I chose this photo for a few reasons, but all of them culminate in the ultimate feeling I get from looking at this picture, which is the same feeling I have every time we meet someone new in Bosnia. It’s a feeling of deep respect, hospitality, and cooperation, not only in the way the Bosnians interact with us, but also the way in which they interact with each other. In spite of all we’ve heard about the deep ethnic and cultural divisions here, I feel as if everything we have witnessed during our trip has helped us realize that these are not the only relationships that exist among Bosnians.
One of the guides asked me today, “how do you feel about my country?” I’m pretty sure that he meant the physical landscapes and geographical features since we were just finishing up our hike, but I found it hard to come up with an adequate response. I also thought about how he had phrased the question: he said “my country,” which has a connotation of belonging and ownership. I wonder how I would’ve asked that question to someone visiting the US. Would I have said “my country”? Or would I have said “our country” or simply “the United States” or “here”?
I think the words we find ourselves using very meaningful and telling about our relationship with our homeland. I wonder if my relationship with the US will ever be as deep, meaningful, and complicated as it seems to be for people from this country. I wonder if the United States will ever feel truly like “my country.” I wonder if I will ever be able to say that phrase with the same pride that our guide did today.