It almost feels weird to be back. Especially after spending the entire summer romanticizing the idea of finally being able to come “home.” Instead of feeling a sense of overwhelming relief and comfort, I feel foreign and misplaced. Like someone has plucked me from an amazing adventure of new beginnings and strange people and has filtered me back into a fishbowl of practicality and boring, mundane routines. To have experienced so much personal growth in only three short months is a true gift. I am so thankful to have been able to have the opportunity to experience Bosnia this summer with the Global Practice Bosnia Program.
Whenever people ask me “How was Bosnia?” I’m never quite sure what to say. Is there even a word to explain my experience? Of course it was positive overall, but there were definitely some moments of devastating sadness. We were confronted with the realities of war and acquainted with the survivors of a genocide. Not every moment was full of light and happiness. Seeing the remains of those who were killed in Srebrenica, meeting Saliha and the Bone Man, standing amongst the final resting spots of thousands at Potochari–these are some of the saddest yet most profound moments of my life. These memories will stay with me forever. If there is one thing I learned in Bosnia, it is that you can take away just as much from something awful as you can from something good. That in the end, we can learn from the horrors and evil parts of humanity, and at least attempt to prevent them from happening again.
“How was Bosnia?” I can’t ever answer this question honestly. Because being honest means reopening wounds and reliving memories I do not want to relive. It means explaining things I wish I didn’t have to, and telling stories for those who never lived to tell them themselves. It almost always means tears. Only my fiancé, my parents, and my closest friends know the intimate details about my time in Bosnia. And of course, the people that were there.
Before we began this trip, I didn’t ever think that Bosnia (of all places!) would be able to weasel itself into my heart and impact me the way other people had claimed it did for them. Fortunately, I was wrong. Bosnia has burrowed itself deep into my heart and soul, and whether I like it or not, it is now a part of me. I know I’ll be back someday. After all, I drank from the Sebilj.