On my last day at Bosfam, many of the members told me that it would feel strange for them to spend their days in Bosfam’s Center in Tuzla without my regularly joining them for coffee. It will be strange for me too.
Although I sometimes grew frustrated with the amount of time I spent drinking coffee, in some ways, I see it as one of the most important components of my internship. Apart from learning how to make Turkish coffee Bosnian style (which makes me all the more eligible for one of the Bosnian men the women eyed for me) I developed an appreciation for the daily challenges Bosfam members face.
I have worked in post-conflict situations before, but this work was primarily administrative and involved little contact with beneficiaries. Because the Advocacy Project internship was with a local organization run by the very same people it aimed to assist, all of my work necessitated communication with beneficiaries. Close cooperation meant not only adapting my working style to jive with theirs, but also just spending time with the women as they discussed the fluctuating price of tomatoes and whether or not the municipality had paid the electric bill in their collective center. As my language skills improved, I was able to participate in these discussions, expressing indignation at the fact that electricity had been cut in the collective center, or comforting a woman who cried.
I am pleased with some of the concrete things I accomplished at Bosfam – helping to complete their new website, writing some project proposals, and compiling a product catalogue. However, when friends and family ask me about the internship, I will mention the coffee first.
Posted By Marta Schaaf
Posted Aug 18th, 2003