Pia Schneider (Bosnia & Herzegovina)

Pia Schneider (BOSFAM); Pia is a joint Swiss and US national. She graduated from Tufts University in 1994 with a B.A. in International Relations. After a trip around the world, she then worked for three years as a Financial Analyst for Baita International LLC, a real estate company, in Atlanta, Georgia. Pia then took a year to study French at the Sorbonne in Paris. Deciding to remain in Europe, she then took a job with Andersen in Switzerland as a Consultant in the Corporate Finance Division. After three years with Andersen, she decided to pursue a Master’s Degree at Georgetown University, and graduated in May 2004 with an MBA.

It’s all about the coffee

20 Oct

I am starting to feel really comfortable at Bosfam. Although I still can’t say much more in Bosnian than the week before, I feel part of the team and understand the daily routine. It is during this second week that I hope to finalize the outline of what is to be my work here in Bosnia. Iain (Director of the Advocacy Project) has arrived and together we will brainstorm with Beba to come up with the best possible strategy.

But first I must elaborate on the daily coffee breaks. As I had mentioned earlier, they are a part of Bosnian tradition and serve as a forum for the women of Bosfam. For many, coming to Bosfam during coffee time presents them with an opportunity to get support from others in similar situations. It’s almost like seeing a therapist for many of them – it allows them to vent their frustrations and have other women analyze their situations from a third person perspective.

But it wasn’t until last Friday that I discovered yet another purpose of these coffee breaks. I had noticed that, after finishing all but the last couple of sips, the women would turn over their cups and let the rest flow onto the little plate. Then they would hand the empty cup to one of the women who would stare at it intently. Upon further investigation, I learned that she was telling them their futures! Of course I couldn’t let that pass without participating and have now a whole exciting future of my own to look forward to. Let’s just hope some of it comes true…

Bosnians really are special people. They are friendly, warm and very open. Many at first are shy when introduced to me but within a short time they are hugging me, talking at me (and I say “at me” because I don’t really understand them) and welcoming me into their world with big smiles. Many have experienced horrors I will never know about personally but you would hardly know it from their positive outlooks on life. Many of us could learn from these women, their strength and their perseverance – I for one have already taken away so much from them in just 8 days.

Posted By Pia Schneider (Bosnia & Herzegovina)

Posted Oct 20th, 2006

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