Journal #2: Free Write
For this week’s topic, it was free choice, so I decided to write about the hospitality I have encountered during my short time here in Bosnia-Herzegovina. No matter where you go in Bosnia, you will be treated to coffee (Kavah/Kafa) or tea (chai), often accompanied by cookies or chocolates. My favorite tea so far is called grandmother’s soul. If i’m not mistaken I think it’s a version of Thyme tea. It’s magical and comforting, whatever it is. All of the chocolates are my favorite.
At my internship, we start the day with tea and coffee, and take breaks to socialize and share a meal with each other. Everyone brings something, and somehow it ends up being enough for everyone at the office. I have really come to appreciate this time of socializing and sharing with my coworkers. It reminds me of the magic wardrobe in the hostel- there is always something for someone in need.
Another instance of sharing and hospitality I encountered this week is when the group (who did not participate in this years Peace March), drove down to Srebrenica (more on that next week) to meet up with the Peace marchers and commemorate the lives lost in the genocide in July 1995. At Annessa’s Guest House (where we stayed), we were greeted by the most gracious family. They had essentially turned their house into a hostel, and hosted people from all over the world. Their house was especially busy during the Srebrenica memorial time (the weekend we were there). Anyways, what I wanted to talk about in this blog is the dinner table. After a day of traveling from Sarajevo we put our belongings down in our room and moseyed along to the dinner table in Annessa’s living room/kitchen. It was a spread… pasta, chicken, fresh tomatoes, a delicious veggie soup, fresh bread and pita. You name it and it was there. So we stuff our faces with the wonderful meal, the Peace Marchers stuff their faces… some of Anne’s friends show up (notably Hasan Hasanović, friend and supporter of the DU program), show up… and there is still enough food for everyone. It was mind blowing. Did I mention how delicious the food was? It was really nice to gather around the table and simply have a conversation with people (without people checking their phones every 5 seconds…wow, I sound like i’m 90 years old) and hearing about their connections to Bosnia and what the Peace March and this time means to them. I enjoyed listening to the different languages and accents flowing around the table. I felt like I was at my grandparents house in TN, but instead I was world’s away at a guesthouse in Bosnia. It’s a weird feeling to explain because I was only there for 2 days, but I definitely learned from my time at Annessa’s. Maybe because it reminded me of my grandparents house. How they always make sure that everyone has something to eat. The Southern hospitality. How the mother worked and prepped all day to create a meal for us. She also made breakfast for us the next day, before we left to observe the burial at the cemetery. I wish people in the States would share more. Share their time, energy, and meals with other people. I’m not talking communism (we know how that ended) but just recognizing the humanity we all share.
Thanks for reading through the rambles.
My first impression of Bosnia-Herzegovina was, “Where will I find a jacket for this never ending rain?”. After several attempts moonlighting as a old Hollywood actress with my pashmina draped over my head, I finally broke down and bought a cardigan that I could use as a jacket. The moral of that tale is that I did not expect the rain, much as I did not expect the different architecture styles here. It was interesting walking around with our guide and seeing the Ottoman style buildings and Austro-Hungarian buildings co-exist in the old city. It’s interesting to see the city slowly rebuilding after the war, with scars and all. It was exciting to ride in the cable cars, that just recently reopened after being destroyed by the war. The city is slowly putting itself back together after a devastating war and countless suffering. It’s interesting to see the graffiti on the buildings and remnants from the Olympic games, from the eternal flame that I pass everyday on my walk to my internship, to the bobsled run… that was used as a “sniper’s nest” during the war. Also, we visited the Sarajevo History Museum, and toured the collection of artifacts donated and collected from members of the community who lived through the siege during the war.
When I went to my internship at the CURE Foundation and was greeted by Vedrana, I was immediately put at ease with her easy going nature. We had a tea called Grandmother’s Soul, that I really enjoyed, and finally tracked down at the grocery store. The smell is really calming and relaxing. Ann was saying how the tea always reminds her of Bosnia. The work I will be completing at my internship is similar to my past work with the Talitha Project in Tonga, so I’m excited to see how all of that comes together. I am excited to learn more about what feminism looks like in a post-conflict society such as Bosnia-Herzegovina. The CURE foundation serves as an outlet for the promotion of human rights and feminism throughout the country. The foundation organizes multiple festivals and outreach events throughout the year, and I am thankful that I’m able to work on their largest event- PitchWise. PitchWise is an annual festival which celebrates women’s art and activism here in Bosnia-Herzegovina. During my time at the organization, I have spent my time editing grant proposals and educational materials. The most important thing I have been trying to do is form relationships with my coworkers and supervisors. I like how we start the day with tea and coffee time, and take a break for lunch to share food and talk about our day so far. I’m enjoying my internships focus on community, and how the organization steps in and helps people who are marginalized in society.
It’s interesting to see the old contrasting with the new here in Sarajevo, from the new hotels and malls, to the old city with the coppersmiths who have been in business for over 400 years. From the “Sarajevo roses”, some that are original and others that were newly reconstructed after the war to the cable cars, things are slowly rebuilding here and taking shape once more. It was interesting seeing how the Ottoman bath was turned into a marketplace that is used today.
A final takeaway for this rambling blog, is that I really appreciate the cafe culture here in Bosnia-Herzegovina. I love that you can spend the day in a coffee shop or cafe engrossed in a book or hanging out with your friends, without any pressure to leave. We visited a tea shop run by a kind old man who looks like a magician and he was so friendly and knowledgeable about his tea products and I can’t wait to go back to see what magic his tea shop holds.
Well, you made it this far through the rambles.