I have admittedly been putting off this blog since I got back to the States. While my time in Bosnia was a truly transformative experience, it was also very difficult. My schedule got pretty busy once I returned to Denver, and I haven’t done a great job of processing my experiences because I’ve had so many other things to focus on.
I didn’t really think about my experiences much in the first couple of weeks after getting back home. My partner and I didn’t talk about it at all; I didn’t really want to burden her any more than I already had. People would ask me about my summer and I would find ways to dodge the question. Not because I thought they “wouldn’t get it” or because I didn’t want to talk about it. I just didn’t know what to say. It’s not the kind of experience you can easily explain. And i would think about responding more positively and how that wouldn’t really capture my experience, but also not wanting to focus too much on the negative. Even thinking about how to talk about it was kind of a source of stress. The one time I went into detail about my experience was with my internship supervisor. He asked about “the work” so I was able to focus on my experiences at Wings of Hope.
I think about Bosnia more and more as time has gone on. I often think about the dark things, and I have had some dreams that suggest that these experiences are still firmly engrained in my subconscious. But I have thought about the good times as well, and have encouraged people to visit Bosnia and Herzegovina.
I continue to be fascinated by the engrained problems that exist in Bosnia and Herzegovina; I am doing an independent study exploring these issues with Ann this quarter and next. But I do often struggle with how to incorporate my experiences in Bosnia into my work around social justice issues in Denver. I work on issues that sometimes feel as intractable as those that exist in Bosnia, but ultimately the pathway toward justice and progress seems more attainable here. That is good in many ways, the least of which is that is is not nearly as hopeless and it is not as easy to get discouraged. At the same time, given the circumstances of my return to school, I have struggled with the idea that I may have invested all this money (and spent weeks away from my partner) for something that may not have helped my “professional development.” I know that I grew very much as an individual, and I would like to do work with an international or global perspective at some point, so I know that I will draw upon this experience in the future. But sometimes I still wonder what it all meant, and what exactly I will use from my experiences moving forward.
Ultimately I am very happy I spent the summer in Bosnia. It was a very difficult in many ways, but I had experiences I never could have had otherwise and I feel that it changed me as a person. I am just not sure exactly how, or how it will continue to impact me in the future, but I am glad it happened.