I have been back stateside for almost three weeks now and I still don’t know how to explain Bosnia and my experience to people who ask. For my friends who are interested and study genocide, peacebuilding, and development it is easy but for other friends and family, not so much. I’ve been asked ‘How was your trip?’ too many times to count in the past three weeks.
Here’s the short list of questions I’ve been asked:
- How was your trip?
- What did you do all summer?
- What language do they speak?
- How was it?
- What was it like? Were they different?
- Why would you go to Bosnia?
Here’s my answers:
- It was wonderful but it wasn’t a trip, not even close to a trip. It was an educational opportunity to learn about the past and present. It was a learning experience. It was a cultural experience. It was a cross-cultural experience. It was Bosnia.
- Well, I interned at an adventure tourism company that is contributing to community development in Sarajevo and other towns and cities they work in. Plus, we learned about the Bosnian War and its aftermath.
- That’s another interesting question. Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian, to outsiders like us all three are the same spoken language but politically in the Balkan region, the three are extremely different.
- It was amazingly wonderful and I learned a great deal (see previous answers for the extended answer).
- Sarajevo is just like any other European city. Yes, you can still see the scars from the war but everything is as modern as here. No, Bosnians aren’t any different from us.
- Why? Why not? Green Visions (my internship) had an advertising campaign a few years ago: Have you ever heard a boring person say, “Let’s go to Bosnia?” Exactly. Brave Enough?
This summer has been one of the most amazing experiences in my life and I am extremely honored to have been able to have learned from the people of Bosnia. Sitting here in my apartment in Denver isn’t so completely different from our hostel in Sarajevo. The mountains are only a quick drive from the city. I live with two other people and two dogs instead of 12 others but learning to share space is no different. I can’t thank Bosnia and its’ people enough for sharing their life with me. One day I will return to Bosnia, one day soon.