Yay Sarajevo!

Well we finally made it! As I had expected, Sarajevo is everything and more than what I thought it would be. With a delicate balance between destruction and construction, old and new, hot and air-conditioned streets, and lots and lots of bread and really healthy food, I know that what we have seen does not even begin to scratch the surface of this city. During our morning runs we have been able to discover many areas of the city and that is been the most helpful in figuring out a sense of direction…however at the expense of some killer leg workouts! Don’t worry, our calves are going to look great from the plethora of hills and many staircases throughout the city. Anyways, on to my very first impression. To be honest, upon arriving and driving from the airport to our place (my boyfriend insists I call it place instead of hostel because apparently hostel sounds like something from Taken) I was actually pretty nervous/anxious/didn’t know what to do with myself. This being my first trip to Europe or anywhere outside continental U.S besides Canada and Mexico makes this reaction understandable. What I wasn’t expecting was how quickly the feeling would fade away. Later that night I went out with a few people and it instantly felt similar to home. I find it very interesting how you can be in a place that is drastically different from everything you have ever known but it can still feel like a ‘home’ at the end of the day simply by sharing a few laughs and good conversation. Adding to this idea, I feel very fortunate to be part of such an interesting and well-knit group. Its rare to be involved in a group living situation that does not have clashing personalities, and so far it has been a blast getting to know everyone. We have people coming from many disciplines, which makes for a pedagogical environment unlike one that would be received in classroom. Through another vein, I wanted to tae this blog to express my excitement for the official start of my internship! I have to say that I really had no idea what to expect when Ann first mentioned the Center for Healthy Aging. Being exposed to limited healthcare systems for the elderly, I had envisioned more of a nursing home, which I doubted my ability to aid with but was interested nonetheless. However, upon meeting Sejdefa (sorry if I spelled that wrong) and Minela, I am happy to say that I AM SO EXCITED!!!!! Haha. Sejdefa created the Center for Healthy Aging three years ago, which was a task in itself, but to learn of its expansion and growth was beyond impressive. She has spread the incredible and much needed idea of preventative care to multiple southeast European countries in similar economic situations to BiH. The surface idea behind the Center for Healthy Aging is to promote wellness, health and companionship for an elderly population that lost most everything during the war. Many of the children and grandchildren have left, leaving this population in BiH without the familial support inherent in Bosnian culture. This idea was better solidified by a conversation I had with an older Bosnian man on the airplane from Munich to Sarajevo. In our broken-English conversation, he was able to express a deep disconnect from his traditional Bosnian culture which has been lost due to his children and other family members fleeing to America (Washington DC) during the war. He mentioned is desire to learn English in order to spreak with and get to know his children and grandchildren. It was amazing to notice the importance of simple things, such as the ability to speak to your grandparents, which are often taken for granted. Although this happened before I met Sejdefa and Minela, it helped me gather a better understanding of the importance of the Center for Healthy Aging’s mission.  Overall, I am so excited to have such a great opportunity this summer and could not ask for a better experience thus far. 

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One thought on “Yay Sarajevo!

  1. Kyrene, my name is Kyra and I interned at the Center for Healthy Aging as part of the Project BiH 2011 group. Please say hi to Sejdefa and Minela from me and enjoy your summer there!

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