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Bosnia

Last Saturday, I pumped enough bagels and hazelnut coffee into my system that I’m pretty sure a bagels-and-coffee IV could’ve achieved the same results.

Why, you ask?  Well… I guess I was hungry?

Actually, I was a student helper at the Bosnian-Herzegovinian Academy of Arts and Sciences Annual Meeting held at Fontbonne.  The welcome table I was working at was parked right across from a spread of Panera breakfast items for conference goers.  And since I was there from 8 to 5, those bagels looked awfully good throughout the day…  I mean, really, would YOU pass up a chocolate chip bagel? (…or three?)

Besides the food, there were other factors that made the conference very enjoyable for me.  It was so neat to be involved and to meet all the people there!

More people than anticipated attended, which was GREAT!  As the attendees arrived, we realized there wouldn’t be enough seating in the main presentation room, so we had to push back the collapsible wall between the room and the adjoining one, and move in more tables to fit forty more people!  All kinds of professionals came to the meeting - doctors, attorneys, performers like Balkan singer Mary Sherhart, and many others.  The day included presentations, including one by Aleksandar Hemon, author of the book “Love and Obstacles,” a collection of stories about life in Sarajevo and Chicago (which I had signed!), as well as a quick walk over to the Fontbonne art gallery to see artist Jesenko Kurbasic’s exhibit “Free Fallin’” and a trip to the University Library to view the PBS documentary “I Came To Testify.”

Although the subject matter of the conference was sometimes very grave, I was glad I was able to be there to hold down the fort (and make sure the coffee spills got cleaned up).  As for my bagel IV, I’m just lucky that the conference is an annual event, and that I happen to have a fast metabolism.

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I’m working on a pretty interesting project for my Bosnian Immigration Experience class, and I’d like to tell you about it.

So, I’m taking this class for Honors credit, and its subject matter really interests me. We’re learning about the causes and the aftermath of the conflict in the Balkans in the 1990s, which is referred to by a lot of different names, depending on what side of the story you sympathize with. The teachers of the course tend to use “the Bosnian Genocide” because it was definitely ethnic cleansing (the U.N. has a pretty strict definition of genocide, though, and using the term comes with some serious consequences if you’re a nation, and if you take the class, you’ll learn about how all this relates to the conflict!)

Anywho, part of our final grade is a project. Most students write a paper for this, and I was trying to find a good point to argue for the paper when one day, I received an email from my professor. He said there was a project I might want to work on, instead of writing a paper. Now, although I really like writing, I was not terribly excited about writing a fifteen-page paper for my final project. So, I decided to work on the other project.

Well, what is this project? you might ask. It’s kind of a complicated explanation:  see, the Bosnian Immigration Experience class spawned “The Bosnian Memory Project,” which is sort of an organization that created a museum exhibit that shows the roots of the Balkan conflict, the atrocities that occurred during the conflict, and what happened to the people involved afterward.  Some of the  information used in the exhibit, such as personal accounts, came from interviews with Bosnian survivors of the genocide, which were conducted and archived by students in the class I’m taking. The Project has a website, http://www.fontbonne.edu/bosnia and my task is to listen to the audio parts of the interviews, sift through and find the really important segments, and then put them on the various pages of the website.

I’m going to listen to over 20 hours of audio, and then condense each interview, which is about an hour, into a five minute clip.

It’s going to be a difficult project, especially because the subject matter is so grave. The end result will be a better-than-ever website and will help people get a real feel for the events that took place during the Bosnian Genocide, straight from the people who lived it. I’d say that’s definitely worthwhile.

Oh, and happy Pi Day!

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