I spent this last summer in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, where I interned at the Post-Conflict Research Center (PCRC). The PCRC is an NGO that works to restore a culture of peace in Bosnia and the greater Balkans region by using an interdisciplinary approach that includes journalism, peace education, creative multimedia, and academic research. One of the things I’ve enjoyed the most about PCRC has been the freedom I’ve gotten to pursue projects I’m passionate about and the support they give to make those projects a success. For me, that’s been working on a research project with a professor from the Sarajevo School of Science and Technology investigating the key elements needed to comprise a successful intervention for intergroup reconciliation.
Throughout the summer, I had the opportunity to interview people from NGOs throughout the region that focus on intergroup reconciliation and peace education. It’s been incredibly gratifying and humbling to talk to civil society actors that work in this realm and learn about the impact their organizations have on their communities. I’ve truly appreciated their willingness to share both their successes and their obstacles, both professionally and on a more personal level with their experiences from the war. Even when discussing the most somber of topics, the people I met made a conscious effort to intersperse a feeling of hope and optimism for the future. These conversations are the ones I anticipate I'll cherish the most from my time spent in Bosnia, and that have helped inform everything from the way I conduct interviews as a journalist, to future research topics, to the power of optimism and persistence in light of adversity.
I do not exaggerate when I say that it has been a life-changing experience; I have made friends that will last a lifetime, and had experiences that have fundamentally shifted how I view myself and my role in my field, and in society in general.