In the past two weeks, I’ve been fortunate to talk with several Bosnians who simply amaze me. The first man was thirty years old and had to flee with his family during the war. He’s been living in the U.S. ever since and was just now returning to Sarajevo. We talked about many things and I tried to explain why I decided to come here and why I think that Bosnia is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. From my perspective, Sarajevo encompasses all of the things that make up a wonderful city: the natural landscape, the warm and caring people, the rich culture, and the resilience that it exemplifies all enrapture me. His perspective on Sarajevo was much different, however. The reason it has taken him so long to return to the place he once called his home is because he only sees and feels pain here now. The recovery of the city, while amazing to him, seems to be a mirage. Everywhere he looks, he can only see the loved ones that he lost and the fear and anger that followed him even to America.
This past weekend, I also spoke with several other Bosnians who quite literally wanted me to take them back to the States with me. They had many (not so positive) things to say about their country. To them, America seems the ideal place to live and they did not fail to mention – many times – how fortunate I am to be a U.S. citizen. This perspective was very humbling to me. So often, I express extreme frustration at the things that occur in the United States and I fail to acknowledge the good. Rather than becoming stuck in my way of thinking, I need to realize that from another’s perspective, I have been given an amazing gift simply by being fortunate enough to have been born in the U.S. Even if they do not realize it, these Bosnians have allowed me to see the world through their eyes and have helped me to realize (yet again) that life and how we experience it is truly just a matter of perspective.