social responsibility

It is difficult to put my time in Sarajevo into words. There has been so much life squeezed into such little time, yet that time has been filled with such powerful meaning. If I were to choose one thing to write about it would be the idea of self and social responsibility. This is something that I believe in but have not given much thought to outside of an academic viewpoint.  I arrived on this program in a whirlwind made up of finals and weddings, with no decompression time.  My internship quickly began, and through laughter, lots of smoke, and binders of PitchWise records it became more real. Although I admire the work the CURE Foundation does, I really admire the women that are making that work happen more. Life is hard and it is easy to be concered with ourselves; and unfortantaely this attitude gets excused far too often. The women in my internship truly have a sense of themselves and a  strong desire to uphold their social responsibility through advocating for women’s and girl’s rights. This comes to fruition in a variety of programs which are all designed to create a society that values gender equality. Now, I dont mean to convey that we all abandon our paths and become feminist or ngo employees but what I do want to communicate is the all too scary truth that we each have a social responsibility. This idea was evidently incontestable during the two weeks spent in Srebrenica- the site of the horrfic genocide on July 11, 1995. Through stories told by survivors  it is evident that there were so many individuals who were giving so much of themselves to fulfill a social responsibility. And yet, those hopeful stories are accompaniyed by horrific examples of what I would define as a lack of social responsibility. This for me is the only way to explain the events that took place. Individuals valued themselves and their lives over a greater social responsibility in a scrammble for power and control. What about humanity and the human condition allows individuals to act outside of a code that benefits all? How is it that one is able to dehumanize, even at the smallest level? Are each of us aware of ways in which we are guilty of this? Are we making strides in our personal daily lives, or in our work, to correct the desensatization  of society that life is me, me, me and do something that contributes to change in the world as a whole? I can say that the women I have been fortunate enough to work with this summer and those who are contributing to programs such as Summer University Srebrenica are making a positive change while simultaneously living an example of what it means to have a code of social responsibility.  What I want to take away from this summer in Bosnia and Herzegovina  is not my photos or traditional coffee sets, although I’ll value those. What I want to carry is the truth that individuals can make change. CLR James speaks of ‘the sordid compromises of everyday existence;’ it is my hope that after this experience none of us allow our social responsibility to be compromised by the demands of life. Each of us makes choices in our daily lives that effect the well being of others. If we in our communities do what we can to create a better enviroment for everyone, regardless of differences;  I truly believe that we can create a better world.

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(disclaimer, this was written two weeks ago)

This weekend was Sarajevo squeezed into 36 hours.  I hope the New York Times reads this blog and asks me to create an article for their 36 hour city series. Esmir, the driver, was meant to pick me up at Hotel Europe at 12:45pm. Emily and Karey described him to me as a young man driving a vw wagon. As I approached the hotel, a few minutes late of course, a young taxi driver nodded at me from across the street as he offered me a ride. I declined. I searched everywhere for Esmir and his car, nothing. Finally, I remembered that Emily had given me Esmir’s number. As I call, the man across the street picks up his phone…yep, that is right. Esmir was on time and had tried to get my attention. This is the moment that happens at least once a day in my life where I swallow my pride. I walked across the street and apoligized to Esmir, who doesn’t speak English, for being  dismissive. By the time I arrived, Zach was waiting outside. We expected to wait about an hour or so for our sister, Kelsey, who was to arrive shortly after him. Her flight was delayed, but this being Sarajevo Jadranka was there. She gracefully shared her waiting space and conversation with us. Finallllllly Kelsey arrived and our adventure could begin! Once checked into Hotel Kovači our first stop was Houssen’s for tea. We sipped on salep, a beautiful gift from the Ottoman’s as we planned their time in the city. First on the list was copper alley.  I may or may not have demanded this be the way it all began. We admired the sebji, pigeons and tourists, as we walked in the hot sun. We mayed through the alley as I described the skill of the hand carvings to my jetlaged siblings who politely nodded. I was obviously thrilled to have vistors, whether they were mentally present or not! Rescidence Rooms was our next stop, and luckily for us a few volunteers showed us the best pita shop in town! We sat down to enjoy three large servings of  burek, zeljanica, and krompiruša each with two LARGE scoops of cream. It’s not a true city tour without a stop at the chess park. There we were finding ourselves choosing sides and discussing the dialogue of the two divided teams. The night then naturally brought us to the Goldfish, an establishment we all love. Yet, it just so happens the atracttion of the Goldfish that we all have does not soely exists within our group. My brother quickly confessed his pleasure and sense of intrigue with the place. On the way back to Hotel Kavaci we climbed the hill and spent time observing the many graves around us. But we could not end the night on such a somber note so we made our way to the  sebji where we watched tourists and locals alike beginning or ending their Sarajevo stroll. After a few loops of the same wanderers, we ended our night with a short stroll to hotel kavaci. When I wrote the 36 hours it became evident that I will never be a novelist, I could not write to completion of 36 hours in the city and will never have a contract with NYTs. However, It was truly incredible to share the city with two of my siblings and be able to create lasting memories with them in a city that quickly became near to my heart. I will carry those with me always.

 

okay, weird. I have been doing a tango with this blog site for the past hour and a half. I had resorted to using my phone although Emily, our gracious coordinator let me borrow her computer. Yet, me being so dang technologically challenged could not successfully log in…its  not even a Monday. After some deep yoga breathing and way to many attempts to copy and paste on my phone I am back and this time the computer and I came to an agreement! Please keep in mind that I am 27 and had to watch the ‘how to post a blog for dummies’ video to make this happen. 

Travel, for me, is incredibly eye-opening and beautiful. I am reminded of this each time I set out. While I continually try to open my heart to the world around me in the States, sometimes things get bogged down with obligations, deadlines and little time to just be. I am so thankful to Bosnia and this group for allowing me the opportunity to remember and live the beauty of life.  The most magical part of movement is the realization that life is the same around the world. People laugh. People cry. People go grocery shopping and hurry to rush home for dinner with their family. People question where they are and their life in that place as well as wonder about life outside of their home. Yet, within all this there are small differences that make life in those new places so intriguing and addicting. It makes me want to go more and more to see what can I take with me and what has already been traveling with me all along. The kindness of strangers keep smiles near and hearts open, and it is that openness that I believe the world needs so desperately. Bosnia has reminded and reassured me that communication across cultures is more than differences, it is about highlighting the underlying themes in humanity and seeing the beauty of a world that is connected.