Kristina Pestic, '22

Reality Check: Pandemic Politics in Croatia

My project from last summer was called “Reality Check: Pandemic Politics in Croatia” and explored the impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic on Croatia, both in terms of public health and economics, since Croatia is a place so deeply dependent on the tourist trade. I researched this topic because my parents are immigrants from Croatia, and much of my family still lives there. However, although I had personal ties to the project, I also saw it as a window of opportunity to remind the Holy Cross community that we are not alone in this pandemic and that other nations, including places we don’t even think about, are also massively impacted by this crisis. Croatia, a small country in southern Europe, suffered tremendously as a result of this pandemic. Due to the country’s location on the Adriatic Sea, tourism typically is a thriving industry within the nation, but during the last year, many tourism industries and individuals involved with tourism suffered negatively. For instance, many coastal locals rent apartments, offer daily boat trips around the islands, or work in restaurants that only operate during the summer months. With the decrease in tourists from the United States and other European nations, people’s primary source of income was taken from them. Many had very little savings, and all this time they have been having to make very difficult decisions about how they and their families will survive. Moreover, this crisis impacted not only the coast but also rural Croatia. I was able to speak with farmers located in agricultural areas, and they explained that not only was the lack of tourism hurting the whole economy, but also that the prices of their farmed goods have fallen dramatically, as there has been reduced food consumption both within the nation (due to fewer tourists and less money that Croatians themselves have to spend on food) and fewer export opportunities.

What I took away from this project was that the pandemic, as the name suggests, was a global event that impacted all peoples and places around the world. A big lesson for me has been the realization that In crisis, often we focus on ourselves, our losses, and our frustrations. However, it is essential to remember that we have not been alone in these struggles; instead, other nations and peoples have also been experiencing the same kinds of pain and loss.