While there’s undoubtedly a number of amazing and unforgettable things to see and experience in Bosnia–from the cafe culture, the great food and beer, the beautiful churches, mosques, and synagogues, its old Ottoman and Roman structures, its quaint villages, and its beautiful landscapes–the thing that I am the most awestruck by is the people of Bosnia.
In just the short time we’ve been here, I can already say that Bosnian people are by far the most fair, kind, gracious, compassionate, and grateful people I have ever met. We have only been here for five days, and I have already been deeply affected and humbled by the people we have met. When you meet so many people who have experienced absolutely unfathomable traumas at the hands of others yet go on living without any discernible hatred or desire for vengeance, it really puts such “first world problems” as the internet not working fast enough or missing your bus into perspective. It would be impossible for me to not live my life as a more grateful individual after coming to this place and meeting these people.
Bosnians’ pride and love of their country is absolutely infectious, and seeing it firsthand has answered so many questions for me. When reading and learning about Bosnia in preparation for our trip here, I kept trying to imagine myself in their shoes and think about what I might have done if faced with the choices they had to make during the war, and I often struggled to understand the decision some made to stay in Bosnia or their targeted city even when they may have had an opportunity to leave. I can honestly (and somewhat sadly) say that if such a thing ever happened at home, I wouldn’t think twice about getting my family out and leaving it behind. However, now that I’m here, I can see and feel how deep their heritage, culture, and love for Bosnia runs and now completely understand where the fuel for their desire to stay and fight to maintain these things stemmed from. The Bosnian people I’ve become acquainted with in the past few days are full of love and pride, and I’m humbled and grateful to be here meeting them.