Friday, March 21, 2008

Belgrade riots - update

Although it's been a month since the protests in Belgrade erupted that February evening, the calm on the streets has not rolled back time. Plywood has replaced most of the windows on the lower floor of the US Embassy. Paint has covered up some of the scorch marks, while others are quite evident. The outer layer of the treated window glass in the street level entrance of the embassy retains its web-like shatteredness. Inside, things are very quiet, with non-essentsential personnel evacuated. Elsewhere along Knez Milosa "aka embassy row", some diplomatic buildings remain gated and a couple with faded paint marking where their country's emblem signs once hung, gone along with the diplomats.

At school things are quieter as well. Desks of US Steel and US embassy children still remain empty. Classmates miss their friends who had to leave so suddenly - some never to return. Aside from some British families, most of the kids remaining at school are non-native English speakers, which makes instruction and group work a bit more challenging. We were also short a few teachers, two temporarily away to assist the evacuated students at their temporary schools, and one ordered to evacuate due to her status as a non-essential embassy family member status. The hope is that if Belgrade remains calm through the soon-to-be anniversary of the 1999 NATO bombing, then some will be able to return to Belgrade and back to school.

Even if the anniversary passes quietly, it will take some time before Serbia can begin to erase its negative, violent perception in the eyes of the world. It is my hope that with the new elections in May (the prime minister stepped down), a more EU-focused government can help move the country forward and away from potential isolationism.

1 comment:

D said...

Took a moment to read your blog today. I appreciated the objectivity of it as well as the perspective of someone who was originally a Wisconsinite like me.

I look forward to reading more from you. Stay safe.