Remembering the Lives Lost in 1992 War
On July 19th, American and Bosnian youth leaders met on the Sanski Most Bridge along with hundreds of members of the Sanski Most community. Trucks and vans filled with coffins were transporting bodies from an uncovered mass grave to another city, Prijedor.
The GK Leaders from New York were emotionally affected by this atrocity as their Bosnian peers. We collectively grieved and processed the devasation of lost lives. We also spoke on the importance of love and how that will triumph over hate and evil in this world.
Here are some words from Global Kids Leader Samson Balogun:*
When you think of the cruel harsh things that people do you lose hope and you wonder why these things happen and you also lose faith. Your body may shut down and you may have mental and physical break downs. You start to question your faith and ask yourself is what I believe right; is this what I’m supposed to keep believing in? You start to question yourself but everything happens for a reason and for each situation it should strengthen your faith, your hope and keep all your beliefs and motivate you to keep on going and to fight for those who can no longer fight. Bosnia, we sympathize and empathize with your loss. We will never forgot what we witnessed today.
*Samson Balogun is an African/American and both of his parents come from the beautiful country Nigeria. He loves his Nigerian culture and wouldn’t change a thing about the music, the food, and especially the clothing. He attends Curtis High schools and is in the AVID and Computer Business program. Samson’s family pushes him to his limites and is his biggest supporters. He is the youngest of four children in his family. He loves playing basketball and his brother Michael inspires him to be the best basketball player that he can be. His is supported by his other siblings as well and his parents. When Samson grows up, he wants to become a computer analyst/professional basketball player. He wants to attend Syracuse University or Texas State.
Building Trust and Showcasing Talent
Reflection by Global Kids Leader Kazi Ateea*
July 17th was an eventful day. The day started with a series of trust building exercises in the park. Each team leader was entrusted to guide their blind folded group through a series of different obstacles. The six groups encountered five different obstacle courses that had to be completed in a specific time period. After every group had gone, we all returned to the Stari Hotel to continue on with our media group projects to be presented at the US Embassy on July 22nd.The six different media groups are focusing on a range of issues from body image to world hunger to racism to ethnic and religious conflict to child abuse and human trafficking (Check back later for links to our final presentations).
We continued to progress with an energizer called “Baby, I Love You” where you had to walk up to a peer and say “Baby, I love you, won’t you please smile for me today?” The peer had to reply without smiling, “Baby, I love you too, but I won’t smile for you today.” If they smiled, they had to repeat the saying to someone else in the circle. This icebreaker/energizer was definitely a hit and humorous.
After being done for the day on working on our media projects, many of us went into the CIM/Center for Peacebuilding office to practice our acts for the talent show later that evening.
Later that night we held the talent show at Club Palazzo and it was a success. Many members of our group participated multiple times. I even sang in the talent show with a group and it was an amazing experience. The first song performed that night was “Stay” by Rihanna sung by Lejla and Jasmina who want the Americans to stay. Aren’t they the sweetest?
We want to stay, too!
*Kazi Ateea is 15 years old at the High School for Medical Professions. She was born and raised in Brooklyn to a Bangladeshi family in a primarily Jewish neighborhood. She is able to speak English and Bengali and is developing her skills in Arabic and Spanish. She has been active in Global Kids for two years, participating in many of their programs, as well as facilitating workshops. Aside from GK, Kazi is active in her school’s Robotics Club, Student Council and attends programs by the Muslim Ummah of North America (MUNA). Issues that Kazi takes very seriously are the violation of human rights as well as poverty. In the future, Kazi would like to beome a doctor and work for Health Right International in order to help those living in poverty and poo
Visit to Banja Luka
Reflection by Luis J. Fernandez*
My experience in Banja Luka was very interesting. Banja Luka is the second largest city in Bosnia and Herzegovina after the capital Sarajevo and is the largest city of Republika Srpska (the Bosnian Serb Republic) entity. Banja Luka has a deep meaning in Bosnian history. The many buildings that were built there were mainly from the Ottoman Empire.
As we went there we visited the city and that was great but I could have gone without the amazingly hot weather. In the city I visited many stores and saw a McDonald’s which is an example of globalization. I learned that here in Bosnia it is more expensive to buy junk food than it is to buy healthy food which would be great for America too. We also learned about Banja Luka’s version of Romeo and Juliet and visited the site of Safikada’s tomb where people go to light candles in order to celebrate their love. Read here to learn more about Safikada’s story.
Even before I went on the trip to Banja Luka, I went with my host family to see a giant waterfall, which was beautiful. That was one experience I will never forget. I took many pictures of the many places I have been to here in Sanski Most and it has been a lot of fun. I have also gone to visit the U.S Embassy and spoke with US Foreign Service officers there and a Bosnian press officer, which was really interesting. I have learned that it is not easy being involved in politics as it requires hard work and dedication. I have met so many people here and this is such a great place to be in as I can finally relax and get used to the quiet life. Although I do miss home, I wish I could stay here forever.
*Luis Fernandez attends Long Island City High School. He entered LIC though its Culinary Arts Program and enjoys cooking and eating the dishes he creates. He also likes playing video games and reading books. He is also very athletic and enjoys playing various types of sports. Luis has been with Global Kids for more than two years. As a GK Leader, he is more aware of what’s happening around the world and is involved in Greening Western Queens, where he, alongside his peers, campaigned to have green roofs on top of schools all over New York City. As a Global Kids leader, Luis is learning a lot about many political and environmental issues and believes that youth should use their knowledge and willpower to make a difference in the world.
Volim Bosnu! // I Love Bosnia!
*Reflection by Global Kids Leader Leslie Cano
This is the first weekend (July 12-13th) with my host family. It’s been five days since I met them and I am already calling my host mother “mom”. I have a 15 year old sister named Ema and a 9 year old sister named Ena. I am lucky because they have gone to the USA before for a total of 4 years in Tennessee, so they can speak English. Our mom sometimes has trouble speaking English, so Ema is always translating for us. Our dad often works so we normally see him for a while during breakfast and since it’s been raining these past few days, he picks us up at night, if we go out.
Today, July 12th, was family day so we all went out including GK Leader Francine Burns and Bosnian youth leader Uma. Our dad took us to a hidden waterfall. The path was downhill and since it recently rained, some areas were muddy. It was a challenge and Christina fell down at one point but the view was worth it. The waterfall was high and once we got there, we took off our shoes and put ONLY OUR FEET in the cold water. I think our exercise of the day was the walk back to the car. See, the walk to the waterfall was completely downhill and the pathway was steep so on the way back we were going uphill nonstop on the steep pathway. It was a nice workout.
After the waterfall, we came back home and rested for a while. Then was the part I was waiting for… The Motorcycle Show! Every year people from different places gather in Sanski Most to ride their motorcycles together around town. So we went to the city and waited for the motorcycles to come. We heard the engines running as the motorcycles all came together! Some were doing tricks, while others had their partners on their backs. Then I saw my dad with my mom pass by in their motorcycle and I yell out “THAT’S MY MOM!” It was a fun experience and to end the day we went to the motorcycle party, listened to some rock music and went home.
It has only been one day of our weekend together and I have to say, I love my host family. They greeted me with open arms and we have gotten so close. I am loving being in BOSNIA!
You can’t see the entire world looking out of one window.
By Global Kids Leader Rubdul Bah.
In a workshop about Stereotypes led by the CIM (Center for Peacebuilding) on July 11th, students discussed assumptions made about different groups of people such as Americans, African-Americans, New Yorkers, Muslims, Serbs, Bosnians, men and women. The participants learned a lot as well as the role of the media in perpetuating negative messages about different groups of people. The above quote emphasizes the importance of getting multiple perspectives on others before coming to an uninformed conclusion.