Sarah Reichenbach

Sarah is a recent transplant from Colorado to Washington, DC. She is a graduate student at the George Washington University, working on her MA in International Affairs with an emphasis on Conflict Resolution. She received her BA in International Affairs at the University of Northern Colorado in 2014. In DC, she is a research assistant for the National Security Archive’s Genocide Documentation Project and gathers and analyzes declassified documentation on the Rwandan, Bosnian, and Sudanese genocides. She has also worked with the Education for Peace in Iraq Center to assist and advocate for IDPs throughout the recent Iraqi humanitarian crisis and with the Global Refugee Center of Greeley, CO to support their incoming refugee population. Sarah is thrilled to have the opportunity to put a human face on the documentation she has combed over the last several months and have the privilege of meeting the extraordinary survivors from the atrocities twenty years ago. After the fellowship, she wrote: "For me, the best experience was being able to forge strong relationships with the women of BOSFAM and developing a personal philosophy on conflict-sensitive development." Contact: sreichenbach@advocacynet.org



Pondering fear and failure in Munich

01 Jun

Layover in Munich

Coffee and letters from home.

This morning, as I sit in the Munich airport with my second cup of coffee, I wonder why I don’t feel more afraid. I am tired and would really like to brush my teeth, but I don’t feel afraid.

The past few months, I’ve been fluctuating between excited and terrified and sometimes denial that I was leaving my comfortable home behind for three months. As I left for my training in DC last week with a backpack so heavy it bruised my shoulders and a sizable sum of money generously given by people I desperately do not want to disappoint, I felt afraid.

Pre-departure

My husband, Ben, our pup, Juniper, and I before leaving for Bosnia.

Naturally, there was the fear of leaving my comfortable bed, my air-conditioned office, and, most difficult, my main support, my husband, behind. It is not that I am afraid of change itself; less than a year ago, we packed our belongings, cats and all, and moved across the country, away from our parents and the state I called home for over a decade to plunge into grad school and student loans and married life. That was exciting. I liked the change. What I am afraid of is the unknown: what will take the place of all these things that make my world feel like home?

For the next three months, Bosnia will be my home. The more I’ve told myself that over the course of the last week, the more it seemed to sink in and feel okay. I’ve been told that the women I will be working with are strong and loving. I am told that Bosnia has a beautiful landscape and amazing coffee. The opportunity this fellowship offers is something I have hoped and prayed for for a long time. So what is this nagging feeling that kept me awake at night after long days of training?

2015 Peace Fellow Sarah Reichenbach and AP's Katie Petitt after a successful training.

AP’s rockstar, Katie Petitt, and I after a successful training in Washington, DC.

It is the fear of failure. The stakes are high. I will be in Bosnia during the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre, where over 8,000 men and boys were slaughtered. I will be working with BOSFAM, where women who survived this atrocity gather to support one another emotionally and weave beautiful, intricate carpets to hopefully support themselves financially. I am told they are courageous and caring and, of course, still grieving. So where am I supposed to fit in?

I am honored to hear their stories and to work this summer to help them in every way I possibly can. They have been through more than I can even comprehend and in July, I will travel with them to Srebrenica to witness the burial of the newly identified bodies that families have been waiting to put to rest for two decades. I realize my fear now is that I could fail them in some way. But now I am in Munich. And in about twelve hours I will be in Tuzla, Bosnia, my new home, and it is time to be brave. I’ve turned to one of my lifelong comforts, J.K. Rowling, for inspiration:

“It is impossible to live without failing at something unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all—in which case you fail by default.”


With the support of my family, friends, and cohort of other Peace Fellows, and, most importantly, the strength of these women I am so in awe of without having even met them, I think I will be able to live a life that will somehow make a difference for women who, despite having lost everything, carry on.
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\u201cIt is impossible to live without failing at something unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all\u2014in which case you fail by default.\u201d<\/span><\/strong><\/blockquote>\nWith the support of my family, friends, and cohort of other Peace Fellows<\/a>, and, most importantly, the strength of these women I am so in awe of without having even met them, I think I will be able to live a life that will somehow make a difference for women who, despite having lost everything, carry on.\n<\/span>“,”class”:””}]}[/content-builder]

Posted By Sarah Reichenbach

Posted Jun 1st, 2015

2 Comments

  • Stephanie Lehman

    June 1, 2015

     

    Sarah,

    You’re an amazing person and what you’re choosing to do is so brave and I’m here rooting for you with everything I have. I can’t believe how amazing you are and I’m so proud to call you my friend. I love you.

    • Steph,

      My inspiration and courage come from my friends like you! Wish you could join me. The women here would love you.

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