On the Road with Domovina Birthright Program: Ilok and Vukovar

Total Croatia News

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July 12, 2019 – As previously reported on TCN, the first Domovina Birthright Program is taking place in Croatia at the moment, an initiative between the American Croatian Association of Professionals, and the Croatian Government.

The idea of the program is to take the young adults of Croatian descent (ages 18 – 30), who wish to learn about their heritage, explore Croatia, connect with their Croatian identity and meet other young Croatian adults on an amazing trip to Croatia.

Kristiana Banđen is one of the 34 initial participants in the program, and she has kindly agreed to document her journey as she explores the country of her heritage. Over to Kristiana:

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Wow – what a journey so far, and it is only two days into the Domovina Birthright Program! It has been absolutely amazing so far.  

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Day 1

Upon meeting all the participants, with welcome messages from the organizers, we started our journey towards Ilok where we spent the afternoon drinking lots of wine to say the least!  

Once we arrived to Ilok, we were welcomed by local students who were joining us for lunch accompanied by the mayor of Ilok. Mayor Marina Budimir who welcomed us to her city with a lovely speech before the start of lunch, which by the way, was absolutely delicious. I can speak for the group and say we are all enjoying the food so much. At first, I was a bit unsure about how much food we will be getting. I eat a lot, and wondered if I would need to pack along snacks. This has not been the case at all! After a fulfilling breakfast we enjoyed a three-course meal at Iločki Podrumi with the mayor and local students. Juha, meso, palačinke and given that we were at a winery, lots and lots of vino!    

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After our lunch, we walked through the Odescalchi Palace, the central building situated in the medieval Ilok, the church and a scenic car ride down to Principovac where we enjoyed the beautiful view with, of course, more vino!  

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Day 2 was an emotional and empowering day in Vukovar visiting the hospital, the memorial centre for Vukovar’s homeland war, Ovacara Memorial Centre and payed our respects to the victims at the Memorial Cemetery of the Victims of Homeland War.  A great way to start our trip. The battle of Vukovar is what founded the independence of Croatia and is absolutely important for all Croatian descendants to know the history. Speaking to local veterans of the war along with tours of the memorial sights gave us all a great perspective and a feeling of love for the strength of our country and what we have rebuilt and overcome.  

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Follow #domovina2019 and @kristianabanden for more photos and insights.

To follow the latest news from the Croatian diaspora, follow the dedicated TCN section

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