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.

Wearing many hats Tuzla

24 Jun

Ja sam bila u bosni jedan mijesic. I have been in Bosnia for a month. It’s funny how quickly one feels at home. I have my routine now; I get up each morning at 7.30 and go to work, every day from Monday to Saturday. In between, I find time to meet new people, hang out with those I have gotten to know better and of course, make the time to watch the Euro Cup 2004. But is it really routine?

I am realizing daily that in this line of work, one wears many different hats. Far from being “just” the business and marketing consultant that I came here as, I have acted in many different positions in my four weeks here. In the first few days, I was merely the observer, learning about the culture and Bosfam as an organization.

Then I was prompted to become a sales representative while spending some time at the Bosfam shop on Eagle Base, the mostly American SFOR base outside of Tuzla. I had no previous retail experience, but in this case, my American passport was sufficient to qualify me for this position. Maybe the fact that I am American will be more convincing as a sales pitch?

In the second week, when Iain Guest (Director of AP) was here, I took turns being an investigator and researcher, gathering information and interviewing individuals in an effort to fully understand the current situation in Bosnia, Srebrenica, and at Bosfam. Last week I alternatingly posed as a fashion photographer, taking pictures of the many models that came to Bosfam preparing for the upcoming fashion show and as a marketing coordinator and chief of design, organizing Bosfam’s selection of products to update their website and catalogue.

While each of these activities is worthwhile and will hopefully help Bosfam grow into a self-sustaining organization in the mid- to long-term, I believe that my most important role is that of listener and advocate. Many women feel the need to share their trauma, to believe that the world has not forgotten them and moved on despite their still dire need. It’s not that they are expecting me directly to change their lives.

But they want me to share their stories, share the history of this place and make sure that I pass on their message to the world – what happened in Srebrenica and Bosnia has destroyed so many lives, not just of those that have been killed, but also of the ones left behind that often don’t have the means to pick up the pieces. We shouldn’t forget nor should we dwell on the past, but we must continue to work in our capacity as partner to Bosfam, to help these women rebuild their lives to some degree and to enable them to continue having a place such as this where they can go for mutual support.

Posted By Pia Schneider (Bosnia & Herzegovina)

Posted Jun 24th, 2004

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