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The Ionian

The Student News Site of Iona University

The Ionian

The Student News Site of Iona University

The Ionian

2nd Annual Serbian Day showcases the vibrancy of Serbian culture

Adrian Vazquez
At the 2nd Annual Serbian Day, Aleksandar Slavkovic ’26 performs as the lead singer for a Serbian student concert.

On Mar. 2, Burke Lounge swelled with energizing music, fast-paced dancing, and infectious enthusiasm. A major beacon of cultural pride organized in collaboration between the Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of Saint Sava, the Cultural and Artistic Society “Opančići” and the General Consulate of the Republic of Serbia in New York, Serbian Day garnered a crowd of over 300 people from the Serbian diaspora and Iona community to appreciate a showcase of Serbian culture.  

To commence the event, Iona International President Lazar Paroški ’25 delivered opening remarks followed by a passionate speech on Serbian cultural pride and history by General Consul Vladimir Božović. “Never forget that you are the proud sons and daughters of Nikola Tesla, Mihail Pupin, and other holy forefathers of our country,” declares Božović, “Proudly wear the Serbian name.” 

The program involved traditional folk-dance performances by Opančići, a student concert and multiple professional music performances. Highly synchronized Opančići dancers glided throughout the room in subgroups or pairings, displaying the nimbleness and coordination inherent to Serbian dancing.  

Student performers Jovan Nastić, Luka Nastić and Aleksandar Slavković organized a brief concert, performing modern Serbian music. The vocal emphasis placed on certain moments and genuine passion present in the singing of Slavković gripped the audience’s attention, despite the lyrics being sung in Serbian. 

The finale started with Korean opera singer Juhyun Lee giving a powerful performance of the song “Far Away”. Vasilije Dragović and Jutin Dragović then took the stage, where Vasilije played the clarinet, and his brother Justin sang the song “Oj Kosovo, Kosovo”.  

The Serbian Day Festival at Iona was inspired by my personal situation of being far from home, where I deeply missed the cultural aspects of Serbia,” remarks Paroški, “I wanted to share these elements with others at Iona.”  

Many Iona students did not know about the vibrant Serbian culture present in New Rochelle prior to Serbian Day. “I love the dancing and the food,” notes Osei Dunn-Cardriche ’27, “I’m surprised that there’s a sizeable local Serbian community.” 

Throughout the Serbian Day performances, Serbians and Iona students alike broke into rhythmic clapping in support of the various performers. All the music and singing were in Serbian, yet the radiant emotion stirred everyone into participation.  

After enjoying some of Opančići’s dances, event attendees joined with Opančići in performing the traditional “kolo” dance, a circle dance that involves dozens of people. “As both a Serbian and an Ionian, I am proud and grateful that these two communities joined in celebrating Serbian Day at Iona University,” explains Iona professor Dr. Smiljana Petrovic. 

Serbian Day was a labor of love realized through the support of multiple organizations, coordinated with the dedication of Paroški. “Lazar’s organizational skills made this possible”, says one student.  

“Serbian Day is an excellent example of multiculturalism on campus,” adds Eamon Kobel ’24, “We should continue to spread the spirit of cultural celebration, with Serbian Day as the model.”

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Adrian Vazquez, Assistant News Editor

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