Teaching Professor and Director of Undergraduate Interdisciplinary Studies Mary Chayko spent seven days in Belgrade, Serbia in Sept. 2019 launching the translation of her book Superconnected: The Internet, Digital Media, and Techno-Social Life into Serbian. “Superpovezani is an absolutely excellent book translation,” stated Dusica Lisoak, who served as in-person translator for one of Chayko’s lectures and gave her a history-based tour of the city. “Book translations are rarely as well done as this. Superpovezani is a one in a million translation.”
Chayko was impressed not only by the book’s translation but by the kindness and generosity of the Serbian people, particularly her hosts Zoran Hamovic, Manager and Editor-in-Chief of Clio Publishing, who commissioned the translation, Prof. Milena Dragicevic Sesic of the Faculty of Dramatic Arts at the University of the Arts, and the members of the American Embassy at Belgrade who facilitated the trip and attended many of the events. “Zoran and Milena made me feel instantly at home in Belgrade,” Chayko shared. “Everything we did together was interesting, collaborative, and fun.”
A press conference on Sep. 10 kicked off the events. Journalists from such Serbian publications as Novi Magazin and the daily newspaper Politika interviewed Chayko. A public discussion of Superpovezani at the Cultural Centre of Belgrade followed. Along with Hamovic and Dragicevic Sesic, Serbian scholars Dalibor Petrovic and Maya Vukadinovic provided analysis and commentary on the book. Chayko responded to their comments, discussed the book with attendees, and signed copies of it.
The next day, Chayko was a featured speaker at the “Digitalni Pogon” conference on media and information literacy, where she also did a book signing. She shared the relevance of the book for the teaching-learning process to an audience of teachers, librarians, and psychologists, and explained how digital technologies and social media can be used in the classroom and in libraries to enhance learning. “Modern superconnected students are predisposed to learn within social networks,” Chayko taught. “They are highly reliant on feedback, easily distracted in nonmediated settings, and comfortable learning by doing. Students in the digital age want to create knowledge, not to simply receive it.”
On Sep. 12, Chayko provided the opening keynote address for the conference “New Horizons of Culture, Arts, and Media in the Digital Environment,” sponsored by the Faculty of the Dramatic Arts in Belgrade. She spoke about her research into the enmeshment of the online and the offline, and the reality of the digital experience, with an audience of scholars and educators from around the world. She also participated in the conference’s opening panel discussion the prior evening, and moderated a session on cultural trends and innovations. “The keynote address was probably the highlight of my trip,” Chayko said. “That, and hanging out in the cafes that line practically every street!”
“Belgrade is a beautiful, walkable city, and the people there were some of the nicest that I have ever met,” Chayko concluded. “I can’t wait to return there with my family.”