circle the A in volim te

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and on the football pitch…

..somebody is always burning garbage and toxic whiffs of it ride the slight breeze this morning. Its already 33 C. Its 730 am, I’m sweating and I’m hoping for rain. … I read that its pouring in Croatia!… please come this way storm clouds…PLEASE !

Every year there are two memorial football tournaments in Preoce. The first is a 10 day long Serb memorial tournament and the second is the 1 day Roma memorial tournament.

In the first, Serb teams from all over the area came to compete at the asphalt football pitch in the center of the village. In 2002 two Serbian men were killed when they drove over an IUD planted by the UCK (KLA) Kosovo liberation army (U.S backed Albanian Army).This was three years after the war had officially ended. This football match is in their honor.

Although the games were fun to watch with the Roma kids and family’s from the mahala ( Roma neighborhood), there was a very real apartied in effect.  Even though Roma and Serbs live together in the KFOR (NATO police force) protected enclaves of Kosovo, there were no Roma players on any of the teams, which everyone of my students made sure to tell me. The bleachers were full of Serbs cheering for their favorite teams, while all the Roma families sat or stood on the grass outside the fence of the football field. The separation was unofficial and yet complete. Very late in the games one night, I saw some of the Roma teenagers start to move warily from outside the fence into the corners of the bleachers, seemingly testing the waters to see what they could get away with.

On the last evening, during the finals of the tournament, when emotions were high, (as high as the level of intoxication), I stood near the corner of the bleachers (outside the fence) with some Roma boys from the neighborhood. A small army of Serb teenagers walked by repeatedly trying to stare us down and laughing, claiming their turf.. …. Although I looked them in the eye each time they passed, none of the Roma boys dared. After 15 minutes of this intimidation, I asked my teenage friends if they wanted to leave. All agreed we should go, so we walked back home together. On the way back home, Elvis *, my friend as well as one of my students, told me that this same kind of thing also happens at school. ….that fights break out, that Roma kids get laughed at. Its not that there isn’t genuine friendship between some Serb kids and Roma kids, there is, it’s the pervasive prejudice that the Roma face everyday that was so apparent that night.

*yup that’s right Elvis is a common Romani name in Kosovo, as Elvis Presley is said to have Romani blood, I don’t know if he ever identified with his Romani ancestry.

Roma Memorial Football Tournament

One week later was the Roma memorial football tournament, a one-day event, commemorating the brutal killing of two Roma men from Preoce. In 2001, there were 4 Romani men from Preoce who were in Pristina, the capital of Kosovo, looking for work. They were threatened and told to leave the city by some Albanian men. Some Albanians see the Roma as Serb collaborators during the war, although there is no evidence to back this up. It’s unclear to me if these Albanian men were members of the UCK  (KLA Kosovo liberation army).  Two of the Romani men were kidnapped and brutally murdered and two of the men escaped and now live abroad. The murdered men’s bodies weren’t identified until 2 years later by KFOR.

The tournament lasted about 8 hrs with the town of Lapiselo (with the red “FLY EMIRATES” jerseys) being the victors. Everyone got to play, (all males that is) from the little kids to the adults. It was great to see some of my friends playing, they are such good players…amazing! Unlike the Serb tournament, where lots of Roma family’s came out to watch, there were only a handful of Serbs at the Roma tournament. When I asked my dear friend Hisen why this was, his response “we’re just dirty gypsies to them”… and again its not universally true, as Hisen would say later, but just where were all the Serbs at the Roma tournament?

When the tournament was over, there was a celebration for the victors  at Hisen and Sadeta’s house. Everyone came back from the match with bloody knees (asphalt football pitch) and stories of the best goals and biggest mistakes.

Lapiselo!

hello from the roma mahala……

Dragi friends,

Sorry I haven’t sent out this update sooner! I made it to Kosovo and im in the warm graces of good friends. Everyone here is so very happy that I came back… they didn’t expect it.

My days are really busy, im teaching 3 classes! A 3 hour intensive English class for young adults ages 15 to 23. Many of these students were in class with me the last time I was here. I’m also teaching two evening classes, one for young kids, ages 6 to 9 and one class of beginner English to students ages 10 to 19. All of the classes are going great and the two evening classes keep growing in size…. so much so that we had to stop the really little ones from coming to class. An army of 4 and 5 year olds show up on the road to the school everyday at 6pm shouting my name or singing songs we learned together. They really want to come to class. It was difficult to tell them that there was no room for them, as the class already has 15 students and the classroom is really small.

…so….what with teaching, preparing lessons, getting the materials together for the lessons, (which takes a lot of time as nothing is near by), helping students with homework… my days can be 12 hours long!…

With the younger students we play games, sing songs, do art projects and are filling the walls of the center with beautiful drawings. With the beginner English class we do role plays of everyday things, and for some reason they really like tests… as everybody wants to be “the best”. Many of these students cannot write in any language. In the intensive English class, we do everything, reading, writing, listening and speaking. I’m trying to raise some extra money to go on field trips with this class. There is a swimming pool nearby, a mountain not so far away for picnics… and I would really like to take them out into the Albanian community. There is a town on the Albanian border called Prizren, its really beautiful there and a much more tolerant place than some of the other Albanian towns in Kosovo. There is still a lot of fear amongst my students with going into an Albanian community, but they said if I go with them and we speak English the whole time… “we should try”.

…ok that’s all for now although there is so much more to tell! ….The patriarchy here is still killing me with its violence and stupidity and I am still resisting in small ways by doing “women’s work” with my host moms everyday……

…… more about that, Serbian nationalism and the year 1389, how to deal with gay jokes in class, why I don’t believe in god, talking about sex with 16 year old boys, why all Albanians aren’t “bad people”, cultural appropriateness, potholes the size of swimming pools and the art of driving in Kosovo and why the world cup would be more fun for me if there were no flags or corporate advertising….

..all that with more photos in updates to come.

I miss you all!  xo

voice of roma education center!

three upcoming benefits for the voice of roma education center in kosovo!

Come out for a beautiful slide show, short film and discussion about the Roma of Kosovo. Presenting and joining the discussion will be me, Marko, educator and activist. I teach at the (Roma led) Voice of Roma education center in Kosovo.

I will share stories of some of the current politics of the region, some of the affects of the war and current relations of Roma people with their Serbian and Albanian neighbors. How religion is playing a role in this region (many Kosovo Rom are Muslim). I will also talk about the work of V.O R, the current emigration of thousands of Roma family’s, Roma traditions (both perceived and real), women’s rights and of course, the amazing kids I taught!..

All of this I try to share through stories as people told them to me or from my own experiences working in the community. I do not come to the presentation as an expert on Roma culture or to speak for the Romani people of Kosovo. I am not Rom and feel that I was very privileged to be welcomed into this community with such warmth. I come to this work very much interested in education, solidarity and mutual aid.

These are benefits for the Voice of Roma Education Center in Kosovo.. donations in the millions accepted!..all donations will go directly to the education center.

Hope to see you there!

********************************************************************

thursday, january 28th, 7pm
938 Valencia Street at 20th
San Francisco (Dolores Street Community Services)
Wheelchair accessible
and close to Bart!

$5 donation requested  no one turned away for lack of funds.
yummy snacks
Co-sponsored by the Center for Political Education and Voice of Roma

Also speaking at the this event will be Sani Rifati co- founder of Voice of Roma! He will talk about the present work of Voice of Roma (cultural, educational and economic development) and break down the negative stereotypes of Romani people in the media. He will also talk about the continued displacement of thousands of Roma families.

The Center for Political Education


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tuesday february 2nd  7 pm ….yup that’s groundhogs day!

1721-1/2 63rd St., Berkeley

(5 blocks S. of Ashby BART)

donations accepted  no one turned away

Yummy snacks   this is not an accessible house

****************************************************************************************************

wednesday february 24th 7pm

station 40

3030B 16th Street

San Francisco (right across from the 16 street bart station)

donations accepted     no one turned away

yummy snacks       this is not an accessible house

********************************************************************************************

It is the mission of Voice of Roma to promote and present Romani cultural arts and traditions in a way that counters both romanticized and negative “Gypsy” stereotypes, and in so doing, to contribute to the preservation of Romani identity and culture. VOR also works to heighten awareness of human rights issues faced by Roma in today’s world, and to support efforts by Roma to (re)build and maintain their communities, improve their lives, and to strengthen the Romani voice both nationally and internationally. Our mission is accomplished through organizing and implementing cultural arts, educational, economic development, and charitable projects for and about Roma.

Voice of Roma

_

DO VIDENJA……

….so dear readers we have come to the end of the beautiful balkan/europe adventures…………..

Mongol Shuudan (russia) LISTEN!


…..and we had two choices for traveling back home……


……….across the atlantic on this aeroplane made of tiny lights…..

light-plane


obicham-te

… or overland thru siberia on these magical sheep…. thats me on the right and wendy on the left…..

volim te  xo  marko


Quelqu’un M’a Dit  (carla bruni france) LISTEN!

…won’t you meet me at the gates to the garden

And I always thought: the very simplest words
must be enough. When I say what things are like
everyone’s heart must be torn to shreds.
That you’ll go down if you don’t stand up for yourself,
surely you see that.     Bertolt Brecht


Wendy and i placed red carnations on the grave of Brecht, which is the tradition…. And Wendy poured “Club Mate” (very strong mate soda) on his grave hoping he would wake up and have a conversation with us….  and magically it worked!….b-cemetary2

We talked of art and theater, and both got totally inspired… she studied theater at university and knows a lot about it. Did you know that Brecht used what he called the 4th wall in his plays? Its something like when the performers break with “the performance” and turn and talk directly to the audience. I know all you theater folks already know this … so im not telling you anything new.. but I am relatively new to theater, having only been a lowly punk rock star in a former life, so its new to me.. and really exciting!

red-carnations1

so now I’ll break the fourth wall…. and turn to you and say….

Brecht was called before the house un-American activities committee (HUAC) in 1947 to testify about his communist allegiances. He was blacklisted along with about 40 other writers, directors and actors. Brecht initially said that he would not testify about his political affiliations, but later, on the advice of his attorneys and the fact that he had a flight booked back to east germany.. decided to testify.

The story goes, that he made a theater of the proceedings by wearing  workers overalls and smoking a very smelly cigar. He also slowed things down a bit by speaking English very poorly and giving the translator a hard time… anyway, he did testify that he was not a member of the communist party and was thanked by the chairman for his testimony.  He was criticized afterwards for breaking with the others who stood strong in their conviction to not testify and were cited for contempt……

…. was this another case of the bourgeois artist looking out for number one? ….. or of another Marxist, yet again selling out his sisters and brothers ….. or a brilliant spoof on the “new fascists” in America? ….  ?????



w-cemetary1

me-brecht1


If all people want is to see something they understand, they shouldn’t go to the theater. They should go to the bathroom.     Bertolt Brecht.



bertolt_brecht_main_1

die moritat von mackie messer    LISTEN!



dragi friends……

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rude eva… this is not the amazing eva, but a photo of nick from rudimentary peni. .. for some unknown reason i dont have a photo of eva… which is sad… besides being our wonderful host..we sang “three quarters of the world are starving, the rest are dead” as we cleaned house together….. thank you!

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hvala! danke! gracias! dzieki! grazie! multumesc! faleminderit! nais tuke! thank you!

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