Arriving on the East Coast at the end of May, I was excited to be embarking upon my journey for the summer. However, excited is a vast understatement. I am thrilled to be returning to the Balkans and yet I am anxious and nervous to see what this new opportunity will bring me in terms of education, emotions, and experience. As a student for the past 18 years, I now wrestle with the ever-approach reality of “growing up” and becoming an “adult” as I enter the last year of my graduate studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. This is my first practical step toward a meaningful and passionate career in conflict resolution and with the Balkans.
After having studied abroad in Croatia, Serbia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina in 2008 during my undergraduate career, I found myself drawn to this region both academically and personally. This summer brings an opportunity to work with remarkable women in Tuzla, Bosnia-Herzegovina at BOSFAM as they continue to strive to reconcile the horrors of the past and the trauma of the war in the 1990s with the present and the future. Many of these women lost brothers, fathers, sons, uncles, and many members of their families in the brutal massacre outside of Srebrenica. They weave carpets and make quilts in order to tell their stories and be heard. Dealing with the past is an issue many from war-torn countries face and struggle to overcome. It is difficult for me, as a student of conflict resolution, to try to put myself in these shoes and be empathetic to their past, however, it is a critical step to delving deeper into the lives of others.
The further and deeper I get into my studies, the more overwhelmed and interested I become. How can I be accepted when I come from such a different past and can be so easily seen as an outsider? How can I understand these women and what they have gone through? How can I even help? My questions continue to grow and multiply and my answers only lead to more and more questions. But yet, somehow, I am fine with this (thankfully so, since I have a feeling this will be the first of many times I wrangle with my questions and hesitations). I walk into my training and fellowship with an open and energetic mind, willing and accepting of the experiences and people that await me.
Posted By Quinn Van Valer-Campbell
Posted May 26th, 2011