Audio Recording of Interview
Born in Belgrade, Serbia when it was the capital of Yugoslavia, Milada discusses how experiencing religious freedom in the United States, as well as working for various NGOs, has shaped her faith journey and opinions on diversity. She also describes her experience of war, losing her husband, and her evolving perception of faith throughout witnessing war and resettlement.
Other interviews of this person can be found below:
Narrator: Milada Pejovic
Summary: Born in Belgrade, Serbia when it was the capital of Yugoslavia, Milada discusses how experiencing religious freedom in the United States, as well as working for various NGOs, has shaped her faith journey and opinions on diversity. She describes her experience of war, losing her husband, and her evolving perception of faith throughout witnessing war and resettlement.
Topics: Family, Religion, Religious Freedom, Diversity, Cultural Adjustment, Work, Interracial/Interfaith Marriage, Friendship
Section One (0:00-15:37)
Immigration Process - Milada, 67 years old, was born in Belgrade, Serbia, the capital of former Yugoslavia, and was resettled in Chicago in 1998. She has two children and now works in New York with UNICEF, living near Princeton University.
Family, Religion - Growing up in a communist country, she was raised atheist but enjoyed her parents’ Christian celebrations.
Diversity - She saw interreligious, interracial marriages growing up and believed diversity to enrich a country, but it seemed a disadvantage now.
Religion, Immigration Process - Seeing religious leaders leading people into war pushed her further from religion. She was sponsored by World Relief, a Christian agency based in Wheaton. Seeing local college students involved with World Relief made her realize how religion can connect people.
Loss - She lost her husband who was killed as a civilian in the war. As a case manager, she worked with many people who had similar stories.
Work - She witnessed how animosity between refugees dissolved as they faced common struggles.
Religious Freedom, Diversity - Witnessing religious freedom in America, she thinks it would have been better for Yugoslavic politicians to not discourage religion.
Section Two (15:37-23:30)
Religious Freedom, Cultural Adjustment, Interracial Marriage - Gave her children freedom to decide their beliefs. Her son married an Indian girl and they observe Hindu events in their household. At the same time, she and her family have adopted American celebrations, especially Thanksgiving.
Section Three (23:30-32:43)
Religion, War - Milada observed how nonreligious people began attending places of worship when the war started. Muslim women began to cover their head, which she had not seen in Sarajevo before. Religious identities became clearer. She believes people gravitated towards their own groups to feel safer.
Religious Freedom - She believes it is a human right to choose and practice one’s religion.
Section Four (32:43-44:16)
Religion - Milada observed how World Relief members would pray, and how it would make the impossible seem possible. She started reading the Bible to be able to participate.
Religion - She read Biblical stories that showed her how humanity is still committing the same atrocities. The stories felt closer to her after her experiences.
Education, Work - She worked as a case manager, part-time teacher’s aide, and with refugee high school students.
Religion, Education - Like in Yugoslavia, she was trained to not speak about religion and keep it separate from public schools.
Section Five (44:16-53:04)
Interfaith Friendship, Religion - She had a Muslim colleague in UNICEF and they would ask one another to pray for each other despite being of different faiths.
Immigration Process, Career - Discusses differences between faith-based and secular resettlement agencies.
Section Six (53:04-1:01:12)
Religion - She believes that refugees do not think about their spiritual needs as much as their physical ones upon resettling.
Religious Freedom, Cultural Adjustment - After a while, refugees realize the shortcomings of their new country and the importance of keeping their traditions alive. She believes that freedom in America reassures people that despite living in a new country, they can still keep their identity. She says that immigrant parents have to accept that their children may want to marry someone of a different group or make their own decisions.
Section Seven (1:01:36-1:06:54)
Cultural Adjustment - Because of her children and grandchildren, America feels more like home to her. But she would like to retain ties to her old country, pass on traditional recipes to her children, etc.