Things I will miss about Sarajevo:

Hearing the church bells when I walk to my internship in the morning.

Hearing the call to prayer when I walk back from my internship in the afternoon.

The 24 hour pekara, and buhtla.

Exploring the shops in copper alley.

Conversations in broken English with my co-workers, and the convenience of Google Translate.

The eleven year-old girl who has autism that I have been lucky enough to spend some time with.

Conversations with the locals.

FOOD!!! All of it!

Things I look forward to when I get home:

My fiance, friends, and family.

My cat.

My HUGE bed.

Privacy.

Bacon.

The insight from this experience which I may not gain until I have returned home.

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During our time here I have been trying to photograph all of the graffiti I come across.  This cat can be found surrounded by any number of flowers in many places throughout the city.  A few weeks ago I discovered that the cat signifies a location where children were killed during the war.  This fact makes it more difficult to take a photo of the art.  On the other hand, I find it to be a reminder of how war has consequences beyond the harm to those who are soldiers, and I also appreciate these small memorials to the children who were lost.

A writer and former professor from Gettysburg College visited ZeneZenama last week and interviewed our Director.  This was all very interesting, but the “a ha” moment for me was during a conversation with a young woman who mainly works with the organization’s finances.  She said that her reasons for considering herself to be a feminist come from what she saw in her mother during the war.  She was about 7 years old when the war began, and she recalls having to move a lot.  Her father was gone, and her mother had to provide for her and her brother.  She says that there was always some food, they always had water, and her mother worked very hard to ensure they had what they needed to survive.  She said that reflecting on the how her mother and other women dealt with these circumstances during the war is why she is a feminist today.

Family Meals

I recently attended the film “Family Meals” which is a documentary being shown as a part of the Sarajevo Film Festival.  It’s about the director, who is a Croatian woman and also a lesbian.  The film was comprised of conversations she had about her sexuality while making and eating meals with different family members.  The concept and the film were both wonderful, and I enjoyed it very much.  I have always considered myself to be open-minded about and supportive of the LGBT community, and having close relationships with both gay and transgendered individuals has contributed to this.  When the film ended, the director answered questions from the audience.  One person asked if she thought that her family life, which is far from the accepted idea of “traditional” is what made her gay.  At first I was appalled by the question, until I realized where I was.  The LGBT community in the U. S. has certainly created progress as far as societal attitudes, but still has a great distance to go in Eastern Europe.  In this region of the world, the same community has even further.  The distributor of the film stood up and expressed that she completely backs this film, and fully intends to screen it wherever possible-especially in this region.  She said that the fact that people have questions of this variety demonstrates what an important message the film contains and how badly the public needs to see it.  I agreed entirely.  Then I thought about how difficult of a challenge the LGBT community in this area faces.  Coming from someone who thought they understood the population, and subsequently had their mind blown at GSSW while simultaneously agreeing that both gender and sexuality exist on a spectrum, I cannot imagine trying to get the people who live in this region to understand that concept any time soon.  There is so much to be done to educate the people about this topic, and to fight negative societal attitudes toward the LGBT community here.  Trying to take the perspective of someone in the LGBT community in this region and examining the battle that lies ahead is a daunting task.  This becomes even more daunting when considering that in Sarajevo, tensions among different populations are so tangible.  It could be that being gay in a city that is struggling with ethnic tension and coming back from war would make it difficult to try to educate people on another difference, which may be common ground for all ethnicities to come together and agree to be against. I do believe, however, that this film will have an important impact on educating Eastern Europeans and creating positive change for everyone involved.

Dubrovnik

Spent the weekend in Dubrovnik with a few classmates. We had an excellent time, once we figured out how to avoid upsetting the bus drivers. I thought it was difficult to break large bills in Sarajevo, but I had a far more difficult time in Croatia. We decided to walk the walls around the old city, which seemed like the best way to see all of the sights and stay within our time constraints. It was great, and the view was amazing. I have been told several times how to convert Celsius to Fahrenheit, but I can’t do that much math in my head. I have decided that it was about 200 degrees, and I wasn’t prepared to battle several flights of stairs in the intense heat. I just about melted on a few occasions, but there was enough available water to avoid any serious issues. Later that evening we sampled the wine which lived up to the hype-it was delicious. Overall, it was a fantastic weekend spent sightseeing and bonding with friends.