Dear readers, in this interview we are introducing you another new representative that became part of our expanding Political Youth Network. Meet Tea Vukadin from Serbian political movement 1 of 5 Milion!
Dear Tea, please tell us something about yourself!
Thank you for the invitation to participate in this conversation, my name is Tea Vukadin, I was born and live in Belgrade. I graduated from art high school and have been surrounded by artists and culture all my life, that was my motivation for activism at first. I am currently engaged in graphic design and also study human and minority rights in the Western Balkans.
Look back at the start of your political activism. What was your motivation? What was the reason behind your decision to be actively engaged in politics?
One of the main motives for my activist struggle was the passivity of young people, the lack of engagement and their departure from the country. I myself wanted to leave Serbia many times, but I realized that we young people bring change and if we want anything to happen and progress in any field, we have to take matters into our own hands. While I was visiting Serbia, I saw that many cultural institutions were closed and collapsed, therefore art in those cities was dying out, then I understood the concept of “decentralization”, which we desperately need in Serbia. I consider culture to be the basic pillar of society, without it people become dumb and uneducated. As I come from an artistic environment, that was the first item for me when I decided that we had to get started and get active. Immediately after that, I started organizing protests against the authorities in Serbia with a few people, which lasted for three almost two years. I was pained by the injustice inflicted on anyone who dares to speak out against the people in power. People lived through horrible things from burning journalists’ houses to imprisonment and beatings. I simply could not stay away from these events.
What are the most valuable lessons you learned through political activism? What skills and knowledge helped you to acquire?
The hard way, through activism and politics, I learned how to talk with political dissenters, how to tolerate criticism and my political involvement and how to tolerate insults from people in positions of power. In addition, I have mastered many useful skills such as public speaking, negotiation, organizing meetings and dialogue.
Share with us one memory, anecdote, or a story from your political experience that you cherish the most.
I have a lot of good and bad memories from the protests and campaigns I’ve done so far, some of my favorite ones are when I meet or talk to teachers from high school and elementary school who send me messages of support. The anecdote that I like to tell the most is when we, 1 in 5 million, blocked the rectory building for thirteen days because we wanted it to be revealed that the Minister of Finance, Sinisa Mali, had plagiarized his doctorate. While the blockade lasted, there were many ups and downs, they tried to force us to leave without achieving our goal, but perseverance paid off, the Rectorate in Belgrade canceled the plagiarized doctorate of the Minister of Finance. It is one of my favorite memories because it proves that even just 20 persistent people are enough to change something.
Why did you decide to join the Political Youth Network? Have you previously had experience in regional cooperation? What does regional cooperation mean to you?
Our organization still needs time to grow and expand. I saw PYN as a way in which we can participate in international dialogue and learn something more from the organizations that make it up. I think that we are opening a European path for ourselves and I also think that it is necessary for the organizations of the countries of the Western Balkans to sit together at the table and together come to a solution to the problems that surround us.
Nowadays we are faced with global challenges that require much solidarity and responsibility. What is your desired vision for the region in the next 10 years? What message do you have for young politically active young people in the region?
I think that all of us who are part of this network should to some extent aim for reconciliation and solidarity, acceptance of responsibility, and my vision of the region for the dessert year is that we live in peace and that we can discuss the key topics of society without bile and aggression.
My message to the youth would be to not be afraid of change because they are the change.