National Park with Dragan I thought for sure I would only want my camera while walking the trail. I had no idea that when we would get to the end there would be these setups of imitation homes, barns, and wool weaving. The wool weaving was especially interesting to me and there was a lady who spoke great english and gave us a short demonstration of how they used to twist it into yarn. We spoke to her for a while and she asked me about my project. At that point I was really wishing I had my recorder! I told myself from then on I was going to carry it around in my hand as often as possible so that I could record on a moments notice? of course that didn?t last too long. Fortunately I feel confident that my planned interviews will be enough to make a substantial piece- for a beginner, at least.

 

The other thing is that, as a photographer, I?ve always had a hard time deciding what to photograph and what not to photograph when I am trying to photograph with such intention. I tend to overthink things when I?m doing a project like this. Initially I had planned to photograph this entire trip with film because I almost always shoot with film and I didn?t want to change my ways for the project. But then I started thinking that I might like to try my hand at some video while on this trip, just for fun (not a part of my academic contract); so I ended up borrowing a digital camera from Evergreen to take with me. Now I?m here and I have two cameras and it?s messing me up! I?m sure other photographers know what I?m talking about. It?s making my work 10x more complicated because I not only have to decide what to photograph, I have to decide which camera to bring (no one wants to be the idiot with two cameras) and if I decide to bring the film camera I won?t have the option of video and I?ll have to be more conservative with my shots. And I can?t shoot at night (no flash or tripod). Now this is starting to make me think about how awful I was at packing for this trip?  

 

Anyhow, I?m glad this trip is serving it?s purpose.

Split, Croatia


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October 22nd, 2013

Now here in Split, Croatia where we are being housed/guided by Mladen?s friend Dragan. He speaks good English, so it is a relaxed situation. He first took us to Krka National Park which has huge beautiful falls and the remains of an old Tesla hydroelectric power plant. The park has built wooden walkways that take you over several of the falls and through the wooded areas. It was like nothing I?ve ever seen!

Srpska_1

Krka National Park

Krka_2

Krka National Park

Krka_3

Krka National Park- Hydroelectric Power Plant

Then, a day in Split to look around briefly and see Diocletian?s Palace which Roman Emperor Diocletian built as a place to live for his retirement. Much of it is a very eerie, damp, and dark tour. Of course, it was lit and  few artifacts remained. The palace includes a bell tower which we paid to go to the top of. I, however, did not make it all the way to the top. I guess I got vertigo.

Split_1

Split Boardwalk

Diocletian

Diocletian's Palace

bell tower

Diocletian's Palace- Bell Tower

The rest of the day was just spent meandering around town and participating in caffe bar culture- lot?s of people watching. Split has a beautiful boardwalk type of area right by the water where we were able to divert ourself for hours.

Split_2

view of Split from the hill

While in Croatia I started to have lot?s of questions about Balkan culture. I started getting confused about who speaks what language, and who identifies with which country. Is it based on where you were born? What your parents are? What your ancestors are? Because as far as I could tell, the Balkans is a very mixed ethnic group and I?m not sure the beginning of one group starts and the other finishes. According to the book I am reading on the history of the Balkans, at the turn of the 20th century there were people of the Balkans who only knew the ethnic divide as that between Turks and Christians- aka, Serbian, Bulgarian, and Greek were all lumped together. Mind you, this is what the book says (written by Mark Mazower) and for all I know modern people of the Balkans might say different. My point is that at this time I am not sure if I am actually Serbian, or what. Our tour guide, Dragan tells me he is half Serbian half Croatian. He was born and lives in Croatia, and he identifies as both. I decided to ask him some questions and I recorded his answers on this subject, which will be helpful to my project later on. He had a lot to say about how it just differs depending on the person and the country. 

Zadar, Croatia


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October 21st, 2013

I am finally here in the Balkans for the first time ever! I can?t believe I got the idea for this a year ago? and now here I am. You can never mentally prepare yourself enough for what it is like to suddenly be in a place so far from home and anticipate what will be different from what you are used to. 

We flew into Zadar, Croatia on the 18th. My relative Mladen had arranged for us to be picked up and accommodated by someone he knew, and the place was great. Here it is a regular thing for people to have entire homes sectioned off into individual apartments or shared apartments (individual bedrooms w/ locked doors and communal bathroom and kitchen) for travelers to rent out. It?s a very nice setup and I wish it was a thing in the US.

Sean_Zadar

Sean on the balcony in Zadar

For reference, the coast here feels similar to coastal California. It is still in the 60?s-70?s (fahrenheit) well into October. In these coastal cities it is pretty tourist-y with people from all over Europe and a small amount of Americans.

Sean_Zadar_2

Sean found out before we left that coffee is the main social lubricant of the Balkans and after arriving we immediately got the full affect of that. The night we arrived in Zadar, Berta and her daughter Bianca (they live in another part of the apartment we were staying in) gave us a quick tour of Old Town. Bianca was sure to point out that the next morning the area would be completely filled with people having coffee ?for hours? at least one hour!?. The next day we saw what she meant. There is so much demand for socialization with coffee/beer/wine that there are dozens of ?caffe bars? everywhere you look, but almost none serve food. Maybe a croissant. For the actual restaurants, all we could find was Italian. I can?t tell you how grateful I am that my body is allowing me to eat copious amounts of pasta and bread without fuss.

While in Zadar we of course spent lot?s of time right by the water, and we were able to experience the sea organ which is a thing that is built into the cement boardwalk that allows the water to make music. Sean could explain it better. It?s really awesome to just sit and listen to in the sun for a while.

Zadar_feet

Anyhow, bottom line is that I want all of you American friends of mine to know that it is absolutely gorgeous here as well as chill and safe. You must put it at the top of your traveling list, ASAP.

I have to admit that I was a little afraid to come here because of my own personal ?fear of the unknown? issues. It happens to me with almost anything new that I do. In the months prior to leaving the US, I maintained a constant planning mindset to distract myself from the fact that I new I was be scared the moment I left the country. It?s partially because of being in places that I?m not used to, but mostly because of being away from all of the things that I know so well. I?ll admit even more: I?m still not completely chill about being away from home! It?s kind of embarrassing because I?ve always considered myself to be someone who has desire to travel and experience new places? turns out I may just be a total homebody. 

Sacha in Paris


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October 18th, 2013

After a little over a week of being abroad, I met up with Sacha Bodiroga in Paris, France. I specifically wanted to meet and talk with him because I wanted to capture the perspective of someone who is my age and lives away from the Balkans.

Our conversation gave me more than I ever expected! Going into this whole project I just wasn?t sure how interested young European Bodirogas would be in our family history and what it means to be a Bodiroga. I thought I might have more interest than any of them, as an American, since it is rare for an American to have such a knowledge base of where they come from. Turns out that Sacha totally values being a Bodiroga in a similar way to me. Having grown up in France he finds that most people there prefer to identify with whatever the country that their family is originally from (unless they are completely French), and identifies as Serbian. He even has a Serbian ?B? for Bodiroga tattooed on his back, which I thought was so cool! You can see it here in this photo he gave me:

Sachatattoo

In other news, the big cities of Paris and London have tired me out and I am ready to move on to the next leg of the trip. More to come!

An Introduction


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October 1st, 2013

Hi Bodirogas! I'll be copy/pasting posts directly from my tumblr (kaitlingoestobalkans.tumblr.com) which I try to write in such a way that they are interesting to people even outside of our family. I am doing this first and foremost as a personal endeavor which is very near and dear to my heart, but also as a student. It is a great opportunity to practice my documentary skills, as I am majoring in photojournalism and am interested in expanding to radio journalism. I'll be traveling along to places of relevancy  meeting people, taking photos, and making recordings. Any comments or input is encouraged! I don't know a lot, but that is the whole point of this trip- to learn as much as possible!

Here is my first official post:

Some of you may be wondering what the deal is with this trip I?m doing. My inspiration for the trip came from hearing bits and pieces of a story about how our family name came to be, as well as a sense of pride from having a unique name that links a relatively small group of people together. I know it is quite rare for Americans to have such a strong link to specific part of their cultural heritage, and I want to take advantage of the fact that I do. I want to find out all I can about our family and history. If I?ve never told you before, the vague story I have heard from my dad, who heard it from a relative or two, is pretty intriguing. Here is one version of the story, as told to me by my relative Mladen and then rewritten in my own words:

During the Ottoman Empire, Christians were being pushed into and rewarded for converting to Islam. The Islamics were basically given right to do whatever they wanted. They could be cleared for crimes, they could have multiple wives, and they definitely took precedence over the Christians. Our Bodiroga- at the time called Kovacevic- did not convert, but he may have had family around who did. An Islam tried to confiscate a deer that Kovacevic had hunted, but Kovacevic killed him instead. Since he would have most certainly been executed, he quickly fled to what is now Bosnia & Herzegovina and formed our family?s village. He had stabbed the Islam with the horn of the deer because Christians were not allowed to bare arms at that time, and feeling proud of the fact that he had achieved this, he decided to call himself ?Stabhorn?, which is what Bodiroga means. Bodi- (to) stab, roga- horn. And from there is where our family came.

Every time I read this story I feel impressed, and I can?t believe I know such a thing about my ancestry. I feel this is truly a great story to tell and dig further into, not because I think everyone should be interested in my family specifically, but because I think people should be interested in connecting with their heritage and those of others. It is so important to make these connections, because the more you know about the people and the past, the more we can create a sense of empathy throughout humanity. Since I want very much to participate in the process of storytelling and journalism for the rest of my life, I chose my own family story as a spectacular opportunity to practice the skills I need. This trip is ?Part I? of my entire project and once I have gathered all the photos, recordings, and writing that I need I will be forming it into a piece that I can share with all of you.

 


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Warning: date(): It is not safe to rely on the system's timezone settings. You are *required* to use the date.timezone setting or the date_default_timezone_set() function. In case you used any of those methods and you are still getting this warning, you most likely misspelled the timezone identifier. We selected the timezone 'UTC' for now, but please set date.timezone to select your timezone. in /hermes/bosnaweb05a/b1948/ipw.bodiroga/public_html/blog/inc/sessions/model/_hitlist.class.php on line 127