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BiH Youth Leadership Spring 2014: The Second Week

Posted by Ellen Frierson at May 05, 2014 10:50 AM |
More blog posts from amazing young leaders who are learning new things every day.

It's hard to believe that the Spring 2014 Youth Leadership Program with Bosnia and Herzegovina has been with us in Seattle for over two weeks now! Take a look at these blogs by Rastko, Iva, Amin, Amina, and Mateo to learn about what the group has been doing and what these young leaders think about their experience so far.

RastkoSerendipity - by Rastko Golub

Have you ever found something good without looking for it?

It's our second week here in Seattle, Washington. Our wishes came true. We worked a lot and now we are finally here, in the land of hope and dreams. But is it unbelievable how we are still indifferent to the fact that we got this far?

We live in this unreal world for us, full of new cultures, customs and new people. Everything is strange and unusual, but we have managed to assimilate and blend in perfectly. We as a group of young people and volunteers became a team of leaders, a team of new ideas and goals, a team that will bring prosperity and change in our community. It is surprising how we all made such strong bonds and friendships. Even though we are all different individuals from different nations and religions, we got rid of prejudice and became true ambassadors of our country, and we became a small family.

We did a lot of things during these few days in Seattle. We have volunteered in a local food bank, done community work at the farm and we practiced networking. But we also learned more about the American culture, their educational system, their people and met a lot of our peers here. Seattle is breathtaking. It is full of diversity, industrially developed, full of spirit that spreads around wonderful nature and urban architecture. We visited a lot of worldknown museums and landmarks, but today we saw a different part of the grunge Seattle. The Bainbridge Island we went to showed us the past of this area, and also the history of Japanese and Native Americans.

Beside this we also had a lot of fun, and this is a once in a life time journey. An opportunity to grow and develop as a young leader. To challenge yourself. To travel and to learn about others. A unique experience that we will be aware of only when we return home and look back on our accomplishments.


IvaThis Is Me - by Iva Zadro

I have always been wondering about who I am. I know it's a little silly talking about serious things at this early stage of my life but discovering myself is an important thing. I never actually knew what I needed to feel secure, I never knew what I needed to feel satisfied. Somehow, when I was close to finding out who I am, I would always go one step back and not do anything else about it. Still no feeling of security, still no feeling of satisfaction... I am honestly tired of it. I am tired of everything. I am tired of everyone telling me what to do and what to become. That is one of the main reasons I applied for this program. I needed to find myself. So I can not pick a specific moment that I liked the most from when we got to the United States up until now, so I will share with you my state of mind.

When we first came to the United States a big culture shock hit me. No mom and dad, my brothers aren't there, no food that I'm used to, no friends and classmates. Actually, it was much more than just missing your parents and food, everything was different. I was trying to adopt to this whole new lifestyle that I am gonna have to put up with for the next month. My nostalgia just got bigger and bigger, and my adapting process wasn't going very well. But then we came to Whidbey Island... I woke up the next morning, opened my eyes and realized that this is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and I shouldn't let my insecurities ruin it.

As the days were passsing by, I was adapting. I met my beautiful host family and they accepted me as one of their own. Nostalgia was becoming less of a problem now because everything finally felt like home. We went to volunteer at a local food bank which was a real eye opener. When I saw how much people need food for themselves and their families it hit me. My small insecurities were slowly fading away into the deep woods in front of the house, as the water in the like quietly flew. I was finally happy and I started to love life as it is. I was surrounded by breathtaking nature, loving people and fresh air which opened not just my lungs, but my mind and my heart. I understand it all now.

Now I am a totally new person. I am a person who thinks that this program is one of the best programs for young people. It helps us learn more about ourselves as individuals, it helps us grow as people. The most important thing is that it wakes up the humanist inside of us and it makes us realize how lucky we are to be here, helping other people, and by helping other people, helping ourselves.


AminReflections on the Beginning - by Amin Sejfic

After a few beautiful days on a great place, we had to get back to reality. It was hard, but we did it. Whidbey island is going to stay in my heart forever. Those four days that we spend there were something that you can’t experience anywhere else. When you wake up and see so many trees, small lake and when you hear sound of birds, you must think that you’re in paradise. After we took some rest, Tom and rest of the FIUTS team met as with our first days in Seattle. We also had interesting workshops from which we could learn nice things about teamwork and team building. Meeting hosts and having presentation in front of them was very good. Now we start the new period of the program. The fun ends, but something more important begins.

From Monday we start to work, start to think as a team, we start to change things in our minds, and then in the reality. This program is one-time opportunity, chance to learn, meet people and cultures and have fun in the same time. I think that now is time to show our knowledge from the pre-departure orientation and everything that we have learned till this moment.

I don’t have a lot more things to say, maybe because we hadn’t done anything concretely, but I can say that things that we learn through this program, we couldn’t learn on any other way. Thanks guys from FIUTS for everything.


Amina_blogI need a time machine - by Amina Maslo

You wake up. You look through the window and everything's different. New houses, roads, people. But although you see all of it, you are not really aware of the fact that you are actually more than 5000 miles away from your home. You don't realize that you're in the USA in one of the most beautiful cities. It all kinda looks like a dream you'd never wanna be waken up from.

Then, as you are experiencing so many new things you finally get the feeling that it is happening, that you are here, with all these amazing people and you feel like you're on cloud nine. You feel like you've know them for years and the relationship you have with them is so incredible.

Now that I'm trying to put my thoughts into words and describe how incredibly happy and lucky I am because I got the opportunity to be a part of this journey, I realize that it truly is hard to find the rights words and describe my emotions.

I can't believe I've been here for almost three weeks. The time's been passing too fast. Unfortunately, I don`t have a time machine to stop it but enjoying every second with all these wonderful people is the only way to make this journey even more memorable.

So far, I've seen and learned a lot and I think this has already made me a better person and hopefully I will be able to apply all the knowledge I have gained here for the future. Most importantly, I realized that the differences among us is not something that divide us. In fact, it connects us and helps us understand others even better and if someone told me that someone I knew for such a short period of time would become so important to me, I wouldn't believe him.

Once this all ends, we may not be able to spend much time together nor to see each other, but the truth is that they've all become a part of me that will never be taken away from me. All these beautiful memories that we've created here will always have that special place deep inside my heart. And at the end, we should not be sad because it's over. We should all be smiling because it happened and because we became an unbreakable team that nothing can tear apart.

Mateo_blogBonfire Hearts - by Mateo Covcic

“…People like us—we don’t/Need that much, just some-/One that starts/Starts the spark in our bonfire hearts….” -"Bonfire Hearts" by James Blunt


A few days ago we had a workshop where we discussed the values and visions we have. At the end of the session  everyone stood up and  told what are his or hers values are. Some said it's peace, success, some of us were guided by family and friends on the other side we had knowledge and wisdom. Every one of us is different in what she or he can put on the table.

But the Vision. Our vision was the same; a desire for change, for good change. That day I understood that diversity is not just in skin color, it’s not just about religion and tradition, it’s about what guides you , what keeps you warm when it’s raining. And this diversity, diversity of thought, it’s the hardest one to appreciate and understand. You may think it’s impossible to achieve equality in this kind of diversity. The truth is: it is possible. Look at us 18 who are in this program, alternate point of views, different beliefs and backgrounds but still when we come home we just think and dream about how together we would be tomorrow. We dream together about change, about possible equality and understanding between people, and also how much fun we will have.

Photo: Mateo, center in blue jacket, with YLP friends at the Space Needle


The Youth Leadership Program with Bosnia and Herzegovina is sponsored by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State. Learn more here, and click here for details on how to host a participating student or teacher for a homestay during the next program this Fall.

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