I have made it back to the U.S. and as I sit here taking care of things I have neglected for the past two months, I can’t help but reflect back on my time in Sarajevo. It went by so fast and I was not ready for it to be over. The last few days were consumed with everyone packing up their suitcases and doing their last minute souvenir shopping. My mom arrived in Sarajevo on the Friday before the program ended and it was so great to have the opportunity to show her around the city and have her experience my life over the past two months.
For the last two weeks of the program, I had the opportunity to be up in the moutains of Bjelasnica, where some of the Olympic events took place in 1984. I was working at a summer camp put on by Wings of Hope. It was such a great experience and I really enjoyed getting to know the 29 kids that came to the camp. I helped teach English lessons along with a wonderful woman named Dejana, who volunteers with Wings of Hope. In addition to the English lessons, there were also workshops in music, theater and arts and crafts, which were led by a group of young Dutch teachers who have volunteered their time to work at this camp. In the afternoons, we played sports with the kids, which was a blast, especially the days that we played baseball and frisbee. At night, there was always some kind of activity going on whether it be jewelry making, a movie or a disco. By the end of our time at camp, I grew really attached to all the kids. Many of them come from very difficult home lives and most of them came from families that couldn’t afford to put enough food on the table, but these kids were some of the most amazing and most sensitive and caring kids that I have ever met. I was truly inspired by each and every one of them. Spending the last two weeks of the program up in the mountains was the absolute perfect way to end my time in Bosnia and I am so grateful that my supervisor, Maja, brought us along for that experience. I know that when I look back on my time in Bosnia, these past two weeks will be some of my most favorite memories.
Back in Sarajevo, we had our final dinner with the group on Wednesday night at the Brewery and it was so nice to be together for one final time. We spent some time reminiscing about our time here as well as looking to the future when we are back in Denver and will have this amazing experience to share with one another. On the last night that we were all together, many of us made the trek up the hillside to an old Turkish fort where we listened to the canon being set off to mark the breaking of the fast for Ramadan. We feasted on traditional Somun bread and delicious pizza as we watched the sunset over Sarajevo. It was a very symbolic experience to watch the sunset with this group of people as our time together here in Sarajevo comes to a close. We all had our ups and downs, but overall, I think everyone enjoyed the experience. I count myself lucky to be leaving Sarajevo with 11 new friends to hang out with in Denver as well as several great Bosnian friends to come back and visit.
I am also grateful that my mom had the opportunity to visit and I got to show her around this amazing city and show her why I have fallen in love with it. We also had the chance to visit Istanbul for a few days before heading back to the States. As always I think it was a bittersweet goodbye. There are things I am looking forward to here, back home, but I already miss Sarajevo so much. I have already decided that I will be returning next year with the intention of returning to summer camp once more and re-visiting this city. If an opportunity arises to move here, I would take it in a second.