If this summer had a theme, it’s “things are never what you expect” or perhaps more appropriately, “don’t expect”.
The memories from the summer often don’t feel real. I experienced so much. It seems like I’m reeling in my own feelings and trying to process all that I did saw ate touched and smelled. The daily churn of living in a city as magnificent as Sarajevo, combined with the trials and tribulations of hostel life, thriving in an incredible internship, and all the while trying to stop my brain from being Rose and focusing on the impending school year, seem to culminate in an unfamiliar numbness. Did that really just happen?
Living in Sarajevo was so much more than I could’ve anticipated. I miss the sounds of call to prayer; the endless liters of wine consumed, the bread, the buildings, shit sometimes I even miss the smell of a freshly lit cigarette with morning kafa.
Dobre. It was so good. The cobble stone streets flooded with the freshest of spring waters and the potpourri of people.
Sarajevo has so much to offer, and coming back to the world of Starbucks, grad classes, SUVs and IPADS galore, I’ve come to the rapid conclusion that I need to offer something back. Whether it’s an academic, creative, spiritual or god knows what, what has stuck is this inherent need to acknowledge the world beyond the bubble. Growing up in my family, I was perpetually exposed to new cultures and styles of living through my dad’s work. As an adult I have made a point to travel- from Prague to South Korea and now the Balkans. I have seen poverty and disease and death, but nothing, never like this. It hit like a freight train, and I’ll yield the scars (and new tattoo) for the rest of my life.
I have had several very personal conversations since being home about what Bosnia was like for me. Returning home has not been easy, in fact it’s been the opposite. Even my own parents are slightly stooped to hear of my difficulties. It was hard. Simplest way to put it. I don’t want to paint of picture of horror when I talk about Bosnia in casual conversations now, but to an extent it’s required. The beauty of this region that I was able to witness and share through my photos is of a world that is very real. I hope that through these images, and through the narratives of the people who participated in this program, that the world will acknowledge the realities of Bosnia. What’s also required is that programs like GPB continue to show students a side of the world that is often forgotten. I am so grateful that I got to participate in this program, and in every sense it has changed me.