A while ago, Branislav Olujic left for the United States, to the Ohio University, as a graduate student. As we discovered, he got accustomed very well, and is making unhurried and certain progress. After all, what else could you expect from "our" man. Here are his opinions on the current issues (we received them through the Internet).

Q:To start with, what is it like to be Bane Olujic these days in the US?

Well, it is like this. Bane is a graduate student (taking a Master's degree) in the US, studying hidrogeology at the Ohio University, a little, private and affluent school in south Ohio. I am still a novice here, but not for long. I graduated from the School of Mining and Geology a few years ago, applied here, was accepted - and here I am.

Q:Could you define America for us in five terms?

America is not so difficult to define in five words. It is not a complicated country.

  1. MONEY Money here is the most important issue. The only goal of the average American is to get rich as quickly and ruthlessly as possible. This is based on the Protestant philosophy that wealth, i.e. money, is a gift from God, so the more you earn, the closer you are to Him. Money is an attitude and the manner of thinking. The universal measuring criterion for everything. Except for human values.
  2. For the purpose of measuring people, WORK is used. I don't know what Japan looks like, but it is certain that people here are raising work to a pedestal. You are as worthy as the quality and the amount of work you perform, no matter what. You work day and night. If you don't work, there is only one justified reason for that. Illness. The best and quickest way for a person to be condemned by the Americans is lazy behavior. Those who don't work "out of belief" are completely isolated and are considered number one enemies of the society. I suppose that this is logical for a country with an unemployment rate below 5 percent, with a tendency toward further decrease.
  3. ORDER Criminals and psychopaths are being confined here. They are not present in the media, nor are driving around in luxurious cars behind stained glass. Their number is just sufficient for Hollywood to film an occasional suspense drama about them, so they don't completely fade out of the people's minds. And even they are ours! Everybody pays taxes, and if you refuse to do so, you receive a prison term of the same length as if you committed homicide. The police are present, but completely invisible. The mass Freak-show on the streets is unknown. You say "Good day" to Mr. policeman when you pass him by. If you steal something you will be probably be sent to a psychiatrist. The worst crime for those under 21 is forging I.D.s in order to enter bars, since serving alcohol to minors is extremely punishable.
  4. LOGIC Everything is functioning, there is a rule and a way for everything. Nobody molests you just because they got up on the wrong side of the bed. People are natural, and any "outpouring" of nervousness, affectation, unkindness and similar acts are quite unusual. You register for the examinations over the phone, and it takes no more than 2 to 3 hours to get a driver's licence, from the moment you take the tests and the driving exam. Time is money, and the disrespect of somebody's time - an offense.

Q:How do the media cover the situation in Serbia and how much? (whose side are they on?)

And now, the favourite subject of every true Serbian. Politics. The American media (at least when they are addressing their public and especially if foreign "affairs" are concerned) have a tendency to state everything that's on their minds. Our situation is profusely covered. Their reactions are quite positive, but sustained as well. One gets an impression from the information the media supply, that the Serbs are only waiting for spring to arrive so they can show the reds the way out. It wouldn't be appropriate to throw them out on this cold. At the same time, there are reasons for reserve. The Americans are not hiding that, for the purpose of "preserving peace at home" they supported Milosevic and his regime, even more than it was necessary. However, since the ideals of democracy and liberty are a principle of the American policy, and if you go by the logic that only an acknowledged mistake can be a corrected mistake, someone from the Republican party pointed out nicely (before the press) to Mrs. Albright that her foreign policy towards Serbia is a failure and that instead of her "fancy" for Milosevic, she should have foreseen "the tendency towards the formation of democratic forces" and acted appropriately. On the other hand, the Americans, although greatest world experts in appointing puppet regimes and "friendly dictators", don't want to interfere this time. That should be a compliment to us, enabling us to perform a complete democratic metamorphosis through the evolution we ourselves started, without outside assistance. Only those who are inferior need assistance, and we are not; they are well aware of it here. There is an old saying that every people has the authorities it deserves. We can only acquire the respect from the world (I will avoid saying "the improvement of the picture the world has of Serbia", I am allergic to their slogans) in one way - by self-respect.

The general evaluation would be "you see, they are not what we imagined them to be". The sights on the CNN, usually from the student demonstations, performed a great job. The country where a cult of George Washington still exists, of a man who arose with a handfull of supporters to fight an enormous empire, can understand the Belgrade "David versus Goliath" story very well.

Q:What is the disposition of the Americans towards us?

Being a politician in the US is like being a doctor, pilot or baker. It is a profession and the politicians are elected to perform their work, i.e. to free the people from dealing wiyh politics. An average American is completely apolitical, most frequently without any attitude toward the political issues that go beyond the local (Democrats, Republicans, taxes, social security, O.J. Simpson or not?..) or without interest for the same. For this reason, one cannot speak about a general opinion on the events in Serbia. People see some students who are demonstrating over some injustice, and think well of them, because they are brave and young and their causes are most certainly righteous, because they are rebelling against someone who is a communist and who caused the war in Bosnia. The only way an American can have an opinion about us is if he knows somebody from Serbia. Our people are highly respected here, both for their skill and great adaptability. You can say that the Americans enjoy our vivid mentality, although they cannot seem to grasp it completely. They find that the events in Serbia are unfortunate, and they've been known to ask: "Is all that's been going on there good or bad for you?". Things haven't been very clear to them before, and they still aren't. In any case, what's important is that the political America has determined itself.

We are always represented here by the people who are close to the American understanding of things, such as Divac or Danilovic; after all, the governor of Ohio is Serbian by origin - George Voinovich.

Can I send out a message?

  1. The girls in Belgrade are the prettiest on the whole planet. Cindy Crawford is the hottest looking here, that is why they exploit her so - they don't have a spare.
  2. I hear that the boss Milan (Panic) seems to be coming home. Help him, the guy is a wizard!
  3. You did a wonderful job, and I missed a first-class party.

And please, have someone play "I want to know" once, and turn the volume all the way up for me. I heard that Cavke is gone.

Greeting from Lower Athens Ohio County


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