Angie about Fall Seminar in Novi Sad 2017
Last week, I was given the opportunity to participate in the Phiren Amenca Fall Seminar on Challenging Antigypsyism in Novi Sad, Serbia. This was my first experience with the Phiren Amenca team and one that I found imperative to my growth as a strong ally to Roma communities. The conference was a fantastic space to network with others who share the same passion for social justice and to expand my knowledge of the many oppressive realities which extend beyond Serbia’s borders. I loved learning about the various ways in which we as a community can improve these situations through local advocacy and connecting with NGOs, but enjoyed my working group experience the most.
My working group was given the task of addressing Roma issues through art. We chose to do two different photo projects. The project I was a part of created a photo exhibition which attempted to answer the question, “What does it mean to be Roma?” The idea was for people who identify as Roma to voice what makes them feel connected to their Roma roots and to showcase that identity is an expansive field that should not be defined by country origin or skin color. Each photo that we took had the response to that question attached beneath that participant’s photo. The responses ranged from Roma being synonymous with terms such as “power” and “pride” or were even as open as “It is whatever we make out of it.” I thought this idea worked well and was effective given the time frame! It also let me understand more about my fellow participants and the pride connected to being Roma. We will continue to work with the video footage and hopefully produce a video with can be shared online so that the project can be viewed on multiple platforms. Photos can be seen here: https://www.facebook.com/pg/PhirenAmenca/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1523122267776870
Overall, this seminar created the unique circumstance in which voices from across Europe could share their opinions and experiences in a common space, and provided the tools necessary to transform our common passion into advocacy. I can’t wait to rejoin this team again for the regional seminar!