The following weeks after Bosnia were filled with many amazing moments as I was able to continue my travels. Despite the breathtaking sites I was seeing, I kept thinking about what I had just experienced in Bosnia. Being in Bosnia and the whole experience is something I will continue to reflect upon and learn from.
When I returned home, a friend and I went on a bike ride in the middle of the afternoon, which wasn’t the best idea we had since it was blazing hot and the sun was beating down on us. As we were biking along the path, it suddenly began to pour rain. We quickly turned around and were racing against mother nature to get back to our apartment and out of the rain. On the way back we began laughing uncontrollably. There was something about biking in the rain that instantly made me feel like a kid again. I didn’t care about the rain, or getting wet because it was honestly the most fun I had in a long time. As quickly as the rain and laughter came, the unsettling thoughts of Bosnia’s past flashed in my mind. I felt guilty for being able to experience this when so many were racing bullets instead of the rain. So many children couldn’t ride bikes or play outside during the war for fear of being gunned down. When these thoughts enter my mind, I try to remember the incredible resiliency that was shown throughout the war and genocide. This resiliency is still continued on today, and what I try to explain to anyone that askes about my time in Bosnia. I have had many conversations about Bosnia and the survivors of the war and genocide with people I have just met, and those that have been in my life for years. It takes more than a few minutes to try to explain all of the complicated history, war and genocide, let alone my experience while also trying to tell the stories of those we met with while in Bosnia. I am still processing and trying to decipher what happened so explaining it all to someone else has been a struggle for me. But it is something I must do. We all owe it to the survivors and to ourselves to share the facts of what happened in Bosnia.
Although I am no longer in Bosnia, I still feel such a strong connection to the people and the country. I don’t think this will ever change. Even though we were only there for a few weeks, it feels like a lifetime was spent there.
I am so thankful for the many people that welcomed us with open arms. The vulnerability of those that shared their stories and their homes with us is something I will cherish and continue to talk about. Sladjana, our program assistant, made this experience more meaningful and powerful by sharing her own personal experience. I cannot put into words the gratitude I have for Ann, our professor, who brought this experience to us and continues to build relationships with the people in Bosnia. One day I hope to return, but for now I will keep talking, sharing, discussing and reflecting.