Mili Dueli 2023 Poezija

Slađana Ray – Teško je biti emigrant kad dođu praznici (Mili Dueli 2023 – Grand Final)

Name and surname:
Sladjana Ray
Poem for the 4th and 5th round (Final / Grand Final): (TRANSLATION INTO MONTENEGRIN + YOUR NATIVE / ENGLISH LANGUAGE )

Holidays are hard when you are an immigrant!

Alone in foreign country,
Always reminded of your accent,
that you are not an American,
that you don’t belong,
that you need to go back where you came from.

Holidays are hard when you are an immigrant!

You live in the tiny studio, in the roughest parts of Brooklyn,
because your bank account do not permit you to live
where Americans don’t lock their doors and don’t have
the metal bars on their windows,
with their perfect, white, picket fences,
nannies, and country club memberships.

Holidays are hard when you’re an immigrant!

All the streetlights and Christmas decorations everywhere you go
don’t change the fact that you gave up your family
Slavas, Quinceanera’s, and Hanukkahs to have a better life,
because this Land of Dreams doesn’t take a day off!

But is it a better life?
All alone in one tiny studio in Brooklyn,
reminded everyday that you are different,
that you don’t belong, that you are an immigrant.

Holidays are hard when you are an immigrant!

What is the price of an American dream?
Tarator by your kind; always outsider here,
So, what do you do?

You just get up! Step up! Shut up! Fight up!
You just go to work, because holiday
is just another day to survive
in the “Land of free and home of the brave”.

Something special about you!
I love to volunteer my time, One of the ways in which I love to give back to my community is through the work with college students at the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. I am an alumina representative for the entire state of Georgia. Helping students reach their academic and personal goals is something that I truly enjoy doing.

I am naturalized American, but my roots are Serbian. I am actively involved in our Serbian community here in Atlanta, Georgia. I have been part of our St. Peter and Paul Serbian Orthodox Church for the past 23 years. This year, I was chosen by our parish sisters to serve as President of Serbian Sisterhood Circle. This is one of the greatest honor to serve because this non-profit organizations was created in 1903 with a mission to respond to the great human suffering of their brethren living under foreign occupation. We help sick and people in need in our Serbian community, We organized various events and workshops to teach younger generations Serbian traditions and specially Serbian language. This year, in celebration of preserving the Serbian language and poetry, our perish published a beautiful poetry collection.

What do you think is the main problem of peace in your country? Suggest solutions to us, and how to bring and preserve peace in your country with poetry?
Poetry and literature connect people from all ethnic, racial, and religious backgrounds. The beauty of literature is that one can express feelings, thoughts, and ideas. It allows writer, or in this case a poet, to reflect on world around them and to express deepest feelings of love, passion, happiness, but also pain, agony, and despair. Today, America is facing one of the most challenging times in the history. Despite of constant efforts to bridge the gaps of inequalities, the majority of American people have a very negative opinions on oppressed groups, minorities, and immigrants. One way in which people can advocate for peace is through poetry. Writing pomes about oppression, advocating for minorities , or current issues in the world can all be seen through the eyes of empathy and compassion. Teaching people, specially young people, about empathy and compassion will allow them to better understand differences among people today. We as a collective, need to stop teaching kids to hate. I believe that all those terrible things that are happening in the world are the product of hate. Nobody is born to hate. Hate is something that you are taught how to do. Working with young people most of my life, allowed me to gain valuable input about their diverse cultures, ethnicities, religions, and they also taught me about love and importance of traditions. Through the stories of my students, I got to see their struggles and help them overcome anything. Being an immigrant is something that I can connect with my students. 90% of my students that I teach are immigrants. The poem I wrote for this round was for my students and myself, too. It was for all the immigrants that had to leave their homes and come to different country for a better life. Many came because they wanted peace. Many lived in horrific conditions with terrible governments. Many are still adjusting to this new way of life in America. Although, it is safe it is not always equal or supporting living in America. In my school, we have Poetry Club that gives our students a safe place to express their thoughts and feelings and speak about oppressive issues. They can write about governments, about race, inequalities in immigration laws, rights for certain groups..etc. The biggest reward for me is to hear their beautiful poems. Words are the most powerful weapon that one can use to change the world. I hope my students will change the world and bring peace, one poem at the time.
List of the published books:
Miili Dueli, International Poetry Collection (2014)
Sa Verom u Hrista- Zbornik Poezije, poetry collection (2023)
Do you expect to win the contest?

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Mili Dueli 2023 – Fifth Round (Grand final)



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