In our third interview with the Croatian Diaspora, we interview Suzana Fantov from Melbourne, Australia! We first met the talented and creative Suzana at one of Mladi Hrvati's (a Folkore Group in Melbourne) Annual Zabava. We were instant friends and it has always been a pleasure catching up with Suzana whenever we are down in Melbourne! You may already know her through her work in the Croatian community in Melbourne and her work at the Hrvatski Vjesnik Croatian Herald.
She is full of life which really shines through in this interview! Enjoy!
Photo: Suzana and Me (Meagan) at the Uppermoda Stall at the Croatian Food and Wine Festival at Footscray, Melbourne.
Big thanks to Meagan and Michael and best wishes to Uppermoda, our beautiful Croatian-fashion-ambassadors!
Photo: Suzana at the Uppermoda Stall at the Croatian Food and Wine Festival at Footscray, Melbourne. Visiting dear Meagan and beautiful Uppermoda stall.
Now let's talk about me. 😄 My name is Suzana Fantov, born in Croatia (Opatija) and now living in Melbourne for the last 15 years (almost). Every second year I travel to my homeland and usually stay for 3 months. Most of my friends keep telling me that I haven’t emigrated because I still behave like a tourist.
I’m a journalist and because my art is an expression of my inner self, my perception of the outer world, as long I will create, I don’t need to be titled as an artist. If art is defined as the process, then everyone who is doing the creating is by definition an artist. This is what my mum will tell you if you ask her what my job is.
For me, it’s always weird to be interviewed.
Photo: It's all about having fun!
It seems like it's been many years since I came to Melbourne from my hometown of Opatija, Croatia because every day has brought so much. However, many will say that my 15 years versus their 30, 40… is just the beginning. For me, each year was equally long and important.
I am the proud mother of a 22-year-old girl, my beautiful Stefania. She was almost 8 years old when we came here and today, she is finishing her law and economics studies. Getting married here in Melbourne, I also got my new big family, a great Croatian husband and his 2 lovely kids.
Back in Croatia, I studied arts and journalism and easily found my place in Melbourne, continuing my love and passion for art in any form. What could best describe my personality is creativity. Creativity allows me to stretch my mind, to do new and exciting things, and engage me in a way that takes me one step closer to reaching my full potential.
I do have a great deal of energy, both physical and mental. I can spend hours working on a single thing that holds my attention and remain enthusiastic all the while. This doesn't mean that I’m hyperactive or manic. 😄 Most of the time I spend a great deal of my time at rest, thinking and reflecting on the things that hold my interest. This is how I combined journalism and a few of my other passions.
Photo: Suzana on a ferry boat with the ‘Croatian Network Riders’, YASHI rally
If there’s something I love about Star Wars (besides the story, the special effects, and a long list of other things that have made this movie franchise into one of the most important ones in the entertainment industry), it’s the role given to women.
It can be said that I was lucky. At the beginning of my arrival in Australia, I knocked on the door of the editorial board of the Croatian Herald in Clifton Hill. Tomislav Starcevic, more than warmly accepted me in the newsroom which marked the continuation of my life here in Australia. Unfortunately, he passed away to early…
Being a journalist has great importance just like the importance of true journalism.
Nowadays, so many people consider every published text to be journalistic, but in reality, it is not. The Internet has provided everyone with an equal opportunity of public expression, whether by commenting or by posting their own text on a blog or page. However, it is important to know that not all published texts are actually journalistic. For me, journalism is a profession with established principles and written rules and by working in one of the oldest, ‘still alive’ newspapers written in the Croatian language in Australia. It is a great honour but also a responsibility and obligation that I share with my editorial staff.
It may seem to someone that a journalistic career consists of interviews with celebrities, festive parties, strong comments and reviews that will provoke spectacular reactions ...The main goal for both the Croatian Herald and myself is to remain objective. . Now I need to answer your question in the same way, so I’ll be objective.
All these years, my work have been marked primarily by the Croatian community. I do my reports from Croatian communities as I live in a Croatian community and I’m actively participating in the Croatian Community. This is the only way to do proper work. Who can write or tell a story about your community better than the people whose hearts are beating the same?
Communities are made by the people, and people are an endless source of information. Their works, their successes, their efforts to preserve everything that is labeled 'Croatian'.
I really appreciate every encounter I had with so many great members of our Croatian community. Croatian musicians who have visited us (e.g. Graso, Oliver, 2Cellos, Vuco, Zapresic Boys, Opca opasnost, Miroslav Skoro, Thompson, Dusko Lokin…). A few other highlights include the special interview with the President of the Republic of Croatia, beautiful gala-dinners, folklore festivals and amazing food festivals. Each of them are important for me and are a great inspiration.
This is how any story about a Croatian emigrant is being created.
My job is to write down as much as I can, because there’s an old expression that says – “If It’s Not Written, It Didn’t Happen”
Photo: A special moment with Kolinda Grabar Kitarović, President of the Republic of Croatia.
Photo: Siniša Vuco
Vuco – Croatian singer during his Australian Tour 2017
Photo: Suzana with film producer Gary Hegedus
Photo: We (Uppermoda) were lucky enough to be interviewed by Suzana for the Croatian Herald.
Photo: Suzana with Gazde on their Australian Tour
The fact that I work as a journalist inevitably involves me in so many activities and events within the community. Which is a great thing because you are always well informed about the majority of activities in communities and in the same time, you are aware of community needs and the ways how you or someone else can contribute.
By promoting all spheres of Croatian tradition, culture and heritage, we are achieving a ‘great deal’. The texts published in the Croatian Herald & news from the Croatian community in Australia are also shared by numerous Croatian portals.
Well, there’s always good news and there’s also the bad news. ‘Bad news sells. If it bleeds, it leads. No news is good news, and the good news is no news.’ Those are the classic rules for the evening broadcasts and the morning papers. Today, when the information is being spread and monitored in different ways, new ‘rules’ are discovered. I think it is better if we think this way. Good news positively influences our readers.
Readers also tend to share articles that are exciting or funny, or that inspired negative emotions like anger or anxiety, but not articles that left them merely sad. You can not run away from the problems in society or avoid negative emotions but you need to find the right way to present them.
So here’s my point: try to solve your problem before it's going viral. 😄 It doesn’t matter how big or small it is; what it is about (country, nation, politics, community, religion…). Media manipulation isn't new, don't believe everything you read on the Internet.
I might be specially connected with the Croatian Catholic Community of Sv. Nikola Tavelic in Clifton Hill, because this is the parish to which I belong, and I gladly assist whenever is necessary. With so many ideas running through my brain, I think I could help a lot. Some of my ideas were successfully realized and with the help of others, we certainly made a nice contribution.
At the end of the day, a sense of belonging is what fills you.
First of all, the most important thing is to preserve your language (mother tongue).
There are many reasons why language(s) die. The reasons are often political, economic or cultural in nature. Migration also plays a large role in language change. It is the same with the Croatian language. We can not lose a part of who we are. This is why I like to do everything in the Croatian language. Even this interview was planned to be in Croatian. Hopefully, my English is not that bad and you will get the point.
Furthermore, most people believe knowledge is power and success depends on how much a person knows. If you ask me, knowledge is power but knowledge without action can be useless. That’s why it is a good thing to use all social networks and media for these purposes. And this is how I’m happy to share everything I learned about Croatia’s rich heritage.
I am a very curious person, thirsty for knowledge and I’m using all available sources to find out as much as possible about our history, traditions, customs, folklore ... Through the literature, but also through numerous conversations with our people, especially from our elders. I write down everything that I think should be written down and passed on.
All those topics together in some way are making a promotion not only of our heritage but of our beautiful country too.
In our family, we speak our home language, Croatian. All the customs we cherished at home in Opatija, are absolutely preserved and we continue them here in Melbourne. Whether it be Christian customs (eg Christmas, Easter, big holidays) or preparing Croatian traditional dishes.
One has to adapt to a new country, new people and customs, but never give up its roots. This is what you brought with you, so you need to keep it and carry on.
I’m not dancing folklore but I do have so many friends who are preserving our folklore and they were so nice to me that they literally dressed me up for the celebration of Cardinal Stepinac St. Day at St Patrick's cathedral in Melbourne.
Although my day is completely fulfilled, most of the time I do not even consider it as 'another workday' because everything I do, I really love and never call it a “job.” They say that people have only one great love, but it seems that I am not among them. 😄
Besides the writing, photography, fine arts, creative work, I have a big passion for martial arts, karate. After almost ten years of training here in Australia with Go-Kan-Ryu Karate club, I can say that karate is an integral part of my life. I have achieved my personal goals. I am wearing a black belt 1.Dan (Shodan) ready to take on a new challenge; I am a Sensei (trainer) with the completed Karate Judge and Referee exam, but every new training is always a new challenge. It doesn’t matter what grade you are (colour of your belt), you are always learning.
I am still painting and had some opportunities to set up my exhibitions (photography and paintings), even on the topic of karate. It was a great honour to donate my painting, oil on canvas, painting of Sv. Nikola Tavelic, to my parish. The painting was blessed on the very day of the patron saint's celebration, and it made me especially proud.
I love to organize themed parties with my best friends and family so all the madness of my creativities come to the forefront. Making props, creating costumes, art and crafts in many forms and shapes; that is how I relax.
With all the work, household and family, creative work and sports, there is always time to travel. The restless spirit is hard to settle down in one place. Getting to know new places is good 'therapy' and food for my soul.
Photo: Food at one of Suzana's themed parties
Photo: Food at one of Suzana's themed parties "Hell Food"
Photo: Akido and Karate
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. But I wonder, what else do “they” say?
Photography is a way of feeling, of touching, of loving. What you have caught on film is captured forever… It remembers little things, long after you have forgotten everything. See? They say a lot!
Photo: Mystery Island Vanuatu
Photo: Transformation: Be your best
By doing your best, over and over, eventually, you are going to master the art of transformation.
Oooh, that's really hard to pinpoint now. The best answer is 'google it!' 😄
Once you start exploring, there is no end. There are so many groups with the prefix 'Cro'; Croatian portals, websites of every Croatian organization, society, online newspapers, books you can subscribe to and archives. Sometimes it's enough to type 'Cro' and if you're interested in something specific, one click can lead to another. Today, at least, that's not a problem.
Najlakše je putem emaila Hrvatskog vjesnika (za sve one koji žele i imaju što podijeliti, trebaju kakvu informaciju ili pomoć oko oglašavanja email@example.com , firstname.lastname@example.org ) , zatim na službenoj stranici Facebook Hrvatskog vjesnika.
Svi oni koji bi možda bili zainteresirani početi se baviti sa karateom (bez obzira na godine, spol, tjelesnu kondiciju) također se mogu javiti porukom na Fb stranici GKR Karate Doncaster East Dojo a sami još dodatno pogledati web stranicu https://www.gkrkarate.com/
We hope you enjoyed our third Croatian Diaspora interview in our Spotlight Series! If you would like to be interviewed or would like to recommend someone let us know at email@example.com
♡ Meagan & Michael
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Mirjana Cestar is the President of Croatia House - a cultural association established to promote Croatian performing and visual Arts in Australia. Continue reading to find out how Mirjana has been connecting Australia & Croatia and to find out more about the films Croatia House is featuring at the Croatian Film Festival