Marija Cetkovic took a deep breath and braced herself for the worst, but that was just a reflex; she wasn’t really afraid deep down. In fact she was feeling pretty good. She had the cool confidence of an old pro because that is what she was, and as she raised the mic with a natural, genuine smile, her slight accent piqued the interest of the audience as she explained why her company had earned an Ambassador of Respect award, the honor reserved for international contenders in the Environmental Respect Awards program sponsored by DuPont, Farm Chemicals International and CropLife.
As she stood at the front of the room, the second international award winner of the night, any remnants of fleeting jitters naturally gave way to understated assurance. Sure, she had an accent. So what? It made her seem more exotic. Yes, she was a young woman. So? Here, in this room, she was an agrochemical professional and a spokesperson for environmental stewardship first, like everyone else.
Was she Russian? Eastern European?
She and her company, Chemical Agrosava, were Serbian, she explained with pride, as she articulated all that Belgrade had to offer, from summer festivals to national monuments.
So Marija led the evening as people from eleven different countries came together to learn from each other on Tuesday night in a ballroom of the DuPont Country Club in Wilmington, Delaware, as grand and beautiful as the palaces of many of their national leaders.
On Tuesday evening under the golden chandeliers and shimmering rose and mint colored fabrics draping the doorways from way up high, the big idea was that everyone there was working towards the same thing and it was OK to celebrate that on the same level.
In Marija’s own words, “I think that the main goal that Serbian companies need to have is to learn from more developed countries. This is really a great, great opportunity to learn a bit more about crop protection in other countries as well as in the United States, and I sincerely hope that maybe the cooperation between the countries will develop on maybe a higher level for a mutual benefit.”