Recognizing the need for the peoples of the fractured former Yugoslavia to center on their strengths and a united community and to leave the poison of division behind, in 1997 Dijana Groth created PLIMA, a bimonthly native-language magazine. With an entertaining and informative format, Groth uses PLIMA, which means Ocean (New) Tide; to address the needs and concerns of newly arrived refugees from her home country. As a national publication, it reaches into major U.S. cities as well as small towns, thereby becoming a networking vehicle for refugees and immigrants from the former Yugoslavia. PLIMA became their voice, whatever their ethnicity and wherever they reside.
Groth came to St. Louis, Missouri, with her parents, Ivanka and Zlatko Mruckovski, and her younger sister, Patricia, on 21. December 1978. She was fifteen years old. In the time she graduated from Maryville University in St. Louis, Missouri, with a double major in mass communications (stressing written journalism) and international understanding (Political Science Department). At the same time, she started working at a variety of jobs at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper. She married Charles Groth, a graphic artist, in 1989.
Soon, refugees from Yugoslavia started coming to St. Louis, the second-biggest resettlement area for Bosnians in the United States. Although Groth remembered her home country as sophisticated and heterogeneous, she found people coming to the United States in great physical need, but also showing signs of being divided along ethnic and religious lines. Deeply troubled, she felt there must be something she could do to help. She constantly received calls seeking aid, such as directions for turning on the heat. While assisting in as many ways possible, she decided that the community needed a magazine to educate and encourage the incoming refugees to value their multiethnic roots and, at the same time, adapt to their host country. She started publishing PLIMA.
In the beginning people were cautious. As Groth noted, “Their wounds were so fresh.” But she persisted. She and her friends did the writing, and her husband did the graphic design work for the first issues. She did everything from selling advertising and subscriptions to writing and editing the materials. However, within two years she needed a paid staff, and today she has subscribers in more than forty U.S. cities.
Groth realized music also played a role in people’s lives, providing the glue to binding people together. In 1997 she decided to bring a famous Bosnian singer to St. Louis. She thought, “It has to be possible.” After struggling with monetary and logistical issues, such as finding a neutral place for the concert, she again succeeded. People came from all over the Midwest. Since than she has sponsored other concerts in St. Louis and in Chicago, Illinois. As with her magazine, she stresses unity, picking artists reflecting the total multiethnic community.
If PLIMA is the voice of her community the concerts are its hearts. Behind these powerful tools, PLIMA and the concerts, which forge a sense of unity and allow people to adjust to their new environment, stands a young woman making her dreams a reality.
Pamela A. De Voe
Bertelson, Christine. “As Modern Fools Rush In, Angels Get Their Bread.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 19 January 1995, 1B.
Flannery, William. “Magazine Reaches Bosnians, Croats Here.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 26 May 1997, Business Plus, 12.
Groth, Dijana. Interview with author, 16 April 1999.
“Metro Watch.” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 1 June 1999, Metro, B2.
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