Othmane's Diaries: Time to Say Goodbye
In order for me to be closer to Vildana and some other BH Futures Foundation members, and work together on the last preparation phase of the Futures Makerspace, I went back to spend my last two Bosnian weeks in Banja Luka, where I was comfortably hosted by a Foundation scholar, Damir Bajramović and his friendly flatmate Andrej Bucalo.
Among other things, we focused on attracting children and teenagers to join the Futures Makerspace, by introducing them to the various courses they will be offered (programming, design, business) as well as all the tools provided (IT devices, 3D printers, etc.) that they will be able to use without any conditions, as long as they have motivation. We considered using the internet to reach out to the parents, by searching for any kind of local association, but we realized that they were not so present online. We did nonetheless spread the word thanks to our contacts in Srebrenica and I am glad the introductory session, an informative presentation led by Ali and Selma Aličić, received pretty high attendance.
That is promising for the upcoming courses, which will also be organized by young volunteers from all over Bosnia and Herzegovina. I am still impressed at how proactive and dedicated the volunteers are to this project in particular and the Foundation in general, no matter how demanding the tasks can be. On the one hand, they are ready to invest their time because they function as a family, and they cherish their role as serving a cause, and on the other hand, they are aware of the benefits they gain in terms of soft skills, exposure to top experts and (inter)national connections – and this is one precious help, much more valuable than mere scholarships, which they in turn seek to pass on to the younger students that they will be assisting.
When I was not working on my Srebrenica article or freelancing, I enjoyed touring Banja Luka with Vildana, Nikola and Andrej Perković (another Foundation scholar). Architecturally speaking, it is a quite peculiar city in the sense that much of it was rebuilt after the devastating 1969 earthquake, which gives it a considerable modernist flair. I found it interesting to try to spot out the buildings that came with the city’s rebirth, from those that survived, remaining from previous eras – most notably the ones left by the still-acclaimed Ban Milosavljević, when Banja Luka was the capital of one of Yugoslavia’s early provinces as a kingdom, the Vrbas Banovina (1929-1941). Just like anywhere else in the country, and this is not only true for the architecture and urban planning, it amazes me to notice how so many different, historical influences smoothly blend into something that is unquestionably Bosnian. This is one fascinating melting pot.
On the last weekend of my stay in Bosnia, a friend of mine from Trieste, Jessica Titze, came to visit me, and we drove to visit both bustling Sarajevo and peaceful Jajce (where she decided to adopt a dog!). I was proud to play the “local guide”, and interestingly enough…I felt home at that point. And I was already nostalgic about the whole experience, which has amplified my curiosity about this unique region of Europe and taught me more adaptability and cooperation. I am thankful to have met colleagues who quickly became friends. Young people who are constantly proving to their surroundings that optimism and ambition are real alternatives in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the whole Balkan area. As Eddie firmly believes and often reminds his scholars: “Your network is your net worth”. Luckily, staying in touch is a lot easier today, and they are very welcome to visit me in France or wherever I happen to be; and in any case, I definitely wish to continue collaborating with the BH Futures Foundation, including through the mentorship program with Vildana, and to return to the country at the earliest opportunity.
Written by: Othmane Tabit (Osman Tabić / Осман Табић)