“Reflective citizens in Novi Sad – an initiative for new bridges among us”- Reflective weekend – 2022

The project “Reflective citizens in Novi Sad – an initiative for new bridges among us” started as an idea  from the workshops “Reflective Citizens” which have been held in Novi Sad since 2014 as a part of  the activities of the Section of the Society of Group Analyst Belgrade. The specificity of the workshops “reflective citizens” in Novi Sad is the usage of cultural venues with the desire to encourage cultural dialogue and civic awareness among children and adults in the present day society. The activity was recognized by the Novi Sad European Capital of Culture Foundation in 2022, and the children became the primary focus of these Reflective drawing workshops.

Reflective drawing workshop in 2020 was dedicated to the future of Europe, where primary and secondary school children in Novi Sad painted T-shirts at the Svilara Cultural Station with artists.

In 2021, on the International Day for Environmental Protection children from primary and secondary schools in Novi Sad painted bags and the theme was ‘’The future of Novi Sad’’. We used the plateau of the Historical Archives of the City of Novi Sad as a venue.

The exhibition and performance “A minute for me” where children presented their work and communicated their reflections through drawing / painting was a special experience.

April 9th and 10th, 2022, was reserved for the Reflective Weekend and 4 workshops were organized in two days. Reflective weekend started on Saturday morning with a workshop Reflection through painting / drawing at the Svilara Cultural Station. This workshop encouraged children’s inspiration and creative thinking. Snezana Mandic, fine art teacher and Marija Jevtic, group analyst, as workshop moderators initiated the topic – wishes for the future. The children painted the bags they used to decorate the Bridge of the future – and thus formed a joint work. During this third workshop in a row, the children were contemplating about colors and art, and expressed the ability to create new ideas and connect the existing ideas. They also shared experiences about the importance of cultural heritage and through painting and desires they pointed out their love for the neighborhood they live in. They also talked about the importance of the enrichment of nature and socialized through exchange of opinions and ideas.

The same venue was used in the afternoon to moderate a workshop Reflection on health, whose participants were students of the Faculty of Medicine, school age students and representatives of the elderly population. They all thought together in a fruitful way on individual health and community health. The participation of the youngest citizens (children) was particularly insightful and this workshop was moderated by Marija Jevtić and Tomislav Vlaški (doctoral student of medicine). Active participation of children with older citizens helped children think about their future through personal responsibility for their health. Both, the youngest and the oldest agreed that we all need to pay special attention to people who have physical disabilities because they can and often are individuals who make a healthy contribution to the community.

Younger citizens (children) together with older fellow citizens were participants in the workshop Reflective Walk, which was designed by Marijan Majin and Marija Jevtić, and conducted with the Almašani Association, which is dedicated to nurturing cultural heritage and preservation of the old town of Novi Sad. The children’s guides were Zoja Majin and Čarna Mesaroš, and all participants were given a map. The walk started from Svilara,and the participants  visited beautiful courtyards with a view of the Almaška church, entered  the Almaška church, saw the old Reed house  (under protection), heard the story of Lađarska, Sterijina and Baranjska streets, as well as Matica Srpska and the street of the same name. The children guides presented the Almaški kraj   and told stories about historical facts, anecdotes from the Almaski kraj neighborhood,the oldest part of Novi Sad. Through this walk, the youngest citizens (children) connected with the older generations in a constructive dialogue about the old town of Novi Sad and the importance of nurturing historical heritage and restoring old values. This walk ended at the Crafts House on Maria Trandafil Square, where all participants were welcomed by music as a teaser for the next workshop.

The doors of the Allegro dance center were opened by the hosts Raša and Emma (Radovan Ostojić and Emilija Marinković), which marked the beginning of the fourth workshop Reflective dance, (moderators  Radovan Ostojić and Marija Jevtić) whose goal was to present dance as an opportunity for different generations to meet. All participants talked about the importance of dance for health, culture and dialogue. Also, many participants were introduced to dance as an opportunity to build bridges between different generations. The children enjoyed the dance workshop, learned the basic steps of the chosen dance, and in a pleasant atmosphere through constructive socializing reflected on the importance of dance for health.

There were more than 30 participants in each of the four workshops. The youngest participant is 4 years old and the oldest is more than 80 years old. The impressions brought by the participants of the Reflective weekend workshops confirm that the joint activities and dialogues in the applied conditions of the Citizens in reflection represent a positive experience, enriched with pleasant impressions and expressed wishes for future meetings (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=reWA6XNTbX0).

Partners of the Society of Group Analysts in the implementation of this project were the Elementary School “Ivan Gundlic” Novi Sad in cooperation with artists from the Academy of Arts in Novi Sad, the association “Almašani” which nurtures cultural heritage and preserves the old region, the association “Smile” of medical students in Novi Sad, the association “Kultoks”, which deals with the promotion of dance culture.

Reflective weekend (with four workshops Reflection through painting / drawing, Reflection on Health, Reflective Walk and Reflective dance) was realized on April 9th and 10th, 2022 within the Project Reflective citizens in Novi Sad – an initiative for new bridges among us, project led by Group analytic Society  Belgrade, co-financed by NS EPK 2022, project leader Marija Jevtić).