Jelena Ćajić from Sokolac is a professor of English language and literature, currently employed as a journalist at the Info Center Sokolac. When you are looking for information on cultural events in Sokolac, you must come across the Culture and Arts Association „Romanijska Luča“. Jelena has been the member of this society for many years, so we opened the interview with this topic.
I have been with the Culture and Arts Association „Romanijska Luča“ since their very beginnings, i.e. immediately after the war, when the work of the association was restarted, me and my brother joined, because our parents had been members of a culture and arts association, and they always told stories about great times they had. So we went, and we are still members. I had danced for nearly 19 years, perhaps 18 and a half. Last year I finished my dancing career, but continue to work with children. I have worked with children for perhaps nine years, I lead the youngest club in the association – the children’s company. And I intend to continue my involvement with the association exactly through this work with children.
Friendships are among the most valuable things she got from her membership in the culture and arts association.
First, I made friends, and I can truly say that all my best friends come from the culture and arts association. This is, really, the kind of connection that transcends both the school, and the university, and everything. I can always count on the. Even when we do not get in touch for a while, I know I can count on them. Because, simply we used to spend entire days together, and when we travelled we were together for days
Second, I can see that in my relationship with my brother, perhaps if we hadn’t been in it together, because we danced together all those years, perhaps we would not have been as close as we are. Of course, everybody is close to their family, but it turned out that we hung together just like we were both siblings and buddies. And in this I see how important it was to spend time together.
Next, in addition to learning to dance, I met many people, not just here, but all over the Republika Srpska, Bosnia and Herzegovina, but also all over the world, because we travelled alot. We went on tours – the Netherlands, Bulgaria, Poland. And we always came across people from here. There are our people everywhere.
The Culture and Arts Association „Romanijska Luča“ is a sort of brand in Sokolac, and they have quite a few members.
Perhaps you could put it that way, but, believe me, that took a lot of hard work. Starting out, it was hard – we did not have costumes, we lacked essential instruments for our work. In the beginning, we did not even have our own premises. That had really been tortuous. Afterwards we moved a lot around some halls, where we had to remove tables and chairs to have room to dance. And then, when we finished, we had to clean everything and put it back as it had been.
But, after several years we got our own premises. In the building of the old police station, we got a large space, which still was not quite adequate. But you know how it works – when you can’t get what you need, you take what you can get. So, if nothing else, these are now the premises where we can work, and where we are not dependent on anybody.
Membership varies from the beginning towards the end of the year, but we have about 250 members who work in several clubs – the folklore club, music club. In addition, we used to have a fiddlers’ club, but things changed. However, the music and folklore club are key.
For such a small town, I believe we are an organization that brings together most young people of different ages, because we have children as young as 6, who dance, play, or sing. And on the other hand, the professor who leads our orchestra is over 70.
I asked her if she would like to leave BiH?
I’ve thought about it, just like everybody else. There are things that hold me here and there are others that drive me to leave this instant. Certainly, for all of us, home and the home town binds us, as well as family and friends. But again, when one thinks about the future, it is hard to see any promise… Here, one can only survive, and be content with it. Particularly in smaller towns, where it is harder to fulfill even some simple needs. For instance, here in Sokolac, our cinema burnt down, we do not have a cinema theater. So, I mean that, even for some simple things, which I believe should be available to all nowadays, we have to travel… Fortunately, Sarajevo is close, so we at least can do some things there, but I believe that departing to a larger city with better prospects certainly occurs to everyone.