For this week’s blog, I chose to upload a picture of us rafting on the Neretva River this past Saturday. The weekend was an interesting combination of good/bad/extremely uncomfortable/ and a whole bunch of other emotions all wrapped up into a few days. On Thursday morning we woke up at 4 a.m. to get ready and leave at 5 a.m. to head to Srebenica. The day started off gloomy and rainy….and remained that way the rest of the day which is a pretty accurate description of the feeling overall…gloomy. Upon arriving in Srebenica, we scrambled to swap our belongings with the other half of the groups in order to get to Potocari to make it to the closing ceremony on time. The closing ceremony was for the two-week program in Srebenica that the other half of our group has been participating. This was held in the well-known Battery Factory. Not being an actual participant of the two-week program, I found myself feeling extremely uncomfortable both in the ceremony, and throughout the rest of the day as the day of mourning for those who were killed in the genocide progressed. I felt like an intruder and out of place, especially walking out behind the US ambassador. It is hard to explain exactly what I was feeling that day, but it was not pleasant… We finally left the memorial service for the 409 people that were being burying, and while walking back we were rained on and ended up finding shelter in a café. We made it back around 2 p.m. and found our way to a restaurant in Srebenica where we later ended up having dinner. That night ended up being a long, sleepless night, wanting nothing more than to be at home with loved ones.
The following day, we made our way to Tuzla in order to see the ICMP. (Another heavy weight bearing place to be). This was a great experience, much necessary to solidify the genocide and death. It’s a different experience than the day before, and in some sense more….real. I don’t know why I felt this way, but this was easier to understand than the memorial at Potocari. I am glad to have learned of the ICMP and all that they have accomplished. By the end of these two days, I was exhausted and it was time to reflect and sleep.
On Saturday, we had the opportunity to go rafting on the Nevreta River, which was a fantastic wonderful experience. I had never been rafting, but I can’t imagine there are many rivers better than the Neretva. This was able to uplift my spirits after a hard weekend, which I was grateful for. Even more inviting was the way in which we were able to juxtapose the two experiences, one so dreary versus one filled with laughter and fun, both happening in the same country at the same time. It is definitely a weird component of Bosnian life, the ability to mourn and hurt while also still enjoying life. It is both impressive and insightful as a model of how life should be lived. Below I chose to post a picture of rafting, rather than a picture of the memorial service, as it felt more my place.