ABOUT ME. SHORTLY 😂
Hey, this is me, sitting in an urban garden in the Mauerpark, Berlin, with a UFO* on my shoulders. My name is Dana Kikić Nemmert, I am a maker and this is my journey, so far. Hop on! Love to have you around.
I was born in a small town in the South of Serbia, Niš, known to history as an imperial Roman City, a place where Frederick II Barbarossa, the red-haired Teutonic feudal, rested before he met his end during the III crusader war on the way to Constantinople, and, after the fall of Constantinople ( or the siege, to paraphrase Orhan Pamuk ) as a place where for centuries the mighty Ottoman Empire wracked havoc over the peasant Christian population, resulting in a transgenerational sense of fear and fearlessness at the same time, deep down in the Balkans. ⚔️
I grew up in Belgrade, where my parents relocated before my birth, but never arrived, always keeping a tight connection with the south-Serbian city. My childhood was mobile and busy, constantly on the road between Bridge Championships all over Europe ( my father was an avid player, representing Yugoslavia, then Serbia internationally ), Belgrade, Niš, our weekend house further down in the south, Germany, where we had close relatives and Pula, Croatia, where we had a stripe of land just next to the sea. 🚗
Imagine my horror when the Yugo- paradise ended during the Yugoslav wars in the 90ies! Stuck in Milošević Serbia in my teenage years, I knew only one thing: I need to find a way to get out of there, asap. And I did. I used all the skills, knowledge, and talents I had to break the borders. I used a 90ies dial-up modem and slow Internet connection to hack my way into interrail and various internships, sometimes going as far as Budapest, Hungary to get the visa, when Belgrade was closed for tourism. Soon I learned, queuing in front of endless consulates: to be able to travel freely I need to become proficient in any of the so-called “Mangelberufe” - understaffed professions in the EU, particularly in Germany. In the 90’ these were IT and biotech and I’d chosen the latter. My only connection to IT was killing Froggy on Commodore 64 and building the army of creatures in Heroes of Might and Magic until I slay all opponents on my first PC, day in and day out during my studies and the infamous NATO bombing of Belgrade in 1999. Luck favors the prepared mind, and so it happened that, after a set of international academic references, I finally landed a scholarship for Ph.D. studies in Berlin. 👩🏼🎤 Sounds like a rescue plane in the times of Covid-19, right? Well. No. It was the beginning of a true nightmare.
EAST VS WEST OR THE OTHER KIND OF WAR
In a crash course about the inequalities between the East and West, western plain arrogance and arrogance of ignorance, and new forms of submissiveness of nations, I learned on the top of my skin and deep down in my emotional brain and intuitive stomach, about "liaisons dangereuses" between German professors from Bavaria and their Eastern European students, about using the means and powers bestowed upon them from the public to do scientific research to exploit human resources from all over the world and especially the countries of former "Eastern bloc" and the Asian continent, about geographic and personal connections that circumvent all applications for highly honorable jobs, and about the human moral that looked more distorted the higher you climbed.
The more I observed, the more I appreciated the ruthlessness of the Balkans – at least the human dark side, when present, was evident, open, and clear, so you knew when to run and hide. In Germany, this darkness was no less but hidden in plain sight, wrapped in kindness and socially acceptable, well, "misbehaviors".
It took me some time and many disappointments to learn that, but what did not kill me made me stronger, so I became something like a social warrior, verbally confronting people with their hypocrisy. I was also learning to read people better and better and to watch carefully what they do, not what they say. This school of life brought me further than any university. I was choosing more and more wisely, settled down, and left academic science for good when my daughter was born in 2009.
DEVIL IN THE DETAILS: EAST VS WEST GERMANY
After leaving academia I suffered in more or less interesting jobs with fewer horror experiences and more reality checks, but the same baseline: except professors from Bavaria became old GDR apparatchiks reminiscence of Milošević. I learned quickly that the deeper you dive into German society, the more you see and feel the cracks from divided Germany. As in the Balkans, it will take at least another generation to heal the rift.
To understand the political system better, I went back to school and completed an Executive Master in Public Policy at the Hertie School of Governance while working full time and raising two small kids, got a mild burn out, and realized that even though my general education became much wider, my understanding of human nature was even more perplexing 🤣
KNITTING AND OTHER THINGS
Somewhere along the way while settling down, I discovered knitting and met my husband, not necessarily in that order, but the tides turned in my favor and life became easy and full of love and support. This enabled me to explore my creativity and dare do things I’d never thought I would.
Three kids later, the last one born in 2018, I said my final goodbye to the latest asshole boss imitating my Slavic accent while looking at my a** (oh yes! let's talk about widespread sexism in the workplace), and decided to do my own thing. This is where you will find me now.
I am scared and happy at the same time. I have never stroked on my own experienced and determined like this. It took me a while to overcome my fixation on “having to have a proper job ” imposed by my family, my education, and society. But, I am actively fighting against all inner and outer prejudices and am realizing more and more that being self-employed is more like juggling ten jobs at the same time than having fun.
Having an analogue childhood and then leapfrogging into the slasher lifestyle is scary, but fun. When it overwhelms me, I put on my rose-colored glasses and turn up the Spotify female empowerment playlist 😂. I also work out regularly. That helps a lot!
Over the last decade and more of working in different professions, I learned only one thing is certain: change. There is nothing a man or woman invented that another man or woman cannot understand. You can learn and grow in any direction at any time of your life, especially with the right set of cards that are mixed again and again, sometimes in your favor, sometimes against you. Overcoming those bad hands will bring you even further, just stay aware there is always light at the end of the tunnel. The only constant in human life is the change, and you need to be able to adapt. This is in our intrinsic nature. You do not need to become a “can do” caricature, but you hold the capacity for your happiness in your own hands. And the capacity for change. A constant trajectory becomes boring after a while, and - as you know now - Boredom Kills ☺️.