Eastern Mennonite University professor Jerry Holsopple made seven appearances, including one on a television talk show, when he traveled to Serbia earlier this month to be a featured international lecturer at the Conference of Creative Industries in Nis, Serbia.
The five-day conference was designed to help young innovators from creative industries realize their ideas for improving their cities. Holsopple was the multimedia lecturer in a lineup representing the fields of design, management, advertising, architecture and information technology.
The invitation was the result of connections made through former faculty member and Serbian filmmaker Zeljko Mirkovic. The trip was sponsored by the U.S. Embassy.
At EMU, Holsopple teaches undergraduate courses in videography and digital media. He has led also courses for international peacebuilders in social media and digital media for the Summer Peacebuilding Institute at EMU’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding.
In addition to a masterclass for all conference attendees, Holsopple presented a three-hour workshop about stories, myths and symbols on the “core principles of narrative, symbolic structures and how stories define identity and culture.” In another workshop he evaluated, compared and was inspired by sixteen multi-media campaigns and projects advocating for social change, to encourage students’ own ideas.
Holsopple also presented a workshop on photography as a tool for social analysis to a group of 50-60 students at University Metropolitan and about multimedia in everyday life at the American Corner.
Between presentations, Holsopple appeared on Zona TV’s talk show, where he was asked if he could learn from the people of Serbia, a small country.
“I already have,” he replied, noting that the people he had met were “very friendly and gregarious,” and that students had invited him to eat with them in a restaurant and had answered his questions about city art. “There is a lot of deep history here, and also a culture that can be very welcoming.”
Holsopple offered the show host his take on historical perspective: “You build the new on understanding who you were. I’m always about finding the strengths in your own history, that then you say, ‘Because we are this kind of people, we are able to face the future and create a new kind of culture, because we know who we are,’” he said. “It’s not avoiding our history, but saying, ‘What in our history helps us move beyond our history?’”
Holsopple was a Fulbright scholar in Lithuania and has led several undergraduate cross-cultural trips to the region. A 2013 trip resulted in the photography exhibit and book, “Traces of a Social Movement: The Baltic Way,” about people who participated in a 630km-long human chain, formed in August 1989 across Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.