Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Last Day of Ohrid, First day of Thessaloniki

The last day of the Ohrid conference started with a change in schedule. The Foreign Minister was unable to attend so we had to switch the day up a bit and move the President’s speech up to 11am, which meant people stayed in bed a bit longer.

It is actually really cool to see the President of Macedonia speak. And shake his hand/talk to him for a bit! (Are you able to ask harsh questions to the President if it isn’t your country?) He had some very good quotes, and some interesting commentary on MK’s future. He used to be a lecturer at the University and I can tell why! He can speak and he has presence! He started off showing us some maps of the world (some of which had been shown to us the other day at this conference, but I thought it more appropriate to highlight it here. This is a traditional world map:

This is a world map where the equator is exactly half way on the paper, with as close as the right ratio as possible:

The thoughts of how we think about the world are shaped by our education, though history and geography. We are the “audiovisual generation” according to him. He did start to say things like all of our beliefs come from religion. But freedom is the source of knowledge and the dominant idea is “the idea of freedom.” What was ironic, is that he started talking about how we are supposed not be eurocentric but then starts showing videos that are really eurocentric about how republics are formed. Is money the new reason for conflict? He claims that freedom isn’t the idea that now moves people but rather wealth is. And the new form of slavery is debt. Another good line “People who only look to the future fly as I they had red bull!”

Did you know that 2 people are killed in conflict every minute?

He claims that most of the political spectrum is on the right now. Most politicians are on the right hand side of the political spectrum, even those of the left. He argues that we use the term “right” in almost all languages to symbolize the conservative side. Daniel thinks he was saying that to be on the “right” is the “right (correct)” move. But I just got that through history people were more conservative and thus the correct version was to be more conservative and that is how it got the name.

The first thing he said that was *ugh* feeling is that there is a problem assimilating due to maintain your own culture. And that this is a challenge that needs to be overcome. (WHY does this need to be overcome?) Also you need to learn to speak the language where you live because “those who communication integrate. And those who don’t communicate live in a ghetto.” (Once again….ummm…not all the time.) He claimed that the internet is a great leveling tool and has helped make territory loose it’s importance. He also claims that if the EU doesn’t start switching for the future and adopt for the new needs of the youth, it will be become a “museum for the Chinese/Indians/Brazilians to come and look at the past.”

I really wanted to ask him “How can you keep stressing freedom and democracy when your country, which you represent, is only listed as partially free according to Freedom House?” But I decided not too, when talking to him I wasn’t sure how much English he actually understood, or if he was just exhausted form speaking.

Daniel and I were going to meet with Andy, a Fulbright researcher who lives in Kosovo and was in Ohrid visiting a friend to drive down to Thessaloniki together! Since Daniel had decided to go to the Ohrid Conference at the last minute we had to change car rental companies and the price increased and we had to get a manual transmission. So Daniel was the only one who could actually drive the car. The lady was about 20 minutes late in showing up to give us the car (which ended up with us arriving RIGHT on time to our next conference). We were able to rent the car and get on our way!

The views were beautiful driving through the countryside of Macedonia. I would have never seen this part without having to drive to Thessaloniki! We drove through Bitola on the way there, that was the closest Greek border to Ohrid. The border was super easy and we flew right through! Then it was into Greece with more countryside that is beautiful and nowhere to stop for food! Luckily I had though ahead and bought some snacks!

even the Greek cities needed a city with a cross on a hill
When we checked into the hotel, they said under their breaths (some Skopjian just parked in our parking spots) because we had moved the thing to park in front of the hotel to check in. Immediately after checking in we went up to our rooms and then right back down to go to the opening reception at a local artist studio. The guy was on a Fulbright to study art and is very active in the commission in Greece. His studio was kind of cool! And they had food. Lots of greasy baked food. But yummy orange flavored potatoes. No dessert sadly. But free Greek wine. We tried to go out to a pub, but after they decided which pub to go in to, I helped this girl find her way back to the hotel. When I went back to the pub they had left! So I went back to the hotel and just checked my email and stuff!

See you around the globe!

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