Hussein and Srebrenica

A few nights ago, Jillian, Erin and I went to a place that our group has come to love: Hussein’s tea place. (It may have a real name, but no one uses it.) Hussein is one of the warmest most hospitable men I have ever met. Since he speaks 4 other languages but none of them are English, I floundered my way through conversation with Spanish, hand gestures, and my limited Bosnian. Every time I knew a pertinent word in Bosnian, I’d switch from Spanish to Bosnian, and Hussein would beam and clap his hands because I had said something like “sister” (sestra). He was so gracious and fun to talk to. When we had paid and were saying goodbye, he hugged me and gave me a huge kiss on the forehead. Bosnian Bucket List #247: Be kissed by a Bosnian. Check.

 

On a completely different note, for the next two weeks, six of my colleagues and I will be joining about 30 other graduate and undergraduate students from all over the world for the Srebrenica Summer University. There will be speakers and round-table discussions, poetry readings and panels. The genocide in Srebrenica (and genocide in general) will be discussed from many angles. I have so many thoughts about what that will be like, how I’ll handle the intensity of the topics, and what my role is as a foreigner/student/woman/non-Muslim/etc. attending such a sacred event as the memorial service at the end of the two weeks but in spite of all of that, it is a beautiful morning in Srebrenica. A cow is mooing outside our window, and I am looking forward to our first day here.

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