Bosnian Hospitality

In typical Bosnian fashion the unfortunate event of being sick was greeted with care and concern by everyone I met. Though I had to skip the scheduled presentation with the group I still had a learning experience in culture and hospitality. After a long sleep I ventured into a natural healing store asking for a tea that could help me feel better. The shopkeeper asked me about my symptoms and asked if I had time to sit down. He used a dictionary to explain some terms to me in English, and selected a medicine to help my chest cold. He made me tea while I waited, and showed me a book about Bosnian herbs and remedies.

Next stop was “the tea man” Hussein. He greeted me with a smile and handshake as I told him I was a student of Anna’s. He sat me in a corner away from the breeze, covered me in a blanket, and made me a delicious lemon ginger tea to help me feel better. He checked in on me and even gave me English reading materials on Sarajevo while I waited. The best part was that this was not special treatment…I noticed that he greeted strangers and friends in the same warm manner. Arriving back at the hotel I was given yet another cup of tea by our wonderful host family, and went back upstairs to sleep again.

When I first arrived here I felt so uncomfortable to be receiving gifts and attention from our hosts and guides who already gave us their time and stories. This has continued through my time here, and especially so during my sick day. I have learned that receiving kindness and generosity from others facilitates the same thing in myself. I hope to continue to learn how to be more available to both give and receive from other people, and embody this cultural facet when I return home.

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