Europe House BUZZ - December - Europe House

20 Jan


Europe House BUZZ – December

Europe House BUZZ – December
Translator, Balkanophile, intercultural mediator
Igor Stefanovski

Translator, Balkanophile, intercultural mediator

Dear Buzzers,

Nice to meet you, and thanks for reading 🙂

My name is Igor Stefanovski. I was born in Skopje, Yugoslavia to an English mother and a Macedonian father, but moved to the UK at the age of 11 and have spent the last three decades between my two home countries, cultures and languages. As a Macedonian in Britain and a Brit in the Balkans, the only logical answer I’ve been able to find to the sometimes sticky question of my “identity” is European. It simply fits and makes sense, providing an indisputable identity, while at the same time encompassing ‒  in one word ‒ everything I inherently feel and understand about the world.

I’m a strong supporter of the European Union for various reasons, but especially because I believe in Europe without borders, and that our beloved Balkans have the most to gain from a borderless region. I sincerely hope that this happens soon, since I share Misha Glenny’s view that “if the fire of prejudice could be doused with a potion of tolerance, the Balkans would be the most wonderful region in the world”.

In order for that to happen, cross-border communication is obviously crucial, and cultural exchange is arguably the most vital tool we have at our disposal, since no imaginary lines can hold back Culture. And this is the thing I’m most passionate about — using intercultural mediation to foster understanding and promote a side of our region that the world at large is mostly unaware of. It is also something that my father Goran Stefanovski — writer, thinker, academic — spent his entire life doing.

That is why the event organised by EuropeHouse on 14 December in Debar Maalo, next to Goran’s memorial bench, meant so much to me and my family. As a professional translator myself, hearing his words spoken in all the languages of the EU was emotional, to say the least. All of a sudden, the writings of one of our national treasures resonated in a whole host of new tongues for the very first time, turning his bench into a cultural beacon that shone out to all corners of Europe. It truly was a beautiful event.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the entire team at EuropeHouse for the idea, as well as the EU Delegation and Ambassador Geer for the opportunity not only to attend the event but also to address the crowd (who chose to stay and listen despite the pouring rain, so a big thank you to them, too!).

Finally, I’d like to wish everyone reading this a very happy and prosperous 2023 — take excellent care of yourselves and one another.

New Year’s decoration with Goran Stefanovski’s stories in Debar Maalo

When we started thinking about different ways of commemorating Goran Stefanovski’s literary work, we wanted to avoid all the clichés and stereotypes sculpted by our collective memory as if from a clay mould. After all, Goran Stefanovski is one of the greatest writers in the history of Macedonian literature. However, without having the pressure of superlative epithets accompanying his name, we decided to honour his stories in Debar Maalo. We fondly remember his lecture delivered at the former EU Info Center on the image of the other: the perception and the representation of others in literature and culture. And that was our starting point. We worked closely with distinguished professors and students from the Summer School of the International Seminar on Macedonian Language, Literature and Culture at UKIM.

During Christmas and New Year, we decorated the park in Debar Maalo, where his memorial bench is, with colourful lights and organic handmade souvenirs. Every object had an inscription of Goran’s text in one of the languages of the European Union: “All living creatures are born with a survival instinct. In order to survive, spiders spin webs. In order to survive, we spin stories. For us there is nothing more important than these stories. They are the essence of our lives, backbone of our identity.”

The heavy rain did not prevent us from staying in the park for a few hours to share our vivid memories of the writer. The EU Ambassador, who unfortunately did not have the privilege to meet Goran Stefanovski in person, could still feel the passion we all enjoyed while working on this project:

Unlike most of you, I did not have the privilege to get to know in person the most famous Macedonian playwright. I am compensating now, by getting acquainted with his work. And admiring the heights he reached – as an observer of human nature and social phenomena, as a writer, and as a person.

Reading Goran’s reflections on the sense of belonging (in times of constant movement), I could not help humbly drawing a parallel with him: a Macedonian in the UK vs. a British-born living here in North Macedonia. And remembering his words:

Everything moves. Birds and eels, communities and individuals, atoms, molecules. There is migration, in space and time, spreading and mixing and remixing of cultures and forms and ideas. It is essential stuff: metamorphosis, transformation, negotiation and adaptation. It’s life (from ‘The spark which escapes’ – an essay/key-note speech at an international conference).

We then stepped into the theatre of Shadows and Clouds, toasting each other’s health with a glass of mulled wine, rakiya or tea for everything that Goran had given us as a lasting legacy.

As Goran Stefanovski put it, we all long to weave and get to know our story, and that’s why we are looking for a master storyteller. And we used to have a master teller of our story! Goran, the Macedonian playwright whose plays and essays are one of our most translated literary works across Europe. On stage, both in the Macedonian and throughout the European cultural space, he told our story and revealed the woven Macedonian tale without the slightest touch of subjectivity – he showed who we are, why we are and what we desire.

And at the same time, he impartially told and staged the story of Europe. In fact, Goran compared and intertwined these two stories. And he was highly successful at doing that – he linked the cause and effect, took our masks off and showed us where we were identical, similar, or completely different. He helped all of us who are part of the contemporary European culture see ourselves clearly and critically and understand the Other…

… During the Winter and Summer Schools of the International Seminar on Macedonian Language, Literature and Culture at Ss. Cyril and Methodius University in Skopje (MSMJLK at UKIM), which were also dedicated to his work, we unravelled some of Goran’s stories with participants from several European countries. We discovered that the linguists, writers, translators and culturologists, both local and foreign, had a great insight into Goran’s messages. Through his plays and essays, they have gained a deep understanding and appreciation of the Macedonian and the shared European story. And even an insight into how the future chapters of this tale should be woven!

Over the past few days, we’ve received many messages and comments from various parts of Europe and home. Students have reached out to our lecturers and the Director of the Seminar with Goran’s message translated into fifteen languages, enlightening his Debar Maalo tonight. With the help of the Delegation of the European Union, we have a dazzling display of holiday lights. I only wish that people from all walks of life would be willing to participate in the weaving of the stories, that they would try to see and understand the values ​​of a true story, just the way Goran taught us. Tonight’s event gives me faith and hopes that it can happen! And that it will happen!

Therefore, I think there is no better way to jointly step towards the threshold of 2023, announcing that the weaving and unfolding of stories and the unravelling of Goran’s work shall continue. All of us shall ravel separately as individuals and together as a community.

In 2023, some of Goran’s mini-essays or draft-essays, his “Potted Impressions,” will be published in several European languages, translated by our participants from various European countries, as part of the Seminar’s publications. One of these “potted impressions” reads: “We easily recognize ourselves in the mirror. How do we recognize ourselves in the world?”

– Excerpts from Ivan Antonovski’s address (poet, essayist, literary critic, literary translator and publicist).

The Glass Room Misinformation Edition

The multimedia exhibition The Glass Room Misinformation Edition at Europe House Skopje is open to visitors Tuesday through Thursday from 12 pm to 3 pm until January 31, 2023.

The Glass Room began as a large-scale exhibition, traveling from Berlin to New York, London and San Francisco between 2016 and 2019. A growing need for public interventions and information about technology led to the Glass Room Community Edition – a lightweight, pop-up exhibition which can be shipped worldwide to community spaces, schools, libraries and festivals.

The first release of this series was The Internet of Things (IoT) Edition exploring the risks and benefits of the everyday technologies that we invite into our homes and lives. The second series is this Misinformation Edition exploring the roles of design tricks, deepfakes, business models and data in the spread of information online. Tactical Tech’s Youth & Technology initiative has adapted the contents of The Glass Room Community Edition to offer a thought-provoking experience accessible and relevant for younger audiences.

So far, there have been over 471 Glass Room events across 61 countries all around the world, reaching over 352,000 people – with many more planned in 2022. So, when you host a Glass Room Community Edition event, you join a global conversation on data and privacy.

In Skopje, the exhibition is a beautiful educational installation consisting of a series of posters, interactive applications and animations. It allows visitors to learn more about the spread of online misinformation among Internet users, and how business models, design strategies and user habits can create a favourable fake news environment.

The exhibition was also visited by several groups of high school students who attended the lecture on fake news and misinformation organized by the Macedonian Institute for Media – MIM and the EU Delegation.

Marking “World AIDS Day”

As a Young European Ambassador and a medical student, I felt the need to initiate and organize this discussion to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS, provide fact-based & practical information about the topic and help break the stigma about people living with HIV/AIDS as well.

World AIDS Day was the first-ever global health day, and since 1988, each year, on the 1st of December, the world unifies in the battle to end the AIDS epidemic.

World AIDS Day offers the entire world the opportunity to not just mourn and honour those who have died from this disease but also to raise awareness about the ongoing need for prevention & education, stigma reduction and a greater understanding of how AIDS continues to affect public health across the globe.

The discussion had amazing speakers – the EU Ambassador David Geer, Dr Nikola Brzanov (President of Young Doctors Club), Damjan Bajovski (Social Worker at HERA), Ljubica Batkoska (President of Young Doctors Club), Damjan Pavlov (Former National officer for reproductive health & HIV/AID at the Macedonian Medical Student’s Association), and Andrej Senih (Executive Director of Association for support of people living with HIV “Zaedno posilni” [Stronger Together] Skopje). The speakers shared with the participants relevant information about HIV, AIDS, diagnosis, prevention, treatment, student activities and projects regarding HIV/AIDS, social work with HIV-positive people, their challenges and needs & things to be done to improve the status of people living with HIV/AIDS. Special attention was paid to the fight against discrimination against these marginalized groups and ways to improve their access to health services & treatments.

One of the main issues that were pointed out was the national budget cut for HIV Prevention Programs for 2022, which potentially leads to an increase in new HIV cases and fatal HIV infections.

The role of the organizations that offer HIV prevention and support services throughout the country is crucial. In recent years, the civil society sector has been the backbone of the national response to HIV and thanks to the direct HIV services these organizations offer, we managed to maintain control of HIV infections.

The need for adequate funding of national programs for HIV is also indicated in the recently published EU Country Progress Report for 2022.

Civil society organizations can only do so much without governmental support and a systematic approach. The HIV program funding needs to be increased in order for every patient to be able to receive the care and therapy that enables control of the virus whilst also preventing it from being transmitted further.

I’d like to express my gratitude to everyone who actively participated in this event and contributed to the discussion, and my sincere thanks for the excellent support provided by the team of Europe House Skopje in organizing and implementing this event.

The topics of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) are still viewed as a taboo in modern Macedonian society, but with the help of these kinds of events, social media, and proper education, I believe we can overcome the stigma associated with STDs.

I feel that there aren’t enough events (discussions, debates, seminars, workshops) and projects in general that tackle public health topics in our society. That’s why, as a Young European Ambassador, I will continue to organise more activities addressing health & well-being.

Personally, I think the best part of this event was the active participation of the young people in the Q&A session. I am happy that this discussion was remarkably fruitful and proactive as we managed to inspire even more activities in the New Year ahead!

– Mila Mladenova, Young European Ambassador and a medical student, organiser of the event.

Europe House Strumica:Pop-up workshop and bazaar – exploring creativity by bringing to life used objects


The month of December, as the final month of the year, brings New Year’s magic and euphoria to the heart of each one of us. On the initiative of young creatives, Europe House Strumica set up a workshop for handmade Christmas crafts made out of old, discarded materials – Pop-Up Workshop and Bazaar. These creations, made by the talented Pale and Verica, were also displayed at this year’s Municipal New Year’s Bazaar.

Why was this initiative important?

A group of young people have undertaken an initiative to show that there are plenty of creative ways to repurpose and reuse old stuff.

“My original idea was to create something that would make an impression on people and convey a message. I’m mainly interested in recycling materials and giving them a second life in art. In addition to the local bazaars, we also set up workshops at Europe House Strumica, where anyone interested could try to make something of their own choice. It always inspires me when I talk to passers-by and buyers; I’m always curious ​​what interests them, and this motivates me to keep on working on and creating my art.”

– Verica

Europe House Strumica appreciates the humanity and creativity of these young individuals, and we greatly encourage others to share ideas and take initiatives.

“When we started the events at Europe House Strumica, I got more inspiration and motivation to continue

 doing what I do, because it gave me the opportunity to network with people who enjoy these things. New ideas and opportunities are born every day, we just need to know how to perceive them and use them.”

– Ivana

“I was in a phase where I was exploring new hobbies. I realized that a good way to improve them is by preparing them for the bazaar, where I will share them with people. My motivation to create comes from the thought that we have the ability to create many things. “

– Verica

Kriva Palanka: A month of doing small but meaningful things

The bright sun we had throughout most of December shone brightly above our heads as Europe House Kriva Palanka played its role in bringing light to the lives of those who often feel left out of society. All in all, 2022 was a year we would remember for a long, long time. After all, December is probably the most deserving month to bear the name “the crown jewel” out of the twelve.

We planned and organized our farewell events for 2022 inspired by Mother Theresa’s words: “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” Therefore, for December, Europe House Kriva Palanka was packed with “small” events put together with great love, loudly voicing our advocacy for inclusion in our highly diverse society.

In The Countryside Resort, we continued last year’s flagship event that has become highly recognizable among locals as the great-get-together initiative to celebrate the International Day of Disabled Persons. Under the motto “We are all equal”, we give recognition to the companies, organizations, and individuals who had a profound impact in helping disabled persons in 2022.

Europe House Kriva Palanka believes in activism all year round, not only on internationally recognized dates. As an ardent supporter of art as a tool for inspiring social action, we launched a series of exhibitions, promotions, art installations, and movie screenings of worldwide renowned masterpieces that address the topic of inclusivity and the challenges faced by disabled persons.

Together with the photography artists Toshe Ognjanov and Srebra Gjorgjievska, we told the incredible stories of 20 inspiring people across the country who spoke about overcoming their disability barriers.

Speaking of local artists, Europe House Kriva Palanka hosted a movie night for the Macedonian documentary “Belles” (directed by Marija Apchevska), which focuses on how deinstitutionalisation affects the quality of life for disabled persons.

Another documentary we were excited to screen at Europe House Kriva Palanka was the Swedish “Catwalk: From Glada Hudik to New York” (directed by Johan Skog). It is a documentary about the actors from the Glada Hudik-theatre (a theatre for actors with disabilities) whose lifelong dream of attending the New York fashion week becomes a reality.

The Macedonian translation of “Never Stop Hugging”, a book of quotes from Glada Hudik’s actors written by Osa Emrot, was promoted in Europe House Kriva Palanka with the hope of becoming a real-life proof that only the sky is the limit!

We hope our commitments to inclusivity have echoed across the country and started bringing about the necessary change in resolving diversity issues. We shall continue our work of ensuring inclusivity in the year ahead.

EUwithYou Outreach campaign

The purpose of the visits is the presentation of the new steps in the EU membership negotiation process and their impact on the daily life of the citizens as well as the new investments by the EU.

You can read more about the beauties of Resen in the following article.


Thank you for following us, but that’s not all! Put on your seatbelt! We are taking off for an even more dynamic year in 2023!

Stay tuned to find out!

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