A Notable Day For Bosnia

I’ve taught in a couple different countries, but my longest time teaching and many of my best experiences were in Bosnia, such as my little old landlady, my long-time businessman student and the student who brought me a red rose on the first anniversary of September 11. There are also other, smaller stories which I’ve just shared in posts with other topics. Sarajevo is the place in Europe in which I feel the most at home.

Today is a significant day in Bosnia: it’s 12 years from the day when the UN-declared “safe area” of Srebrenica in Eastern Bosnia was overrun by Bosnian Serb forces, and over 8000 Muslim boys and men were killed, essentially without any UN or international community intervention. This is hard to believe, but easy to confirm with a simple Google search.

Any loss of life is terrible; one this large is of course hard to even think about. It saddens me not only that it happened, but the context in which it happened, and the fact that I think people don’t really know about it. I think that people should know about it.

It certainly crossed my mind that the mostly light-hearted TEFL Logue might not be an appropriate context to share this. It also occurs to me that it is not necessarily to the benefit of Bosnia and other countries in ex-Yugoslavia to continually be associated with nationalistic politics and genocide. I still made the decision to post this and hope my other posts on my positive experiences in Bosnia serve to balance somewhat the picture I provide.

I feel strongly that being an English teacher in Bosnia, as opposed to working in politics or aid as many foreigners in Bosnia do, allowed me to meet normal Bosnians in a non-political context, and interact with them as people more or less independently of their country’s recent history. And I think this is a benefit of being an English teacher nearly anywhere. My impression of Bosnians of all nationalities, based on the hundreds I have met through TEFL, is that in addition to being kind, warm and having a great collective sense of humor, most people want very much to move forward, and continue to do so. I don’t think that is incompatible with remembering the past.