Friday, March 5, 2010 On

Dear Friends-

That was an extremely cheesy blog title so please forgive me. An early March snowstorm here in Sarajevo is blanketing my creative spirit with that lulling sense of sleepiness and quietness. Overall, I have not felt too inspired to write anything on the blog (hence, not doing so for two weeks) but please give this update a chance to materialize. Wow, that was a pitiful introduction!

I can say that life has not been overly dramatic recently and maybe that is why I feel I have nothing to say. And in that vein, maybe this is why I need to write; to express the necessary normalicy of living with resolve and purpose in "foreign" places that can become so casually familiar. And so it is that I am getting used to life here in Sarajevo and I will say that it is a confetti mix of day to day happenings and a deeper realization of opportunity here. Let me explain...

As you know, I was working on one of Mozaik's projects regarding efforts to create an EthnoRestoraunt here in Sarajevo's historic center. I am in the middle of these efforts as I am developing plans for reconstruction of an Ottoman period house that will be the restaurants home. So, from conceptualization to diagrams to model-making, I am wearing the "hat" of architect and designer and...I freaking love it. I told my sister yesterday that it feels so good to be designing again; working with layers and layers of trace paper and letting the house come to life at my finger tips. Of course, I am not an architect, but the opportunity Mozaik has given me to bring this project forward into fund raising has given me the courage to be creative and expressive, digging into this awkwardly new design world. All in all, the project is going well and next week I will begin making a scaled model that will fully express the houses potential character.

Earlier I spoke of my life lacking drama so I would like to tell you about my recent trip to Srebrenica. Most people have heard of Srebrenica, even if they know nothing about Bosnia or the Balkans. Srebrenica is synonomous with genocide, war and failed international peace-keeping. Srebrenica was a tiny city kilometers from the Serbian border and home to about 6,000 people of which 70% were Bosniak/Muslim while a similiar Muslim majority was intact throughout the entire Srebrenica municiaplity with around 35,000 inhabitants. One of the most ravaged cities in the war, Srebrenica also realized unspeakable atrocities with the most notorious crime happening on July 11th, 1995 when thousands of men were systematically killed. An area called Potocari, pictured below, is final home to the 8,300 persons and counting murdered in Srebrenica during the war.

Today, Srebrenica is meagerly inhabited with Bosnian Serbs and Muslims trying to scrape together a meaningful life. I was in Srebrenica with my friend Selma, as her families guest and I was introduced to "life as normal" in post war Bosnia. A few quick observations:

I am sick of seeing bombed and burned out houses and buildings strewn about the beleagured landscape. Literally 60% of the buildings you see are not lived in and are either mere shells or charred and ruined. It's sort of like driving in a pristine natural area and then coming upon hundreds of acres of forest ravaged by wildfire. Each desolate house represents a family devastated.

Optimism is ruined hearing story after story of people, lovely people, unable to make significant steps in positive directions- economically, emotionally, relationally, educationally; To see them stuck.

My heart breaks to be around young adults my age who have lost fathers and brothers and uncles; having to live in refugee camps and locked in cells of depression and frustrating futures. To look them in the eye and remember every blessing I take foregranted. Talking to my friend Selma as we were driving and she was fighting back quiet tears in retelling the loss of her father; any attempts to comfort through words were hushed by the lyrics of a Fleet Foxes song playing on the stereo...
"There's nothing I can do
There's nothing I can do
There's nothing I can say
There's nothing I can say"

I guess Srebrenica is a kind of cruel drama we all wish would never happen.

As I look out of my apartment, as newly pictured to the right, I see freshly painted houses and a clean coating of sodium white snow. I guess life is as dramatic or as boring as we allow it to be. Soon I will step back into the confusing world outside this nucleus of comfort. I trust some of my expressed words touched home and made sense. Thanks for listening and richest greetings from Sarejevo.

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