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Serbia — Day 5 — Wednesday

Hi Folks, 

This is a slightly earlier update today for the reasons you'll read below. 

The students had this morning free and indulged in various activities. I don't yet know what everyone did, but there were certainly some shoppers (again I assume you will be the beneficiaries of this activity) and four students went to the Museum of Yugoslavia and the House of Flowers - Tito's tomb.

One student had the fun experience of meeting one of the librarians with whom we had dinner last Saturday night in the main street, so was delighted to be local enough in Belgrade to meet a known face in the street.

This afternoon we were all participants in a conference at the Faculty of Philology (the faculty which houses library science at the University of Belgrade.) The students coped very well with the welcome and introductions - all in Serbian by the Minister for Education. I had met this gentleman before, but he was very pleased to see our students in Belgrade and we all had our picture taken with the Minister. The first session included Professor Markovic from Belgrade, a professor from Azerbaijan, and me. I had also asked if my students could present their impressions of Serbia briefly, and they were able to do this at the end of my presentation. They had a fairly stiff task, in that I asked each of those who were willing to share three things they had discovered about Serbia, Serbian Libraries or Serbian culture - and all this on three and a half days experience of Serbia. 

However, they did an excellent job, and I received many favorable comments, not just on the content of their presentation, but on the way in which they presented themselves. They were indeed excellent, and I was very proud of them.

This evening we are off to two different cultural events. The larger group are going to the charming National Theatre. I had purchased tickets for them to Puccini's Madama Butterfly with a guest Chinese soprano in the lead role, and they had carefully read up on the story and listened to the music beforehand to be ready. (For several of them it is their first ever visit to the opera.) However, in a very Serbian move, when I logged on to the website this morning to print out the program for them - the opera has changed. Madama Butterfly it is not - but it will be Puccini's Tosca instead! I assume the main singer is ill or something else happened, but this is an indication of how flexible our Serbian hosts can be. Of course they will cheerfully refund your money or swap your ticket for something else as they're not presenting what was advertised. However, not to be outdone, our students will be flexible too, and are reading up on the story and getting ready for Tosca this evening in Italian with Serbian surtitles.

The smaller group will be going to Fantom iz Opere (yes, that would be Phantom of the Opera) in Serbian. It's  a new production here in Belgrade, so the theatregoers tonight will all be at the opera one way or another.

Tomorrow we are off on a day trip to the city of Nis, south east of Belgrade.

Everyone is still doing well and discovering lots of interesting things.

More news tomorrow.

Andrew Smith