It’s hard to pick a favorite place or experience in Sarajevo. The city itself is small and condensed, yet I continue to discover new things every day. Wandering the hills of Sarajevo has quickly become my favorite activity- just as long as I remember to bring my camera with me. Not only do the more suburban (?) areas offer new restaurants, shops and sites, but they offer the opportunity to get out of the central tourist area and see where Bosnians live (literally- I have accidentally walked into many backyards thinking it would bring me back down the hill).
Then there is the countryside. This week, I had the opportunity to go into the mountains with the Center for Healthy Aging for a picnic and opportunity to dance and exercise with the elderly who are associated with the center. Attempting (and mostly failing) to partake in traditional Bosnian dances surrounded by rolling green hills revealed a whole new side of Sarajevo and the Bosnian people. I even met the mayor and got a Bosnian name! (Mrka)
In a more official context, our group excursions this week included a trip to the U.S. Embassy where we met with Ambassador Moon. It was interesting to see what progress the country has made in his time here as well as what he considered still needed to be done. He was very passionate about social and civil society development- particularly in the areas of women’s empowerment and programs targeting the youth (my two areas of interest!). Listening to the Ambassador, it was clear that many parallels exist between the focus of U.S. involvement and what the Bosnians I have talked to consider to be important for progress within the country (a refreshing observation for an International Development student).
The complexity of this country becomes more apparent every day, particularly as I continue to be exposed to both local and international viewpoints through everyday activities and our weekly excursions. As Jillian mentioned in her blog post, it is important to stay open and try to soak up as much as possible. It seems that the more I learn, the less I realize I know…but I think that’s the point.