[i] Okay, let’s get started. Well, you’ve got a box in your hands.
Can you tell us a little bit more about that?
[r] Well, you told me that might be good to show you an item from Croatia. Well I brought this box when we came to Amsterdam because it’s my parents’ box. When they were young, they used to climb in the mountains. In our country you have a lot of mountains, so in the weekends you can go into mountains very often. And then when I was with my husband, [name], um… we used to go climbing or hiking in the mountains a lot. And then we used this box and I’m gonna show you now. In this box you have some things. That’s to make coffee when you’re in the mountains. You have two… Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Wait a minute. I’m gonna go get everything out first. There’s also a little spoon from my parents. It’s about forty years old now, so what are you doing? You put water here and the coffee, and then there’s a little screw here. And then you put on this little pill. And as you can see, they’re all halves, because that’s enough for two coffees. You can light that. You put that coffee and water here, and in a few minutes you get coffee, and you put that here. This one’s also sugar. So if you’re in the mountains and you really want to drink coffee, you can have hot coffee with this box in a few minutes. So you should check it out. Your flight from Croatia to Amsterdam. You really try to bring everything that is very important to you. But this box has to go, had to go.
[i] Well nice, well.
And it’s been here in our house for 20 years. And then there’s another trick. How do you put that back. It’s a very small box. But we’ll do it later.
[i] And you keep it here, but have you ever used it in those 20 years?
[r] No, no,
[i] No.
[r] In Holland you can’t really go hiking in the mountains. That is really just a memory of my parents and a period in Croatia.
[i] Okay. You brought something else.
[r] There’s another little thing. You can’t see that very well, but it’s a very small plastic. It always goes with it, and this is a very important part, which I have used, or shall I say, when I got that in my period of top sports, to be an athlete is also the result of my performance very high handling. What’s that? I was archery. [archery] And then you’ve got bow and then you’ve got that wire here. Then you have to
[i] Tensioning.
[r] Tension. And then you put on that wire the moment you open it and start aiming, it comes right here at your mouth. That means that that very good, yeah, spot where you can shoot that, good shooting. That’s exactly where you aim, because the moment you open the bow, then the whole body vibrates very, very hard, because that’s very hard to open. “The arrow has” [the bow must] must really, really quickly get to the target [target]. So if you don’t do that, you can’t shoot that well. And then this little thing is very important in the whole process of shooting. And I’m very happy with that. Because when I got that, everything went well.
[i] Things went well,
[r] Very good
[i] Yeah, yeah
[i] Well.
[r] And it’s right here.
[i] Really think it’s special. You’ve told something about yourself, so you’re from Croatia, but now can you tell something more about yourself, who are you, and how did you end up in Amsterdam?
[r] Wait a minute. Those are multiple questions.
[i] Yeah. Okay, just who I am. I am [name]. I’m from Croatia, from Rijeka. And the reason we’re here is that twenty-three years ago war started in our country of Yugoslavia. And all of a sudden, we found ourselves in our country as actually enemies, because we’re of Serb descent. Namely, my husband more, he’s really from both parents, they’re Serbs. I’m not really, er… so pure of nationality. I can tell you that too, actually, it’s a very special story. My father’s grandfather is from old Serbia, but his parents are Romanian people. So my father was born in Vojvodina, but both grandparents are Romanian people. And my grandmother is a Hungarian woman. So that’s a mix of Eastern bloc at least Romanian and Hungarian origin. On my mother’s side, my grandfather is Czech and my grandmother is a Croatian woman. So that’s a very big mix, which I basically always knew. I was always a Yugoslavian child, a woman later, that we didn’t think that was so special, what nationality do you have. And then suddenly you’re in Rijeka and you just had a child and started a war. So for my husband it was very difficult and very dangerous, actually. Both services really want him to go into service. And that was very strange. If you go on Serbian service, I’m going to fight Croats. If you go on Croatian service as Serbs, you fight Serbs. So that’s that, that nonsense of our war. But he’s also somebody who’s got a gun anyway that’s, that’s really not like him. So he was the first one to come to Amsterdam. Our idea was to emigrate to Australia and we were translating all our papers into English and going to the embassy in Vienna for request. But in the meantime a very good friend of ours, [name], who was already here, his father was ill so he came to Rijeka to visit father and see our baby. And that night he just took my husband to Amsterdam. And then the two of us, [name] and I, six months later came to see my husband here in Amsterdam.
[i] And how old was [name] then?
Almost two. That was that dilemma too, because [name] was in a squat, the most famous squat in Amsterdam, Villa Omval. Which was already crowded with refugees. And he tried to make arrangements with the squatters before our arrival. That was a bit difficult, but in the end they did give permission. And so we came six months later. I wanted to say that, we had something, if that permission does not come, then we celebrate our daughter’s birthday together in Rijeka in Croatia. If that permission comes, we’ll celebrate it in Amsterdam. And that’s it.
[i] Well, and that was in ’91?
[r] No, no. That was February ’93 when the two of us came.
Okay. And can you tell us a little more about what it looks like for you to come from Rijeka to Amsterdam? What did Amsterdam look like? What, what was your first impression, what did you see?
Windy. It was February, so it was winter. The trip from Rijeka to Amsterdam was tiring, there was a lot of snow and bad weather. That’s actually only then that I realized, but you know, Amsterdam was, or Holland at all, the only thing emotional, I can tell now, is great because we were together. So where would we come from doesn’t really matter, we were finally together. After six months that was uncertain what, what was going to happen. So even that squat, I didn’t know what that is actually. It doesn’t exist with us. So squat and other people it was great. We have a room and, and that was enough to really enjoy. To be together, a little bit of security anyway. But Amsterdam itself, yeah, fairy-tale, just like today. It’s such a special city, different with beautiful houses, streets and everything else you can experience. Even in those first days it was just watching and, oh, what was also interesting. Except for that wind, which blew very hard. And I really have a headache first days, that’s what everyone said about don’t worry [don’t worry]. Later will be fine, you have to get used to that wind and drizzle. But what was interesting in that period in Croatia, and I think in the rest of ex-Yugoslavia. We also had a lot of restrictions. of light, so every second night we had no light. And then all of a sudden, in the evening when you can, there was light everywhere from the street, from shop windows, and we live very close to the Concertgebouw, so that Concertgebouw is suddenly completely full of light. That was also something of, yes freedom, but also absolutely better standard and richness and, and positive in any case.
[i] And then you came here. Who were the first people you met, besides people in Villa?
[r] Okay, then we’ll go back. When [name] was in Holland. In Croatia I worked as a school psychologist and then I had to go to a course in Zagreb to learn, to work with the refugees, in the area where I lived we had a lot of refugees and especially children as well. And that was my job to work with parents and with the children.
[r] But in Rijeka
[i] In Rijeka
[i] There was no war in Rijeka?
[r] No, that was no limit.
[i] Wasn’t a war zone, no.
[r] Exactly. But there were a lot of refugees where we received and we had to do something. So I had to go to a course in Zagreb and in Zagreb I met some Dutch people who gave those courses and trainings. And one of for example professor Dr. [name] very often I also had to translate were also many refugees there so I was also a translator there. And we very often got into conversations about the problems and how and what to do as a psychologist for those people. And of course in between I also told them that my husband is already in Amsterdam. And maybe I would go that way too. And he said when you call, and I got a business card from him. So when we were in Villa on the second, third day I called him, hoping maybe I could find a job or, very idealistic, it was all full of positive energy. And yeah that guy didn’t know me, yeah who did. But he was so sweet and wonderful to say, “Well, come and see me. Luckily when I came right away he could recognize me and we also got into a very nice conversation with his wife. And I remember, it’s so nice to see how that works. They were always talking to each other in Dutch. And suddenly he said, would you like us to call a friend of ours. Maybe she can help you find a job. Although that’s nonsense without a residence permit, but okay. Because that woman once helped a Czech doctor so maybe she wants some more. And that was bingo. That’s Mrs. [name] and her husband [name] they’re actually people who did everything for us here. Among other things, but really people that that woman said right away, yeah, let me see her tomorrow. And from that moment on, we’re very good friends with those people today. And those are people who knew exactly where to go. Do you want me to tell you what they all have… yeah? Well, [name] and [name], that’s, [name] is also a psychologist, or was psychologist [name] is actually dead by now. And [name] dentist. So the first thing they did is that [name] called her sister, [name] and [name] her husband. His people those years anyway have actually helped everyone they want. Mainly young talented people. So financially they help people a lot, so they called them. And what did they do? [name] and [name]. They bought us a flat in West. To get away from that squat as quickly as possible. But yeah in the beginning that’s very weird, why would someone you don’t know Well look war, refugees, I get that but they don’t know us at all. Well, so in a couple of weeks we were allowed to move to West. And that was so much fun. That was April 1st and [name] said, well you have to be at that address by 9:00 in the morning. And we got there with our Beetle, we had a Beetle. We came with Beetle, so all the stuff back in the Beetle. And that [name] helped us a little with the rest of what we had. And we got there, we didn’t answer anybody’s doorbell. Then we waited a bit, so that’s March, was still very cold. With that two year old baby. And suddenly we saw two older people with very large boxes. Really very difficult to walk. And they were standing in front of that door, wherever we were standing. And [name] and [name] asked: Can we help you? And those people said yes, and then [name] and [name] went to bring those boxes upstairs. And they just come down. And then all of a sudden those two older people opened the window of come up. So that was [name] and his lawyer, with two huge boxes of plates, cups, everything you need the first moment when you come into an empty flat. Couple of hours later, an Ikea truck came, yeah, bed for [name], table, we still have that table. Chairs, some sheets, so in that day that beautiful little flat was yeah, livable, we can live there. So those were [name] and [name]. And a lot of other things. Really. Well, all right, so we were in that house in West, six months. Then one day [name] and [name] asked us to come and have lunch with them. To discuss which school [name] would go to. And we thought school. She’s only two, two and a half. Anyway, we had to discuss which school we would like to go to. Eva was also there. And [name] was really a child psychologist. So she also knew a lot of schools in Amsterdam. And explain that, it’s not about having a child who goes to school close to your home, just like in our country, and there are a lot of different schools with different approaches. So what we said was just, if [name] would ever have problems at school then we can help her. But the only thing we really can’t help is Dutch. So we said if it is a school where she can learn language well. And that’s why she got a whole, they actually decided, to go to a very white school [name] to enroll. And they all did it for us. So [name] was at Willemsparkschool actually near here. Which was a little weird for us, because West took that kid all the way south. But that was all planned because this house where we are now was renovated for us at that time. So when we were at that lunch to talk about the school and made a decision and we also from goh so far away but well, are people who probably know better than us. Then they say with that school is also close, because we are now going to see something else. And then we came here. And we were totally in shock. And also maybe if I think about it now a little rude. We were like, no, but we don’t have to. That flat in West is very good and enough. We were totally scared of what those people want from us. Anyway, so, [name] and [name] and then a lot of friends of them and children and a very large circle of friends of them we got to know. Who also then always knew something we have to do, and what is good to do and which way to go. And don’t forget [name] and [name] those are people who lived up here. Well, everything, every paper, every document everything that has to be done. that’s just to [name] and [name], where the door was open. And when they left on vacation, the door was open. Or if I need something from them you just go in and they go in here, so that’s people who could help everything, everything we needed right away. Anyway, so on. As you know the first thing to do is learn Dutch. Was also a bit tricky [tricky] because you don’t know if you would get the residence permit. In our heads was still that Australia. English we could do a lot better than Dutch. Anyway, then you come across [name], yes you know her. So [name] we didn’t get to know her husband, he died in those days but [name] and her husband started teaching Dutch to people from ex-Yugoslavia for free. And then we got that lesson there, too. Me with her and [name] with a friend of hers. These are people who have retired and are learning Dutch with Yugoslavian people every night, five or six days a week. But that was really, if you think as special as you think now, then that was also special, you always think what these people want. How could they spend so much time on people they don’t know. But anyway, with [name] and the group, the Dutch, got the basis. Which is why I heard through, through dear people, that in Utrecht is a foundation UAF that helps people who are already highly educated in their own country but have not received a certificate here and cannot work in their education to study again. So UAF pays for your studies, that too. Don’t forget to say that when we came here and also in West we don’t have to pay anything. So [name] and [name] have said when you have a job and have an income then you are going to pay rent and electricity and everything. Except phone, phone we had to. So that too and then you have a foundation that pays for your studies. Luckily [name] doesn’t have to. His diploma was recognized. Yeah, engineers. That’s a very interesting job. But psychologists that was not necessary. So I did get the opportunity and permission to go back to college. And actually happy but not quite, but at least some in the last year. UAF are going to pay for that, but for that you had to take a Dutch as a second language exam. And again luckily but because of the basics we got from [name] I was immediately allowed to go to the second level. And within four months I just had my diploma of Dutch as a second language so I could start studying very quickly. And I did that at UvA.
At UvA, okay.
[r] I became a psychologist again.
[i] Let’s go back to when you came to Villa, Villa Omval. Seems interesting to me that you tell me something about that, especially about your friends [name], who lived in that Villa back then, but who were all the other people who lived there?
[r] Oh the people we still
[i] And how was life with such a little baby and I mean that first period?
[r] Villa people, Villa people. Okay In the first case Villa was a big three-story building and on the last floor upstairs were squatters. Those are Dutch young people with dreadlocks and very bizarre clothes. And people who are for freedom as we understand it. They don’t like America or Coca Cola or Marlboro. So that’s what I got for information. They slept very late, they didn’t wake up before eleven. They were awake for a long time in the evening, so the rhythm was different. But for the rest people who also came to Holland just like that, and in that period when you come to Holland you have the possibility to choose because everyone of us immediately went to report to the refugee police, and then you could choose to have a place where you can live then you can go there. So you have to have an address. Or to asylum. And that was a better option for us. So we had an address, and the rest of those people from everywhere, from Serbia of Belgrade of Croatia, from my city, from Opatija. Basically people except [name] and [name] we didn’t know anyone else. When we came, there was also a great woman [name], from Bosnia, with three children. So me with one child, that was, that’s not, you know, one child. But three kids. And that was great so, we two mothers the only mothers in the Villa were there and as I understood [name] might have come week before me. So the whole Villa people young people, fairly young people who suddenly came to Amsterdam with a benefit that was four hundred guilders at the time, but you don’t have to pay anything except electricity in a squat. So four hundred was good to live. Yes, there were a lot of parties [parties]. They are people who enjoyed the freedom and possibilities that Amsterdam offered, or offers. And then mothers came with children and that was also very nice to see and nice to see. That as I have understood or heard my husband told me because he was already, for six months. Every night until very late in the evening was in the basement a kind of, well those were also people actually making music, but really musicians, from still Yugoslavia. So they made studio then. Those were also the, what are the names of all those pults [tables] with mixers?
[i] Mixers
[r] Right, you know, so they really made music there, too. Yeah, as soon as [name] and I came up with [name], at eight it was quiet. There were kids in the house, so that was, you see, how people can adapt so well depending on where you are.
[i] And how big was that group that lived there in Villa?
[r] It was certainly more than thirty people or so. It was also one that building used to be a shelter for the women that is the Stay Of My Body. So they must have been in a crisis place and hiding so that was also pretty well refurbished. We had a lot of bathrooms, it was a shared large kitchen and then rooms. So it was really something to live together and, how does that say in Dutch homes, they have something those people who live together.
[i] Living together
Yeah. Well, we became Dutch very early without a passport. We lived in a living group actually, not knowing what that is.
[i] And besides those joint activities in Villa. Opsom eating together, but maybe parties were also other actions or activities conceived or organized by that group. Was it like that or was it another one I have, for example was Mi za Mir also involved there or do you know people from that group at that time?
[r] No, no. And that was nice of you to say that because I actually called professor [name] very quickly, and within a few weeks we went to live in West. Had we that whole process what a lot of people in Villa had mainly with the lake Mi za Mir that we had not experienced. So we knew a lot of people but the help they offered and we had actually received from Dutch people. So we are a bit different and we had a different way.
[i] Yes, yes. When you lived in this house we are now in Amsterdam-Centrum next to Museumplein,
[r] Amsterdam South? Yeah.
Amsterdam-South, yes. Indeed that was different from most people who had to flee. If they came here, they’d be in the squat. So you guys were all right, it was okay, yeah.
[r] We were terribly lucky. We were really lucky as Dutch people say.
[i] Yes exactly, and you were immediately busy with training, learning language, looking for a job, how did that go? So you went with that language course and preparation for study and so on. Then you finished your diploma, did you get your diploma, how did it go on?
[r] Then you’re going to sign up for temp agencies anyway. And then I was offered a job, no that was a vacancy, in Gouda, medical nursery, they were looking for a psychologist. And I went there for an interview, and because it was through an employment agency, those people said yes, we want you very much. Were also very open minded people. They also want to help in one way or another because if I look now that was, I finished my studies within two years and with all those obligations so, eighteen years ago it was. Can you imagine what my Dutch was like. And yet for me it was, well, I’m going to work now. So that’s also a bit up to us and taking our yes risk as people usually say. So I was talking to them and they say that we would like to help you and that you are starting to work as a psychologist. Besides we are still very good friends with those people in Gouda, or at least the director of Gouda, she is also our very good friend today. But temping agencies and all those mediators ask a lot of money, we can’t pay that much for you. And then I called UAF again. At that moment, because UAF also has a department called Job Support. And when I finished my studies, they said, if you ever need help with writing applications or preparing for applications, I would contact them again. Anyway, I had [name] and [name] who did that for me. And I never asked for anything but at that moment I called them back from, or called them back from: hey what am I supposed to do here? People do want me, that’s the job as a psychologist so that’s why you did all that, but I’m too expensive. And then Job Support, [name] of that woman, called the temp agency and what did she do, what did she arrange that I don’t know, but I started in Gouda as a psychologist. Well that was really a fantastic experience. And if that Gouda and those people there were in Amsterdam I think I would very much like to work there today. But within two years, I’ve worked there for two years, it became clear to me that that trip to Gouda takes a lot of time. And we can say that maybe that’s a little spoiled. Because a lot of Dutch people travel to work regularly for years, but or is it something in culture that is so bizarre to us that you live in Amsterdam and go to work in Gouda while psychologists come to work in Gouda. Anyway, in those days that was really bizarre for me. That I only needed three hours, three and a half hours a day to travel while my child, who was about six at the time, was just starting school and learning. And as a psychologist and child psychologist mother only sees five days a week at seven o’clock in the evening. So I thought this is time to find a job in Amsterdam and be with child. And that’s what I did. Then I applied again in Amsterdam. And the first application was successful again. So I worked at Spirit. That’s a very interesting job. But what was difficult for me, and why did I thank you for that job after one year, were great people, then you have a week’s shift at night every three weeks. Because there are homes so crisis places for young people and work itself was very challenging. I liked that, still difficult in terms of language, but the people weren’t very open and I was able to do the job clearly, because I got the permanent job. But basically, you know my flat, we sleep in the living room and there is only one room where [name] slept. So at the moment at night pager goes then also [name] and [name] is awake.
[i] Everybody awake.
I can’t sleep in the kitchen or anything. So as that became regular, it became clear to me. Also [name] at night when I wasn’t on call and she possibly heard phone or television ringing mummy pager. So it was clear to me that this was too much tension and unrest in our family, that the decision was I had to look for a new job again and that the first job I did was with Altra. It is also a foundation for young people and children, and I worked there for almost eight years. Do you want to continue?
[i] Yeah, yeah, no but look, you went right away, or right after two years of preparation you just started working as a child psychologist. But you also used to do that in Rijeka, or you were involved in school as a psychologist,
[r] Yes, school psychologist.
[i] that’s different.
It’s a little different.
[i] But was it also for you in the professional field that you saw a big difference or was it, could you move right away or was it a big task for you to, say, start working here right away or can you tell us something about that? Or were there no differences at all?
[r] Sure are differences. Are a lot of differences. In the first instance there are differences in the work of a school psychologist here. I have never worked as a school psychologist here, but I am very much involved with school psychologists in the Netherlands. I can tell you that a little later. But the work in Yugoslavia or Croatia as a school psychologist is much broader. So it’s not just diagnostics and possibly deciding which level is right for a child, but it’s also really system-oriented. We work with parents, we work with the whole system in Croatia. So also social aspects, that was the very broad, and working with teachers and social skills, aggression regulation training, that’s all I did in Croatia. Here I was actually very quickly aware after my studies that I can never work as a school psychologist. School psychologists have to write an awful lot of reports and that is something that is not really my strong point today. So even then it was clear to me that you’re not looking for your place there, but I’m going to link up with school psychologists, because that’s also part of my life today. I was a student then, I enrolled or became a member of the Dutch Institute of Psychologists and there is also a section of school psychologists there. So then I thought, well maybe if I was in that section I would get to know people and maybe later I could get to work a bit faster. But precisely because of that it was clear to me, but they work completely different from us in Croatia. So a lot more assessment, it’s a lot more real testing. So then I knew that’s not for me but I stick with that section. Because that section has a very interesting meeting every six weeks with, has meetings with interesting lectures, it is always something that is up to date and new. And so I just stuck in that section that was allowed. Yes, you just pay a membership fee so you can join the Section at the meetings and because of that I also became friends with a lot of people there who came to the meeting, school psychologists from the Netherlands. So, now I’m going to tell you more about them. Eleven years ago [name] came to such a meeting, that’s a professor in Utrecht at the University of Psychology, with a proposal that in Europe a new European training centre was created that provides training for school psychologists in crisis interventions in schools. And all this is done via European Union money, via Comenius program, so you don’t have to pay anything. Do you have to check in that time already that you suddenly get a training. Another thing that you don’t have to pay anything. And I was already working at Altra at that time and I worked a lot with the schools so I also got the opportunity at that training, at that time it was in Trento, so every time it was in a different country. Well, story short, I’ve been in the crisis intervention network of school psychologists in the Netherlands ever since. Five years ago I became a secretary in that European training centre, and I also give training through that European training centre for the school psychologists throughout Europe for the attention of those crisis interventions and trauma and mourning and shock and stress and everything that goes with it. So that’s a starting point with school psychologists. But I have never worked as a school psychologist in the Netherlands. But I’m very much involved with school psychologists. Five years ago, I was actually the representative of the Netherlands in Brussels of the European network of school psychologists. So much influence of my work in Dutch school psychologists is actually that I was even chosen to represent them. So that’s school psychology it’s different than in Croatia. But, also nice. But my other work, with which I actually earn my money, is with those foundations for young people and children with problems. But five years ago also a lot more because a lot of work with trauma and also myself a lot more than trained in trauma and processing of trauma by, from MDR to many other techniques and methods, therapies. So I decided to open my own practice. So now that’s almost six years I have my own practice, and I also work in that European training centre. But your question was different. And your question was much more how did it go. Well [name], frankly, it’s tough. It’s hard, it’s, I can’t say I’m going to work and you’re doing that without me worrying, that I have fears that I won’t have sleepless nights. Yeah, it’s still mainly with private practice today, which is such a huge responsibility that I experience every day anyway. So it’s going well. Me, the practice is constantly full and I do have clients who send their own mothers or children to me, so it’s going well. But maybe as a person I’m always cautious and I’m always afraid I’m doing that right. Can people understand me well, can I understand them well. So it’s true.
[i] And that’s because you weren’t born in Holland. Is it that thought, or what do you say, what do you just say, so maybe that’s a small dose of insecurity, or maybe you see a little advantage in that?
[r] Yes, there are advantages too.
[i] Or your patients or people with whom you come into contact, do they sometimes experience that as an advantage, or how do they experience that, what do you think?
[r] My fear or perfectionism of being able to master the language and express oneself well remains. The advantage is also in other jobs but also now that a lot of foreign people live in Amsterdam. So clients are 50/50 approximately I also have a lot of Dutch people, but with foreign people that’s also an advantage. Especially with people from the Netherlands that we can do the sessions in our language. I also notice that other people, I also speak English, so also with people who want to speak English that’s not a problem. But as I said, a lot of Dutch people are with me as well. So that, the language should clearly not be a big problem. It goes much more in a sense of competence, competence I think, and I think that’s up to me. I want to set the bar very high and I’m doing well. But still you think you have to go even higher, which makes me feel that it’s actually hard work.
[i] Yeah. Now, about your husband. [name]
[r] Yeah.
[i] What does [name], can you tell us anything about it?
[r] Yeah. [name] is an engineer designer. So his specialty is actually central heating and air treatments. So if someone builds a house, then he does the design of yes, how many and how big the radiators should be the, I don’t know, the heaters and how should all that go everywhere as I understand it. But his specialty is, or he’s very good at, large buildings. So hospitals, schools, he’s been at Schiphol for a while now. So it’s not, it’s about very big projects.
[i] And he used to do that job in Croatia too?
[r] Yeah, he used to do it in Croatia, too. And when we came here, after Dutch was his second language, he could take a course in AutoCAD, that’s a program that allows you to do all that on a computer.
[i] Draw
[r] draw and calculate. And as a designer in principle in Croatia he just draws that with a pen and then you have draughtsmen who at that time just had to draw that. So for him it was very special and important that he also learns that program. Because that was already in that period, that it is only with AutoCAD you can do such things. So he also did that course, actually finished it very quickly, and found a job quite quickly. And since then he found the job he worked, I wouldn’t know five six years, more and then he got a permanent job at Hinch Engineering. But in the course of time at Hinch was, they started working with China, there was also talk, was eight years ago, that maybe we would go to China there too, that also ran in between so then. Four years maybe going to China we were all prepared for that too. But by, I don’t know, not really good payments from China, something had gone wrong with that company. They went bankrupt. Which means that as a 50-year-old man, it’s been 10 years, actually, without a job. And then it was like, “I have to find a new job. And yeah, I’m 50 and a foreigner. How’d that go? Very expensive. When he decided to start his own business. And ever since that first day of his independence until today, he’s been working all the time. So as far as work goes, he’s really very good at it. People, yeah he’s just, yeah he’s good at it.
[i] And [name], tell me about [name], your daughter.
[r] Our daughter [name] is 23 now. And she, that’s the last year of her studies, is on Master, and the Master’s name is, wait, that’s Marketing, Business, no International Business Marketing Management. Hey, always gotta think. I’m still not sure if it’s really called that, but it is. And she’s got six months left and then she’s done. And a very nice kid. Really still a child for us, of course. In those 23 years never, ever had anything that we think of as oops. Sure, I worry a lot. It’s the only child girl in Amsterdam. The city of rock ‘n’ roll, drugs and parties [parties] she’s been through. And yeah, that’s been really hard for us, for me more. But thankfully you have [name] that’s totally cool. And could always calm me down. And take responsibility for, well you let her go so if something happens it’s your fault. And he can always have that. But never really anything that we’re worried about. When you look at her life, you must really be very jealous. Beautiful life really, lots of friends, and huge social circle at school always okay, well, lots of interest, good, yeah, good relationships. Yeah, really great. Top kid.
[i] And
[r] And still every year with us to Croatia, on vacation.
[i] I just want to ask. You are Croats, so people who come from former Yugoslavia. Are you coming to Holland, but are you…
[r] We are actually Serbs.
[i] Yeah, okay.
[r] From Croatia.
[r] That’s the problem, yeah.
[i] You guys go to Croatia regularly on vacations, I guess. But what’s it like for [name]. So she’s what you said, so she’s going to be all right it’s an Amsterdam girl after all. So, I wonder how she herself experiences Croatia. Or country of your origin, or of her origin.
Yeah, her country of origin, she was born there. I think that’s also really defensively [gradually] with her that insight and awareness of who I came from. And as with many children who are also so not native, that period of identity, yes, is very difficult and very important and confused and blurred. And some of them have a lot of problems at that very moment. I also notice that for her in the first period when she was a child it was very important when we were in Croatia that she can speak Croatian very well. So she could also say something in Croatian like I am hungry. But if you translate that, so she does say that in Croatian, but and that’s awfully funny in Croatian. We never say I’m hungry, we say I’m hungry. That’s like we say. So if you say that in Croatian I’m hungry, everyone laughs. And that was very difficult for her. She could really cry from the moment people laugh. And everyone tells me that’s so cute that’s great that’s nice and… But I can see that that was very hard for her. And that started that realization of, but who am I? I can speak Croatian but I’m not understandable or people laugh at me actually. So that was painful. But as she grew a bit taller, she was happy that she could still speak Croatian. We tried to speak Croatian at home. So I often give advice to parents, children when they are little have a lot of trouble speaking two languages. So it is very important that they can speak Dutch at home, so that the adults do understand the parents Dutch so that you must also know Dutch well, or reasonably well. But that we as adults constantly speak our own language to children. And children can do that very well. So there is a period until her sixth year that she actually always speaks Dutch with us, so mostly what happens at school, she can’t speak Croatian. And we don’t want that either, tell that in Dutch. But we give her an answer, and we only talk to her in Croatian and that makes it fantastic that she can speak Croatian today and in principle she can talk to everyone in Croatia all those years. So that was good. But that realization, what was it like for her as she got older she could let go of that and she could ask for it without any problem. But how do you say that or help me with a word or with construction. So that’s why that, and children who can pick that up really quickly so in those three weeks usually that’s something very good. As a child she experienced Croatia as an enchanting country. Because we always go and went in Croatia only in the summer. So what is Croatia and what is grandma, grandpa and family members that is paradise [paradise], because it is just summer and warm and you do not have to go to school. Until the moment she was, well, end of primary school, that really was more of, hey but wait a minute. It’s not always like that. And it’s, are other things there. Somewhere during high school exactly in the period of identity she started to doubt if someone asks you who are you, what is she going to say. I think that was more like, basically always I’m from Croatia, but I’ve been here a long time. Because what I said to you that’s a really good idea that we, that she was in that elementary school her Dutch is so pure. Shall I say, or so good and correct that even as a child when someone asks her who are you from, I am from Croatia. Then they say people but then you certainly have a parent is Dutch. That’s how well she can speak Dutch. So if she is somewhere and you don’t ask for her last name, basically people think she is a Dutch woman now, girl. But if you ask her, she says I’m from Croatia. I think she then, she also said once I’m so proud that my last name ends in ‘ ic’.
[r] And something that took that away from her own country.
[i] Does she have any Croatian friends in her country?
[r] Yes. Yeah, well, if we’re going to Croatia, then the structure is very clear. The first week we are with my family, the second week we are with family of [name] and the third week we are usually with the, our friends. And then we either go sailing or walking or hiking in the mountains. So, and all those our friends also have children of almost the same age so there are a few young people. Those children and especially the daughter of my brother and the son of my brother with whom she is very close. But also with some children of our friends who are in Rijeka in the city, we call that. Then we don’t see her anymore, that’s all she is with them. And then they go too. This year she happened to be with a friend from Amsterdam, who is also from Croatia. She was in Sukosan and in Split and she was there and in Sibenik she was too. So then she’s gone. Then she’s with those kids. And now of course Facebook and they are in constant contact.
[i] But those are Croatian friends. But does she also have Croatian or people, does she also know people from former Yugoslavia here in Amsterdam?
[r] That’s just the one boy who, coincidentally, she met him at university. Because she talked to me on the phone and he heard the language… And with [name] she has been a friend for two, three years, and that is the only real boy from ex-Yugoslavia she has contact with. Otherwise just with our friends, and most of our friends have younger children. So she knows you, too, but not your children. Or that she’s with your children. And we were basically not acquaintances when we came here who have the same children of the same age were one, [name] a bit But with [name] she is not real. [name] also studies in The Hague so she doesn’t really have contact.
[i] And your social life? I mean from you and [name]. What kind of friends do you have, or even what kind of hobbies do you have? Can you tell me anything about that.
[r] Hobbies.
[i] Yeah.
[r] Hobbies or friends what do you want?
[i] First about friends
[r] Friends. Well, thank goodness. Very large circle of friends. Well that’s also something you, what you, without them I think would be very different. With those friends, that’s your life. We have 50/50 about, or more even Dutch friends. But not really Dutch friends either. Anyway, friends that we’ve gotten to know here, like people from our country, we’ve actually got to know them here. You too. So big, big that is, I’ve, I don’t know when I stopped, I think somewhere five six years ago, I really stopped to make appointments Saturday and Sunday. So that’s, nowadays it’s either Saturday or Sunday, but it’s every weekend someone we really like to sit at the table with and eat or clover coats. We also learned that with our Dutch friends.
i] Are you still connected or active in, I don’t know, Yugoslavian or Croatian, it doesn’t matter, but organizations or…
[r] No, no.
[i] No. Don’t those organizations exist or you don’t need them, why is that?
I wouldn’t know. The only information I basically get about what from certain meetings or if a great band comes from our country in country, is because of you.
[i] Okay.
[r] So if I get an email from you then I know, oh look [name] it happens something in Amsterdam.
Yeah, yeah. But okay, if you see for example in Pathé or Rialto or one of those movie houses a nice movie from former Yugoslavia, would you like to go there?
[r] Yeah, yeah.
[i] Yeah, well.
[r] Yeah, so, it’s also interesting because we have, I have three girlfriends I go to the movies with. Doesn’t really matter which movie. And since, unfortunately, two of them don’t have husbands anymore, [name] go with us, too. So regularly I go to the cinema with them and the last couple of years [name] also goes with us. And then if something is from ex-Yugoslavia then, unfortunately or fortunately, we do not call our Yugoslavian friends because we know they would go anyway. Sometimes [name] goes with us but basically that’s the three of us. So that is always that we, I think many of our Yugoslavian friends or Croatian, Yugoslavian in general also know those three other Dutch women. They are always with us. So if something happens, then we are always there with those three, or me alone with those three.
[i] You live in Amsterdam South.
[r] Yes.
[i] And that’s very long. How long is that?
[r] It’ll be 21 years now.
[i] Yeah. How do you feel about that? Has it changed a lot around here? How do you feel about a place like this where you live? Could you live it in another place in Amsterdam? Or, what are differences. Or, how do you see that.
[r] I don’t know, I don’t know. We’ve been here 21 years. We’ve got our roots really deep in here, so I personally think it would be very hard for us to really move. There were few attempts very early when we thought of well [name] is getting bigger and then the flat is too small for us. Had we looked at a few houses with an estate agent but they were all very expensive or not really suitable. So we said no more. Then [name] and [name] left and upstairs are two floors. Then [name] and [name] said, do you want to live wider? We don’t. In principle, we’re very happy here. So you know, it’s obvious, even that in the same building, we just don’t want to go upstairs. So I think that says it all. But if you say about change in Amsterdam. Here, we are super happy with this position because we are so on the border with the Pipe. Albert Cuyp is my market where, when I’m not working, there’s not only shopping but also drinking coffee. Lots out with all those people there behind the stalls. If I have been there for twenty years when I come to the fisherman they immediately shout ‘buck, buck’ which means hello [hello]. So baker, all those shops here, those are people you really talk to, every time you come that’s real: how is your daughter? How’s, how’s your hernia? That’s something you, uh, I wouldn’t miss. And the hairdresser who, that’s really all that’s been here in those 20 years. So I wouldn’t really want to miss that. Change, that’s very big change. Mainly museum square, was also moment when that was going to change how is that already twelve, fifteen years ago. When that really became everything, and kind of protest was here. The residents here don’t want that. But we thought: what’s wrong if you want something else? And then we realized that that street through the Rijksmuseum would no longer be. Maybe that’s not really good, then we went to protest together with our neighbors. But I do think that’s nice. I think it’s going to be more fun. I think it’s a beautiful museum square. But as far as people are concerned, it’s changed a lot. We have annual street party. And there are still people, very special people with whom they are very good they are still here. So except [name] and [name], unfortunately went to another place, was too high for those old people. But a lot of other neighbors that we really have a very close relationship with are still here. But then you see at the street party year in year out just new faces, new people, younger people. So nice, changes, but for the rest changes a lot in a better sense I think. It’s really, it’s gotten better. Hopefully until that subway is ready, that’s real, is really a…
[i] Hey can you tell me a little bit more about those street parties and other neighborhood activities? Do you guys participate in all those activities? How’s…
[r] Yeah, you know what kind of questions they ask? [name] The neighborhood is very active, it really is. They also have regular meetings, where I have given permission that I always want to read the report, that I know what they have discussed. But I have to tell you honestly, no I never go to those meetings. They are here at the Montessori Lyceum and I read that regularly, because interesting things happen there. And they do a lot of things, really. So there are three high schools here, and they’ve arranged that very well, and schools are really doing very well for the residents. We had a lot of kids who just smoke or blow in front of the door. They also have to have a hanging place, but they arrange that very well with kids. And it’s really good and quiet. And when they are, they are okay, neat, they really leave everything neat, and they also have actions to clean. So that’s okay. We also have two, three gardens that’s really for residents. The residents do a lot of things themselves, so that’s also very interesting. You have people who garden together. No, we do very rarely. The reason is probably if you can put all those puzzles together now. Basically, I have three very intensive jobs. [name] is, works full-time. Every Saturday he’s gonna play tennis with a friend, so Saturday’s already gone, even for us, but don’t say goodbye. So Sunday is just Sunday and then Sunday is usually the day for friends and then you make arrangements that we ourselves have very little time to sit down and do sudoku.
[i] Yes. And now about hobbies.
[r] Hobbies. Well, for [name] I already told you. So [name] plays tennis with his boyfriend every Saturday, and I think that’s great and special. Rain, not rain, not snow, they do.
[i] Where do they do that?
[r] Out fielding. Even if [name] leaves for his vacation in the afternoon, they play in the morning. Being so fanatical, and it’s been those years. But [name] has another hobby and that’s yoga. So he started ten, eleven years ago. That’s part of being in your fifties. Then you start thinking a bit about how healthy I am, how long I have left and things like that. So he quit smoking a long time ago and then about that time he just quit alcohol too. He wasn’t using that much either, he just started living a healthier life. And then he also started doing yoga. So every morning at a quarter past five he’s here in our living room doing one hour of yoga and meditation, and only then he goes to work. And that’s real, unless he’s sick, then he doesn’t. So I guess that’s his hobby. [name] has a lot of hobbies. From running to yoga as well, but she does a lot of tasting and doing a little bit with friends etcetera. What she is doing right now is writing for Mrs. Mokum, that’s a website there she writes column that is really a nice success she is doing really well. But yes, a lot of other things as well. And I don’t have a hobby, I really don’t have a hobby. My hobby is work.
[i] That is also possible.
[r] That’s also possible. That’s real.
[i] No, I know. You have a wonderful collection of music, very nice music.
[r] Yeah, that’s from [name].
Yeah, that’s, yeah, that’s more like [name].
[i] Yeah, that’s right, yeah.
[r] Good thing you say that.
[i] What kind of music is that? Can you describe it a little bit? What kind of music is it usually, what kind of music or… What kind of music or… No?
[r] Of everything, no of everything, it’s what I know, that’s what you have with him all the time. That’s why you know, that’s why you asked. But [name] always listened to music, that’s how I got to know him. And has a huge yes, a lot of music. What I know what he does is we listened to a French radio, that’s the FIP, and as soon as that’s something that attracts his attention, he’s just going to check it with iPhone, not with iPhone, he doesn’t have an iPhone, but with Blackberry, and then right away he’s going to look it up and possibly order it. And in that way in the last couple of years. Or does he write down, or does he look up and then and then of course with people just like you, those huge circle of friends are also a lot of people who are actually involved with music. And that’s where you hear a lot. And there you actually notice that he also plays a lot of music. What always surprised me, at first those names can never remember, I mean, it’s so special he hears if he reads first and he can remember that. He knows the names of bass players, drummer and everything. So what’s very special, when he’s in conversation with our friends, and when they say something he immediately knows: oh yeah that one, oh yeah that one. And that’s indeed, yes look I don’t have that at all as a hobby. I don’t see that as a hobby anymore, that’s something that belongs to [name]. That he knows, and what kind of music is that you know better than me, everything, it’s everything. From fado to well techno. And that really new one ain’t for [name]. But really, yeah.
[i] No I think he’s got a nice taste, you know.
[r] That’s what people say.
[i] Sure, sure, sure.
[r] And that’s nice because I’m, I’m not a victim. I’m just, how do you say, I’m constant with that music. I hear that all the time. Especially when you have to drive seventeen hours from here to Croatia. It’s always his music, and that’s something, good thing you said that. Look what’s interesting, it seems that [name] also very much, not seems, she also knows, she has enormous knowledge, by [name] as well. But then, and love for music for that and, but then, she also has her own taste and she also is with people with a lot of music background. She said that often when she comes to eat, oh daddy you know today we had about that, and then I said: oh my dad listens as well. So for her it’s also very interesting that she can always remember those names and remember music just like [name]. And so she has a very broad knowledge about it.
[i] And you go to Croatia regularly, once a year?
[r] Only in the summer.
[i] With the summer, yeah. And what are your plans for the future?
For the future. We don’t have any plans for the future. What I think now is that our old years would probably be spent here, depending on what’s going to happen to the world in general. But as the situation is now, elder care is much stronger and better here and there are more opportunities when you’re older than in Croatia. So I think we are going to do that here, so that we stay here as our nomad lives. That would also adhere a lot to where [name] would live. If [name] would go somewhere and she needs us, then I think for us if we are healthy would be no problem at all packing his suitcases and going in that direction.
[i] And no Croatia?
[r] No, where [name] would be, where [name] would be. And that could also be New Zealand or I don’t know, Antarctica. But maybe she would also stay here if the situation in Croatia in terms of care for the elderly would be better than it is now, then, we have a flat there, so that is also a possibility. Then we’ll see. Maybe 50/50, six months there six months here. But if we are really old and no longer able to be independent, I think that would be the Netherlands. Old people’s home.
[i] Yeah. From project we are looking for contributions from people who live in the city. What do you think, what could you possibly describe as your contribution to the life of the city of Amsterdam?
[r] Yes I think at least the only thing I know for sure as a contribution to here is my work. So I did a lot of crisis intervention in schools in Amsterdam. That’s also free work. So a lot of schools helped, parents and teachers and children but really that’s just my job. It’s also my job to make the decision to open a practice in a different way. Especially for a lot of people from our country, but as I said to you, there used to be a lot of Dutch people too. So it’s not just that that’s my job where I earn money, because I don’t work 45 minutes in a session like I’m paid, my sessions are an hour and a half. Purely because that’s impossible what limited possibilities we get. So that’s also the contribution to actually help people when they are in need, when they have problems, and if they want to come to me, I take that time. And that’s actually indirect help to the city.
[i] Sure. Nice, thank you. I found it really interesting. Is it something I didn’t ask you, but you think: hey I want to tell you that or I asked very little about your childhood was you
[r] Was okay.
[i] A girl in Croatia in party and maybe something is, you see…
[r] Parents.
Yeah about your parents. So we didn’t talk much about that. You also brought something related to your parents. And do you want to tell us about that?
[r] Anyway.
Yeah. What about childhood if you look at [name], so your daughter, who has a pretty nice happy life in Amsterdam, if you’re going to compare yourself to her?
[r] Also, too. My childhood and my youth were okay. Wonderful parents I had, too. Hard working, maybe something that that perseverance that I have anyway clearly everyone says that, so should. My parents were architects. Oh my gosh, how much time do you have?
[i] Enough.
[r] Well look, Dad was born in Vojvodina and when he was eighteen, there was World War II and he was in Belgrade. That was the last year of his high school. And when he decided to go to Partisans. But when he was eighteen, he wasn’t really allowed to fight on the, uh…
[i] On the front line. [front line]
[r] go on the front [front], but he was allowed to make graffiti with other young people in Belgrade. So what they did, they wrote at night, I do not know, Tito and party [party] and Germans have to leave. And so those paroles [orders] they did now one night they get caught. The German patrols [patrol] was and he was also wounded and that’s why he was captured he couldn’t run away, and taken to Auschwitz. So daddy was actually happy there, but that was already ’44, and he was in hospital in Auschwitz because the wound had gotten worse. And partisans captured German soldiers, and then they could change for the wounded partisans. So that was my father’s great fortune that he was wounded to get out anyway, yeah. And he was hospitalized in Zagreb, and he was good too, and that was the end of the war in ’45. And as a partisan and Communist he was allowed to choose where to study and he decided to stay in Zagreb and study architecture where he met my mother. She was also studying there. When they were finished they had the opportunity, that was socialism, to get a job in Sarajevo, both and a house. And of course, as young people, they just moved to Sarajevo. And that’s where my brother was born, six years before me, and then me. But when I was two years old my brother got asthma and the family doctor advised me to be on the coast as often as possible and to go to the sea, to the sea air actually. And then parents decided, we’re just going to move to the sea, to the coast. And that is why we went from Sarajevo to the coast in Rijka. First in Pula and then, because there weren’t enough universities and good schools in Pula for us, we moved to Rijeka and stayed there. So it was already with my parents a kind of nomadic life. Couple of years there, couple of years there. Depends on actually always looking after kids and what would be good for them. Two great people. Dad was the director of a construction company and Mom was a college lecturer. But in those days they could also, that was the only private possibility in those days of Yugoslavia, if they could make designs for the houses, because that was from big tree [increase] of weekend houses. So half of Medulin is my parents’ projects. So yeah I just remember, they work. And then you know in our country you work till 3. So then they come home at half past 4, 4 then we eat together and then in our children’s room, was a very big room, where we had those two very big tables, you know those tables that you can bend, and then because they make projects. They design the houses. That was the private work and that was, yeah, every night and weekends and very soon I was allowed too. Was in elementary school, what would maybe be high school here. They make the first design in pencil and then you come across that pope [lime] paper, pope [lime] paper and then I was allowed…
[i] Lime paper is what they call it here.
Yes, exactly.
I’ve got something else. Now that you mention it, look.
We’re gonna draw like this.
[r] So at the time when I was allowed to do that with that rapidograph [pen]. Was this box? You see, it’s with me now.
[i] Oh, oh yeah.
[r] That was the box that was no longer in use because then came rapidograph. And Rotring [pen] and this one doesn’t have to anymore but that was always there.
[i] And that’s Pelican brand. I think Pelican was from Zagreb, is a Croatian or Yugoslav brand, right?
[r] Germany, made in Germany. [Germany]
[i] Okay, sorry I made a mistake again.
[r] Anyway, a reminder of my parents.
[i] How nice and that. Yeah, okay.
[r] And that possibility that they had me without, well they didn’t have time they had to make designs, so to speak. And my brother and I, yeah that was our job, so I could go very early
[r] Actually, with rapidograph only,
[i] Signing
[r] check that’s it. Yeah yeah yeah so sometimes we all work in that room, laughing and joking.
[i] Cosy
[r] Yeah, who’s gonna make dinner, what are we gonna eat and then. Yeah. We haven’t bought anything or we’ve gotta go to the kitchen and cook, and then we look at each other all four, scrambling eggs. [scrambling eggs] Yeah. Everybody had to finish, so it was a nice… But there are also period we have weekend house also, because you must also have a weekend house especially if you are an architect, and that is really with our hands, mainly hands of my father, built. That’s period this month we buy tiles, and then next month we buy cement for the tiles, and then third month we’re going to do that ourselves. That’s not.
[i] Something about your dad. Does he ever tell you anything about that Auschwitz period?
[r] No, no. And I only got that story later, maybe twelve, thirteen I was, because he’s got a lot of cramps in that one and then I knew, you can still see that little part of something in his leg. So you could touch that. But because that was also the period that he later left the Communist Party and didn’t want to be involved in politics anymore. It’s just, he was just young at the time. And it wasn’t good in communist country to leave that party. If you never were, okay, but that you want to go out that was also a bit weird so that was very little talked about.
[i] What year was it then that he decided to go out? About ’70 or…
No, I don’t think I was born yet. So my brother was born, so that was the late ’50s.
[i] Yeah, okay.
[r] Late ’50s.
[i] Special.
[r] Don’t ask me why, maybe it would be good to ask my mom now. But because that was a little taboo in the house, we never asked about that. But I think that was also a kind of knowing you in Sarajevo in that period, also a kind of intellectual young people who were also very much occupied with reading other philosophical pieces or approaches or thoughts. And he was never for Russia either, but honestly I think knowing my father he never had time for. It was typical, like me actually, was very much busy with his work and later build that house and…
[i] And…
I have to ask Mom, actually.
[i] Yeah.
[r] She’s still alive, so
[i] Yes, you should.
Before she gets demented.
[i] Yes.
[r] Yes.
[i] And of course it would also be interesting to know what your father would say or think about a situation that suddenly broke up Yugoslavia, that’s it.
[r] I know because daddy was…
[i] Yeah, yeah.
[r] My father hasn’t been dead for six years now. That was really awful for him, that was real, he was real… Anyway, some problem was nationalities. So we were in Croatia, they were in Croatia. And then all of a sudden Croatia became independent, and then a, “popis stanovnistva” [census] had to inhabit… Well, the list of all the residents of the city. And that was a list where people come home, and then they start asking all kinds of questions. And that was so creepy for him, and why do we have to now, and why is that at all. But indeed that separation, that was so painful for him in the old days, we want to go together and now we’re breaking up. But like a lot of other things, Daddy wasn’t really a talker. So you could see on him that, and he was then, that was twenty years ago. He died eighty-five, no eighty, sixty he wasn’t that old actually, yeah sixty. But I’d really rather not have that.
[i] So
[r] But really, it’s not someone who’s arguing about what he’s thinking.
[i] So he was certainly critical of that new regime, of all those nationalist parties that suddenly came to power. Not all of a sudden, just elected by the people. But didn’t he have a clear
[r] Opinions
(i) Opinions or statements made or…
[r] No.
[i] No, no, no
[r] Daddy wasn’t. Daddy doesn’t talk about that.
[i] No, and mom?
[r] Mommy is, Mommy is, she’s, she’s a Croatian woman. Her mother was Croatian, okay grandpa is Czech. But the whole family, she’s from Zagreb. The whole family is Croatian. So for mama, independence wouldn’t have been such a big problem. It was painful for daddy, or her worry how would it be for daddy. And her huge worry and huge tears that we left.
[i] Yeah, yeah.
[r] So on the one hand, she was like, “Go away because you never know. But on the other hand, yeah, the daughter goes away and she never notices. So the only pain when we talk about my parents and my staying here, or leaving for Holland is that I can’t help my parents, or my father I couldn’t help when he was sick. I couldn’t help my mom with dad. There is no home care or help in the house that my mother and my brother all did. And that’s the biggest pain that I couldn’t be there as my brother’s daughter or sister. And now it is. Mommy is still very healthy. But that I can’t be with her right now, that’s the biggest problem. My mom was happy [happy] that we’re gone. And for her, yes, that war and everything, they’ve already been through it, otherwise. And so they were in one, were sixty, sixty-five, was like: if only that’s it. And what they decide, decide if you just, with children go well.
[i] Yeah.
[r] That’s always a problem. My brother was on the front , he was on the front [front]. And that was a very difficult time for everyone.
[i] So he was in, say, the Croatian army?
[r] Yeah.
[i] Yeah. No I can imagine it would, that would, that was definitely big disappointment for your father. If say Partisan as someone who was in Auschwitz also had someone who certainly, had ideal for that, who fought and suddenly you see that that…
[r] Just like that.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
[r] [name], I don’t know
[i] Don’t you know
[r] I don’t know, Daddy talks to me a lot and a lot. I was his little princess. We get along very well. I could drive with fourteen because of Dad, of course, so I had such a good relationship with him. But is that upbringing or is that feeling of emotions and at what time and what can you say and what can you ask was clear that he doesn’t want to talk about that. And that is what we always learn in our culture. Respect for the elderly. You’re not going to ask your own need of me to know what you think and what he thinks, how is that for you if he doesn’t have that left then you’re not going to ask, and that was daddy. You know if there’s anything you don’t ask.
[i] Now something completely different, to what extent do you talk to your [name] about war in former Yugoslavia about the situation in the 90’s, and also about now post-war period?
[r] Period
[i] Yes
[r] Yes.
[i] Is it something you say but how much [name] knows about that?
[r] Little, little. So you just see transaction of the same upbringing and the same little. As a very small child, absolutely nothing real, with maybe six, seven. When she was six, seven years the reason why we are here came up, well knowingly, only then and what is war and the biggest problem was, how to explain a child. If we stayed there that she is bullied at school and is not allowed to play with other children because her name is [name], and that is a Serbian surname. So that’s also why we decided to leave and become foreigners, in a foreign country. That you can tell your child if you are bullied, then yes we are foreign. Then you have reason, but in your own country it was really very difficult for us, was very difficult for us to imagine. So we try here and we were lucky that she was in a school that was the only refugee who was really beloved child in the classroom, in the school, the school staff [staff] was so positive to us and her that she was really up to six, seven years not really aware at all what it is to be a foreigner and, so that was nice. We were a bit aware of that too, aware how much you can’t do that, bullying can’t really be avoided. But fortunately she has been a very social child from a very young age, so that was okay. And we made a lot of contact with the parents very quickly, so that was really nice. As she grew a bit taller we slowly started to tell about how much you know and you understand that. And I think that with a lot of people here that’s the accent we all have, well why [name] says playing on the piano and not we say playing on the piano. Those are two different ones in Serbian and in Croatian, and then we slowly started explaining that to her, and maybe anxiously what she’s going to say about why she, why we’re gone. And as I said to you Croatia has always been an idealistic beautiful country for her. So slowly we tried to explain it to her, and only at fourteen or fifteen did she realize it.
[i] So you explained clearly.
[r] And postponed.
[i] What was the reason that you are…
[r] Here.
[i] here. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
[r] But not right away.
[i] Yeah, yeah, okay.
[r] Not really brought up to talk is for other people and other nationalities or afraid of the war or those who… No, we’re really trying to keep her up to her six, seven years or so just normal developments. Because you have to be aware that that’s the first two years she was at war. We were in the basement when the avione, planes went to Bosnia, then we had to be in the basement. Were also sirens and were also fears and as a psychologist I know that too, our stress and worries and fears go to child so she has a lot already along… And that [name] was gone for six months, that’s suddenly a person who was with her every day, because he got fired when war started as a Serbian, so he was at home with her and I was working, and then suddenly he was gone. So how can you explain to a child a [of] one and a half that daddy’s gone. She’s always looking. So she’s got a lot of that already so we’ve decided, okay just try to live normal as you can. And thanks to those great people we were able to do that too. And then introduce later and slowly learn how was that and why is that, we don’t know.
i] Did [name] get fired, had it to do with the fact that he wasn’t really pure Croat, that was…
Yeah, yeah he was Serbian.
No, but that was just plain obvious reason?
[r] I remember when war really started, then I stayed, I was pregnant, and then, that’s another thing in our lives we, I was first pregnant when I was 25, but unfortunately that first child is dead and two years later I was pregnant by [name]. So I was, I was supposed to stay home when I was three months pregnant. For the rest of the pregnancy I had to be at home. And as you know in Yugoslavia, Croatia also now, maternity leave is one year. So I basically had a year and a half I was home and that was exactly the period when I remember, I was just pregnant when we were on television breaking news [latest news], and suddenly something is about then in Slovenia war has started. So that was for all of us, all that my pregnancy and maternity leave was the beginning of the war. And when [name] was one year old, so [name] was home. I went to work as a school psychologist. And then I came into a school in teachers’ room, which was a school in Croatia are very large, that’s a school of two thousand children, so the teachers’ room is huge actually and there are about two hundred teachers. So when I got there the first day, and I’ve been working for six years, and I know every time someone comes back from maternity leave that’s a big party that everyone, that’s a very big welcome. And I came there and everybody, I knew they know I’m coming, and then you, you came into teachers’ room, then you have a group of people together, group of people there and a group of people here.
[i] And those were
[r] Muslims, Croats and Serbs
[i] Wow
[r] Who worked together for years never, but out of nowhere. You see in the groups of I do not know teachers of mathematics or teachers of you know the language. And I came in, and I noticed right away that you know that the teacher of the upper school is together with the lay teacher of the inner school [junior school], from above but it wasn’t before, what is that and then suddenly, right away that’s [name], that’s that you know. Well look I’m getting goose bumps again. And it wasn’t welcome because they didn’t know who I was. I was born in Sarajevo, I have surname [name], so how dare I come back to work at all if I don’t have anything from Croatia, and if I am Croat, how dare I still be married to Serbian. The teachers, the teachers, the education so that was the welcome. And then I said my mother is Croatian, my mother is Croatian. Okay half-breed. May I come in.
[i] Yeah.
Yeah, but why did you ask me that? I don’t know.
[i] No, but okay now you’re in Amsterdam, it’s also a multi…
[r] Multiculti
[i] culturally, that’s just metropolis, of course, with all those one hundred and seventy one hundred and eighty nationalities and so on. And then you feed your own child but you also help with raising, yes just, yes raise other children and you have that experience. You have it, you know what’s the value of such a society. It’s so rich in all kinds of diversity of culture and stuff. Do you use that? Is it something for you what do you have, maybe you have more strength or more knowledge or is that experience important for you as a mother, as a resident of Amsterdam but also as a psychologist, is it something that…?
[r] Yeah for me that’s a, the feeling of relief actually. And over the years you become more and more aware of how wonderful that is. And how we have enormous differences, but on the base, mainly in my work, there is no difference. It’s really no difference. So and the upbringing, well back to [name] and her white school. Real white school, so only Dutch people. And then when she was 5, she really wanted to play harp. Then we went to music, I wanted to enroll her in music school, and then you have one here in the Bachstraat that’s in South, but I have her in music school at the Wibautstraat on purpose, there’s a music school there. Precisely to learn and acknowledge. Then she went to ballet also in Pijp. Also a lot of activity, but yes we also had a lot of friends here who are not Croatian or Yugoslavian people. But our best friend is from Singapore, and her children are my foster children. So there are a lot of other ways as well. What [name] is actually very well aware of, her best friend is [name] and this is from Senegal. You see that is the only picture with a friend it is from Senegal. So it went spontaneous you would say but experience knowledge. On Altra I worked in Bijlmer and there is a population of very many people from Suriname so also colleagues from Suriname were… And I remember that I once said, I do not see the color of the skin. They are dark of course, yes, within two, three minutes if you work with a colleague or get to know, yes you do not see that color anymore. You talk about clients, you talk about problems, you talk, and I was in charge. So my goal was just to make those people stronger as much as possible. To give them as much content and knowledge as possible, that they can work with children and parents. So, and they were much better in Dutch than I was.
[i] Yeah, yeah, yeah
[r] So that was a whole, there’s no difference. If you see that as a human being, and that may be with us and our profession, that’s that we want that or not our job is to crawl a little bit into people to feel real real empathy and not sympathy, empathy. And if you can do that, and if you feel that, then there is no limit. Then it doesn’t really matter where you come from, what you do. How good, how bad, how what, those are no limits.
[i] If you look at current developments, or not current developments but developments of last we’ll say eight years or so. Since, just to be exact, since Pim Fortuyn’s death or 9/11 and so we’re all a bit aware I think that world has changed a bit. And certainly also situation in the Netherlands. And how do you see that as someone who comes from a country that has split up, where all values have been totally reversed, and suddenly that resulted in terrible war. Tell your circle of friends or colleagues, or would you like to tell something, or would you like to tell something. Wait a minute, maybe I want to tell you something?
[r] About
[i] Because if you…
[r] experience
[i] Yes, yes on the basis of experiences you have in your private life and look at current developments in the world.
[r] [name], yes if someone would ask me something I would say my opinion about it, but just like that I wouldn’t: hey wait a minute what do you think about that. What do you think about that if I asked.
[i] But here you are being asked.
[r] Yeah, right here.
[i] By this
[r] And I have to pee
[i] Okay.
[i] Then we’ll do very short, then we’ll round off yes [yes].
[r] Okay
[i] Message, last message.
Last message. Yeah well, I think my personal opinion is really my personal opinion. What makes me a lot of things that happen in society, not only in the Netherlands but everywhere in the world, I think a lot of people, is really my opinion,
[i] So do i.
[r] that we absolutely, and therefore I absolutely, cannot influence what you do. Even with fantastic demonstrations or something, I think there are people in the world who determine a lot of things for us. Anyway, it’s about the, I think, production of iron so of weapons. As soon as that part is not under control or is reduced at all or is in some other way investment [investment] for those people who wanted that money I see absolutely no peace [peace] and freedom and something that would be good. So that’s what I think. I think that. People are more and more taught to develop fear everywhere. From big things of war or violence, to very small things. And the world continues to develop into an individualism, putting enormous pressure on that individual to perform, to achieve something, not to make any mistakes. And that’s such a wrong way to grow up and develop, that I’m afraid it’s not going to become something constructive, human, understandable, empathic again. Or is less and less. Of course there have been some moments in history when something does turn around, economically perhaps that’s a bit better purely because young people are going to think of something in which way we are going to put it right or even better. There are a lot of things that do happen, so that’s nice. The only problem I see is parents and children. I think that young people these days are really much more concerned with themselves. When I also talk to parents, they are so busy with themselves that we don’t get to what your child needs until the fourth, fifth session. And that’s necessary, that’s necessary. So, I’m also training on social media right now. A lot of pictures that I have on my powerpoint are two parents behind the mobile phone and child who waits and gives no attention. So that’s a bit of a danger, how long is it going to take that people are too much real with gambling behavior behind the screen. As a result of which children get less and less communication with the parents and therefore their less and less communicative and social skills, yes just goes wrong so that later they have big problems to be social. So we see more and more social panic-like problems in our profession. How difficult it is to talk to your neighbour. So it is not for very big people to stand and lecture, it is now also afraid to say hello to your neighbor. So, that’s more Was that the answer to your question?
[i] Yeah, yeah. Well, thank you, really.
[r] You’re welcome.
[i] It’s super fun conversation. We have to, well, we don’t have to, but it’s a deal to wrap this up.
[i] But as far as I’m concerned, I could sit here and talk to you for hours, and I’d love to. Thank you again.
[r] You’re welcome. [r] Thank you.
[i] Okay.