Serbian students form lifelong bond at EWC
TORRINGTON – Three Serbia students have formed a bond they say will last a lifetime as students at Eastern Wyoming College (EWC) in Torrington.
EWC students freshman Ana Djurovic, of Belgrade, Serbia; sophomore Marko Krtinić, of Indjija, Serbia; and Darija Erakovic of Novi Banovci, Serbia told the Telegram they’ve cultivated a family-like bond with fellow students while at EWC they say will move forward with them as they transfer to universities for their junior and senior years before returning home to Europe.
All three students came to EWC for sports, such as volleyball and basketball, and to experience American culture. The trio explained to the Telegram their sports agents from their hometowns reached out to EWC coaches and helped them through the process in becoming college athletes.
This trio grew up in cities within an hour of each other, met at EWC and now say regardless of where their life paths take them, they will remain as close as siblings.
Social Science major Erakovic said, “We fight with each other sometimes – but, we work through it because we have that friendship now that is closer than ordinary friendship.”
Business Administration major Djurovic added, “We made life-long friendships here at EWC which means we have a lot of time together and we know we can depend on each other for support because we made this into our second home through making our own community here.”
Business Administration major Krtinić agreed with what Erakovic and Djurovic said but added, “We have a connection because of where we come from but also because we help each other learn the process of college life and American culture, so it helps us grow together – but not just us Serbian students, all international students, which EWC has a lot of international connections and together we are a larger community. I see a lot of our friendships lasting a lifetime no matter where we go in life.”
As far as what advice the trip wanted to give other international students, the common theme was to take risks and dive in.
“You have to take risks and know they will pay off to come so far from home,” Djurovic explained. “You can’t know for certain how it will play out or pay off because we come from so far away, but you have to take the risk and go for it because in the end it will be rewarding to connect with new communities.”
Erakovic added, “If you come here, you’re definitely going to love it and you won’t regret it because it’s an experience of growth and I think – you find out who you are a little more too, so definitely take the risk because it will reward you.”
Krtinić said, “Taking the risk gives you a good experience of meeting new people, learning about new cultures and adapting to a new way of life, which I think can go a long way for us all to make better decisions and be kinder to people who aren’t like ourselves.”
“I will be keeping in contact with my friends here as much as possible,” Krtinić added. “I will be transferring to a university after this school year, but the friendships I’ve made here have made me a better person, taught me a lot about myself and other people’s cultures and I think the best way to keep growing is to keep in contact with the people I’ve met here. Plus, with technology, we aren’t really that far away from each other, even if we can’t be physically close to one another.”
Erakovic added, “I think we have the kind of friendship where we can go one day, one week, one month or even one year without talking to each other but pick up where we left off because we made this community among us here in Torrington.”
Djurovic explained, “I agree with Marko (Krtinić) and Darija (Erakovic) – we all have different goals and paths in life we are hoping to take, but with technology I think it’s easier now more than ever to keep in contact and make this bigger community even if we are miles and miles apart or if we live in the dorm next to each other. EWC gave us an opportunity to meet people from where we had never met before coming to EWC but the college also gave us a bigger community outside of that which has grown into a deep bond with one another.”
“We love to laugh and love with each other, yes, true, like any other friendship or family relationship we have our moments when we get mad at each other and argue,” Djurovic explained. “At the end of the day we know we are more like family and will continue to experience life together whether that’s here at EWC or in our future universities or wherever life takes us.”
Erakovic added, “What makes us closer is we help each other with everything, like navigating through college or American culture. Marko (Krtinic), for example, he is a year ahead of us, but he helped us find our classes, help us with our English, help us make friends and he sort of is our big brother here at EWC, he looks out for us too and we look out for him also.”
Krtinić explained further, “We are so close for many reasons, not just because we are all from Serbia, but because we’ve come to learn we can rely on each other and trust each other to not judge and to have compassion when we are having a bad day or something. It’s the good and bad times, the easy and hard times that has made our bonds stronger and why I think we have made life-long friendships here.”
The trio said they are thankful EWC brought them together and respect the college for accommodating them as well as other international students.
When asked what the group of friends wanted to let the community know about them or other international students at EWC they said their wish is residents understand other cultures more because EWC is home to many international students.
“For me, I think if we can get the message out to Torrington and our community, it is to know EWC has many, many international students with different cultures, beliefs and backgrounds,” said Krtinić. “The more we learn about each other, the kinder I think our community will become. There are so many different cultures here at EWC and I like to learn about them and I think our community would like to learn from us also. It would go a long way to help make future international students more comfortable sooner.”
“Torrington has been pretty open to me, us and our culture, but you don’t really know that when you first come here because you come to an unknown place that has a lot of international students,” Krtinić further explained. “So my wish is for Torrington to be more open to learning about the different cultures represented here at EWC.”
Djurovic added, “It is true, I think sometimes Torrington forgets EWC has students from all over the globe and that we have different cultures, backgrounds, holidays and stuff like that. I would also like to say my wish for our community here in Torrington is to be more open about the different cultures here because I think we also can learn from each other.”
Erakovic echoed what her friends said and added, “I don’t think people realize a lot of students at EWC are international and it would be helpful if maybe the community knew more about our beliefs and cultures so it helps international students settle in better.”
“We have international students here from other countries who help all of us international students, which is helpful, but sometimes you need someone from the country you come from to make you feel welcome,” Erakovic added.
The trio said sports has made it easier for them to find a greater sense of belonging and community at EWC and in Torrington. They also said they view those friendships as being lifelong as well.
“Basketball has made it so I can create more friendships and bonds – which allows me to share more of my culture too in a safe environment of people who respect me and I respect them,” Krtinić explained.
Like Krtinić, Erakovic also said basketball and sports have allowed her to open up about her culture and background to fellow students and teammates.
“I think when we let our guard down some, open up to our fellow classmates and teammates, it fosters this deeper sense of belonging and community,” Erakovic explained. “Sports is very important because it allows us to be exposed to different cultures and learn how to be more open to those cultures and beliefs.”
Djurovic echoed her friends about the importance of international students in EWC sports and added, “I think when we share common interests, like sports, I came here for volleyball and basketball now too, it has allowed me to open up more about who I am, where I come from, my culture and beliefs in an environment I feel is safe, understanding and maybe nurturing.”
The students agree EWC works hard at welcoming international students and making them feel at home and accepted into the community.
“Sometimes I think people in general don’t understand different cultures, nationalities, backgrounds and beliefs so maybe it can be scary for them,” Erakovic explained. “But, I think if we all can be a little more open about discovering new things about other cultures and peoples it can lead to a better understanding of our global friends, communities and nations.”
The trio said so far they’ve had a great experience at EWC and in Torrington.
“EWC has given us something we didn’t think was possible so far from home,” Erakovic said. “They have given us a sense of community and a larger family.”
Djurovic added, “I agree with Darija (Erakovic), the college has given us a lot of things like a deeper love of sports, an education and a place of belonging, but they have also given us a family I think will last the rest of my life.”
Like Djurovic and Erakovic, Krtinić said it’s the sense of belonging and community he will cherish from his time at EWC as he leaves for a university after May.