When I came to Sarajevo, our first English class focused on The Dangers of a Single Story, and I realized that the media only focused on certain aspects when covering Bosnia. Bosnia, like many countries, is only told as a single story. A whole country known only for the war, the strife, the suffering and sure, the war has defined the daily lives of the people here dramatically and remnants of what happened can be seen everywhere you look. Bullet holes in city buildings and grenade blasts filled with red paint on the sidewalks are stark reminders of the atrocities that occurred and I thoroughly believe that the stories of war are essential to learning from the mistakes of the past and we need to remember all of the things that happened during war. So far in Bosnia I have visited tunnels, graves, “safe-zones”, galleries and memorials and spoken to reconciliation workers, bus drivers, photographers, Imams, witnesses, partakers, mothers, sons, film directors, artists and people from both sides of the conflict. Although the matter at hand is indubitably complicated, after hearing their stories I gained the same simple message every. single. time:
“There are no winners in war.”
But there is more to Bosnia and Herzegovina than the war. Above is an image of the mass cemetery for the >8000 Bosniak Muslim men and boys killed in the Srebrenica Genocide by Serb forces. In Srebrenica we spoke with the Imam of the Mosque in Srebrenica and more than a story of despair I heard a story of hope. He told us that just the other day he was part of a friendly tennis tournament amongst Bosniaks and Serbs alike. Adnan, our Student Life Coordinator from Bosnia who was in 5th grade during the conflict, he told us his harrowing experience but he also told us of Srdjan Aleksic, a heroic Serb in the village of Trebinje who was killed saving his Bosniak friend from Serb forces. These stories remind us that there is still hope for reconciliation in Bosnia and that maybe the media shouldn’t just focus on the bombings, shootings and massacres but the everyday acts of kindness and heroism that restore our faith in humanity.