“We really stick together when it counts”: The community of EYP Serbia

Coming to an EYP event means meeting a lot of strangers and encountering a lot of different opinions. This can be hard, but not when the people around you are supportive and welcoming you into a close-knight community. This is what EYP Serbia does best, according to its members. Serbian sessions are characterised by friendliness and hospitality, even when the budget is as low as 50€!

The EYP is made up of 40 different national organisations, all with their own histories, perspectives, and people. Today, we’ll have EYP Serbia in the centre of attention, or “u centru pažnje”, as they say over there! In this NC Spotlight instalment, three people of EYP Serbia, Nikola Milenković, Milica Antić, and Srđan Hromiš tell us a bit about themselves and about what makes them proud of their National Committee.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself? How did you get involved in EYP?

Nikola: I’m Nikola, 22 years old since March and I am from south-east Serbia, the city of Niš, which is also where I currently live. I am in my third year at the University of Niš, studying Control Systems and Automation. EYP was just a very random thing I did for the first time because a friend urged me to.

Milica: My name is Milica and I am 17 years old. I am from Belgrade, the capital of Serbia and I am currently in my third year of high school, where I am studying social and linguistic studies. After high school, I will probably enroll in psychology, architecture or archaeology. Right now I’m a youth researcher in Petnica Science Centre. I thought EYP was an excuse not to study, but after attending only one session, the 42nd Regional Session of EYP Serbia in Belgrade, I realised that EYP is the best teacher, not only for academic topics but for tolerance, cooperation and growth too. Each session has changed me for the better and I couldn’t imagine my life without EYP and the skills that it provided me with.

Srđan: My name is Srđan, I’m 23 and I am a law student from Novi Sad, Serbia, currently President of the Board of EYP Serbia. I got involved with EYP in 2015 at a Regional Session in my hometown after I saw a new Facebook profile photo of a friend from a previous session, which got me interested.

What position do you hold in EYP Serbia?

Nikola: I’ve been involved in the work of EYP since 2015, mainly in project development and implementation. After doing a year as the Project Coordinator and a year on the Advisory Board, I have been honoured with the opportunity to be the Head-Organiser of the first International Session in Serbia – Novi Sad 2021!

Milica: I am the Head Organiser of the 48th Regional Session of EYP Serbia held in Belgrade. The session was supposed to happen in March, but due to the pandemic, it has been postponed to September. We are still working hard on the logistics, promoting the session and making sure everything will go as planned. Even though the session is postponed, we are finding ways to engage the participants.

Srđan: After spending five years within the organisation, exploring different positions, I am currently the President of the Board of EYP Serbia. I mainly work with the other board members through supporting them and helping with coordinating the implementation of our activities and communicating with the partners of our organisation.

What is special about EYP Serbia?

Nikola: I feel that something that a lot of people notice when visiting our events is that we really stick together when it counts. Despite differences in opinion, age or friend groups, our members never miss out on the chance to help out when things get difficult and we have a lot of genuine love for one another. The amount of love and encouragement that we received from senior members and alumni after Novi Sad 2021 was announced was incredible. We received positive reinforcement from people that haven’t been involved in EYP for years but were the ones to raise our organisation from the ground up.

Milica: Something that is very special about EYP Serbia is the friendly environment and hospitality that we have on our sessions and gatherings. The atmosphere is more relaxed and comfortable which automatically decreases the stress level, which leaves space for learning and enjoying the process. That surrounding gives a chance to get the best out of this session, leaving with wonderful memories wishing to come back. In addition, EYP Serbia shows that there is no such thing as a bad experience or an unfixable mistake, but opportunities to grow, learn and expand horizons.

Srđan:  Back in 2015, EYP Serbia was organising sessions with a budget of 50€ which was spent on coffee breaks (most important, right?!), while local Serbian EYPers hosted everybody, and everything used for a session was through in-kind donations. Exactly that is the best thing about EYP Serbia – the strong sense of community and friendship amongst EYPers, ability to use all our abilities and knowledge to adapt and improvise, and do all that with a constant smile on our faces!

What impact do you think EYP initiatives have on the young people in your community?

Nikola: Unfortunately, political culture and awareness are definitely not the most popular motives amongst Serbian youngsters, but EYP combats youth radicalisation both directly and indirectly. Just the non-formal education platform within itself that EYP creates is very necessary and beneficial for the average Serbian high-school student. One thing that Serbian EYPers consistently find out, is that we oftentimes find ourselves amazed at the little, nuanced points of personal growth that shape and change our lives for the better. We are all in one way or the other active contributors to our communities, thanks to the experiences and knowledge we were equipped within this organisation.

Milica: As there are not many organisations and programmes that promote active citizenship and non-formal education, EYP presents a safe place for expressing your opinion, influencing others, developing your skills while meeting many extraordinary peers that share same interests. EYP is a unique place to learn about and express yourself on topics that you do not have a chance to discuss in our daily conversations. It is the best teacher, not only for the academic part of the events but for tolerance, cooperation and growth too. Someone once said that EYP does not change the world, but it changes the people that will later have a chance to do so, and I strongly agree with that statement, and it is the reason why are so many young people are involved in EYP trying to deliver this message to the future generations

Srđan: Since 2015, we’ve come a long way and got a chance to organise an IS in Novi Sad in 2021 (but we still kept that delicious in-kind) for the 15th anniversary of EYP Serbia! EYP has helped shape many bright young minds in Serbian society and taught them about the importance of values which EYP cherishes while providing us with life opportunities we never imagined. Our work has become more professionalised, and EYP Serbia is constantly growing as a relevant youth NGO in Serbia as time goes by. As my mandate slowly finishes, I am confident that new generations of Serbian EYPers will continue this journey for all our sakes!