MacKenzie Frady Arbogust (Bosnia & Herzegovina)

MacKenzie Frady (BOSFAM, Bosnia): MacKenzie graduated in 1999 from the College of William and Mary with a BS in Psychology. She worked in the Northern Virginia area for five years as a financial analyst before returning to graduate school. At the time of her fellowship, MacKenzie was pursuing a Master's Degree in business from Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business in Washington DC where she was also active in student government and other interest clubs. In addition to school activities, she tutored adults in Fairfax County.

First Impressions…

02 Jun

After a long journey here and some confusion as to my arrival, I have finally made it to Bosfam. To be cliché, the country is both exactly what I expected it would be like and nothing like I thought it would be…

Shortly after crossing the border into Bosnia, I saw fields marked with the red skull and crossbones signs indicating active mine fields. My guide book strongly suggests staying away from fields that look as if they may not have been touched for 10 years as they may also be mined. Although I have nothing to worry about here in Tuzla, it’s a shocking reminder of the war and how far this country still has to go on the road to recovery.

I can hear the Muslim call to prayer multiple times a day, but see very few women wearing traditional Muslim clothing, or even head scarves. The square near the office has an obviously Muslim influenced arch in it, but I haven’t found the mosque yet in my regular wandering around town.

Since I cannot speak the language, I rely on a lot of sign language when Beba is not around to translate for me. I am overwhelmed by the stories of these women and what they faced in the war. Some of these women are my age and are now widows raising their children alone. Others are older but are left without their sons and husbands and even their homes. It boggles my mind to think that this country was torn apart by war, no running water or electricity just 10 years ago with snipers posted around. I was 18 then, and I cant fathom how life would be if I had been born a Serb or Muslim in Bosnia rather than a US citizen.

Despite the troubles, pain and loss these women and this country have faced, everyone is so friendly. I have learned a few phrases, and the women are delighted when I try to speak to them. Even in the market, I am able to get by with pointing and smiling. The pace of life here is much more relaxed and slower than in the US. There is always time for coffee and a chat with friends and family. There is always snack or a cigarette offered to the guest, regardless of the economic state of the host.

Posted By MacKenzie Frady Arbogust (Bosnia & Herzegovina)

Posted Jun 2nd, 2005

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