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My name is Mia, and I live in Bosnia and Herzegovina. I've been through 1990's and live in Bosnia. I have studied for 8 years in an ethnically divided city, with a "war border-line". That has not stopped me from crossing the line and creating friendships. AMA

Y.M.
Jun 18, 2017

I am Mia and I was born in 1990 in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Everything went well until the war started. I went to being refugee in the end of 1992. I tasted "the piece of war" and also tasted "refugee life". When I came back, my country, which is the most beautiful country for me, was destroyed by war. Consequences are still present today. In 2009 I went to study English Foreign language at the most beautiful city - Mostar. However, Mostar was divided ethnically into two parts: Eastern Mostar belongs to Bosnian majority of population and Western Mostar belongs to Croatian population. The city was divided by "imaginary" line. It was old border line from war days which divided these two parts of town, these two nations who were at war. Many people died on that same line. After the war, "the line" stayed in the heads of Mostar citizens. Some people haven't crossed the line for 20 years. After the war, this was problematic terrain. There were street fights, chauvinistic graffiti and hatred displayed between residents of different nationality. However the most common feeling was mistrust of one nationality towards the other. Of course in such environment it was problematic to spend time at the opposite side. However situation got better in last years, because people are gaining more and more consciousness about importance of mutual respect and about the fact that we are all the same people whose country was destroyed by corruption and that the actual border is "in our heads". I liked to cross the border and to create friendships with the people of different nationality. I am not afraid of crossing the border; it must not stop you from being human being.

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Is it dangerous being a woman in Bosina?

Jun 19, 7:39PM EDT0

How much personal freedom do you enjoy as a citizen of Bosnia?

Jun 18, 12:34AM EDT1

Thank you for your question. Well at most points you have freedom, but when it comes to job and employment you don't have that much freedom to choose, cause it's not a easy to find a job and make a good earning career.

Jun 18, 11:35AM EDT0

What do you think about the style of government in Bosnia?

Jun 17, 3:57PM EDT44

Thank you for your question. I'm not really satisfied with the way my country is being led by the government. There is still a lot of corruption on every scale, especially when it comes to employment, and young people leave the country. I don't think that anyone has real interest to make things better. 

Jun 17, 8:05PM EDT32

Do you have any suggestions how to set things right?

Jun 20, 9:04AM EDT27

Do you enjoy freedom of expression in your country?

Jun 17, 12:41PM EDT1

Thank you for your question. Well I'm not sure about that freedom, because most people are subjected to political interests and everyone speak within their own interest.

Jun 17, 8:07PM EDT0

What are the dangers of crossing ethnic lines to form friendships?

Jun 17, 3:54AM EDT1

Thank you for your question. Street-fights were often in the past and it all depends how people treat you, or how you treat other people. These fights were more often in the past, but luckily situation gets better. It's more about attitude of other people (on both sides) how they still concern crossing as something weird.

Jun 17, 8:20PM EDT0

Still, what are the main differences between the two parts of the country?

Jun 17, 2:58AM EDT21

Thank you for your question. It's just geographical difference, maybe difference in mentality, customs, tradition. However people make differences on nationality/religion basis. 

Jun 17, 8:22PM EDT37

So, are things getting better now?

Jun 20, 10:30AM EDT18

Hi, what did you feel after the war had started?

Jun 17, 1:39AM EDT1

Thank you for your question. I was a child, i remember I felt fear because I was not able to play in my house any more. However when you see documentaries of what had happened, you feel grief and dissapointment, especially when you walk the streets with broken buildings. 

Jun 17, 8:24PM EDT0

How are the relationships with Bosnia and its neighboring countries?

Jun 16, 9:40PM EDT1

Thank you for your question. I'm quite satisfied because they are all trying to have appropriate relationship. However the most iportant thing is that people recognize the wrong ideologies and that chauvinism is prevented.

Jun 17, 8:26PM EDT0

Does your family feel the same as you?

Jun 16, 6:42PM EDT1

Thank you for your question. Well I believe yes, they do. They have similar attitudes and they support creating new connections and friendships. 

Jun 17, 8:28PM EDT0

Is it acceptable to marry outside your religion in Bosnia?

Jun 16, 2:32PM EDT27

Thank you for your question. Well different people have different attitudes. Some of them support it and some are very radical. I believe that people should be judged by their qualities not their name, nationality or religion. 

Jun 17, 8:30PM EDT40

I absolutely agree with you!

Jun 20, 9:29AM EDT41

How free are you to travel beyond the borders of Bosnia and Herzegovina?

Jun 16, 12:08PM EDT20

Thank you for your question. Well it all depends on laws of particular countries. Some of them require visa and some don't. 

Jun 17, 8:31PM EDT17

Where would you like to go most?

Jun 20, 9:21AM EDT35

Do you meet with your new friends often?

Jun 16, 10:45AM EDT1

Thank you for your question. It all depends on relationship you build. I judge people by their qualities, not nationality or religion.

Jun 17, 8:32PM EDT0

What kind of ethnic clashes have you witnessed personally?

Jun 16, 9:19AM EDT31

Thank you for your question. Luckily I withnessed only verbal arguments, and other types I've heard on news but never withnessed. Maybe there were clashes right after the war, but the situation gets better now.

Jun 17, 8:34PM EDT13

I'm really glad to know that!

Jun 20, 9:10AM EDT27

What are the best prospects for a career in Bosnia?

Jun 16, 8:32AM EDT1

Thank you for your question. Well I'm sorry to say that here you need to know important people in order to get a job, no matter the qualifications. That is why young people are leaving. However I think that situation is getting better because every working place requires competence and knowlege and people become aware of it.

Jun 17, 8:36PM EDT0

What are the biggest economic challenges facing Bosnia?

Jun 16, 7:22AM EDT1

Thank you for your question. The problem is that state has enough potencial but it is not used enough. There are a lot of political parties and they cannot make a deal while working together. The country is falling into debts.

Jun 17, 8:38PM EDT0

Are there any opposition groups who protest against that?

Jun 20, 9:35AM EDT0

Do you have a free press in your native land?

Jun 15, 11:41PM EDT1

Thank you for your question. I believe there is but some things like economy are hard to make better, even with the help of free press.

Jun 17, 8:40PM EDT0

How would you describe the character of the Bosnian people?

Jun 15, 11:05PM EDT1

Thank you for your question. I love my people no matter religion because they never complain, they take life as it is, and it is character I admire. 

Jun 17, 8:42PM EDT0

How does growing up in a war torn country impact you?

Jun 15, 9:30PM EDT1

Thank you for your question. Well I felt dissapointment and grief while watching war documentaries because I was not able to understand things that happened. However one of the most difficult things is that you don't have much choice while looking for work. Most people lived very modestly and some in poverty. I hope the economy will get better. 

Jun 17, 8:45PM EDT0

Hello! What is your major?

Jun 15, 6:00PM EDT34

Thank you for your question. Well I would not define myself according to nationality or religion because I believe that if I'm living in BiH, all people are my people.

Jun 17, 8:47PM EDT25

Oh no, maybe I confused you with my question - I meant, what is your specialization (profession)?

Jun 20, 9:34AM EDT18

How is your generation of Bosnians different from the previous one?

Jun 15, 5:24PM EDT1

Thank you for your question. I believe that the stress from the war was passed down from parents to children. There are children with emotional wounds and traumatic experience. My generation grew up during war. Their attitude depends on attitudes of their parents. Some people are reserved and some are open for creating friendships.

Jun 17, 8:50PM EDT0

What would you do if you fell in love with a guy from Herzegovina?

Jun 15, 1:34PM EDT1

Thank you for your question. I think I would stay there because for me it one of the most beautiul places on earth, no matter everything.

Jun 17, 8:52PM EDT0

What do you think will happen to your country in future?

Jun 15, 3:00AM EDT43

Thank you for your question. I hope that things will get better with economy and political questions however somethimes I'm afraid that similar things from the past could happen again in the future, that is why I think its so much important to represent right politics which will help our country to prosper and prevent any kind of intolerance or wrong ideology.

Jun 15, 10:55AM EDT13

Why, you're an optimist - that's fantastic!

Jun 20, 9:26AM EDT39

Have you ever thought of emigrating, and where would you go?

Jun 15, 2:36AM EDT1

Thank you for your question. Yes, I thought of immigration when times get hard because of constant political disputes and bad economy, but I love my country and I wish things would get better and I would not have to leave. The land where I would like to go to are Italy at first place because its beautiful than France, Spain, Sweden, Austria, Swiss, Norway, US or Canada.

Jun 15, 10:46AM EDT0

What are your personal political views as a Bosnian?

Jun 15, 2:19AM EDT1

Thank you for your question. I believe that the only right way for my country is to work on values of mutual tolerance, acceptance and respect. The only way is to have a political party where everyone are acepted and a party which is interested in improving economy, promoting these values and building common life. 

Jun 15, 10:32AM EDT0

How are inter-ethnic marriages treated in your native Bosnia?

Jun 15, 1:49AM EDT1

Thank you for your question. There are different people, and on each side you can always find people with extremist point of view. Therefore if you ask such people about their attitude you will encounter problematic oppinion. However majority of people have normal perspective and it should not represent a problem. People with mixed nationality always have a choice to put emphasis on their mixed origin or to join particular religion completely.

Jun 15, 10:20AM EDT0

How would you describe a typical education in Bosnia?

Jun 15, 12:04AM EDT1

Thank you for your question. I have very positive attutude about our education because the educational system is not focused on specialization. It is focused on providing informations at different field and on their acquirement, which ends up in creation of overall knowledge in all scientific fields. I know that there are cases of corruption in educational institutions but it is being discovered and penalized, and if you follow the right path and take precaution measures within educational institution, than you have quality education. I would only say that there is a great need to place emphasis on promoting values of tolerance, acceptance and mutual respect within educational system. 

Jun 15, 10:08AM EDT0

How is Bosnia unique from the rest of Europe?

Jun 14, 10:51PM EDT1

Thank you for your question. Since I am also Historian by profession I know that Balkan has always been place of different nations, cultures and religions meeting or clashing, which often caused problems and catastrophies if there was lack of mutual acceptance. However Bosnia is even more uniqe because so many diversities can be seen here in this little country. I believe that the cruical thing for my country to be uniqe and beautiful is to spread awareness about mutual acceptance and tolerance. 

Jun 15, 9:38AM EDT0

What is the history of the Bosnian-Serb genocide and its repercussions?

Jun 14, 9:19PM EDT1

Thank you for your question. My country and the whole Balkan has always been a place of mixing diffrent cultures, religions and nations because Balkan is some type of world crossroads. However, the problem is that these diverities were not accepted or tolerated bethween each other. That is the main root of the problem which generates into early history. The problem becomes even greater if economy falls down and if extremist ideologies come out on the surface. That is the crucial reason why violence happens. For me it is important to recognize wrong, extremist or chauvinistic ideologies on time and to prevent their spreading because consequences are more than catastrophical.  

Jun 15, 9:30AM EDT0

How do you think Bosnia is stereotyped by the rest of the world?

Jun 14, 8:02PM EDT1

Thank you for your question. Well I am afraid that people percieved us as unsafe territory due to war and now I am afraid that people percieve us as a country with high terrorist risk. I love my country and I know that 90% of people in are ok. There are always people with extreme beliefs no matter what world nation, race, religion or country in you go to. But the important thing is not to judge anyone based on stereotypes or particular examples.

Jun 14, 9:07PM EDT0

What is the history behind the ethnic divide in Bosnia?

Jun 14, 7:44PM EDT1

Thank you for your question. Well Bosnia is home to many nations but the problem is that people do not accept each other's diversity. Often they are blided by stories of the past, because this territory has been place of meeting and clashing different religions and nationalities starting from early historical period. Balkan is a world's crossroad but often it did not have positive outcome. 

Jun 14, 9:12PM EDT0

How do you personally break down ethnic and religious barriers?

Jun 14, 4:19PM EDT17

Thank you for your question. I accept peopleno matter the race, nation or religion, especially if they have right perspective of life,. I respect everyone, even those who are bittered or think differently, they have their own reasons. And I am not afraid to cross the line. 

Jun 14, 6:50PM EDT9

For example, do you have foreign friends?

Jun 20, 9:58AM EDT7

How do you compare the divide in your city to Berlin?

Jun 14, 2:02AM EDT1

Thank you for your question. Well people of Berlin were physically prevented to cross. People here were also physically prevented in the war. However, after the fall of Berlin wall they wanted to interact. Here, the fear and mistrust was present for long time ater the war stopped. 

Jun 14, 6:53PM EDT0

Do people really feel so divided there?

Jun 14, 1:10AM EDT1

Thank you for your question. Well national divisions were the main reason for war, however in this case I believe that after the war, it was not about division so much but more about fear, bad memories and mistrust that occupied people.

Jun 14, 6:59PM EDT0

I plan to visit Bosnia and Herzegovina someday, could you give me some advice?

Jun 13, 11:18PM EDT26

Thank you for your question. Well this is a beatuful country, however if you plan a trip into landscape (grass, green surface) you need to be informed about position of mine fields. And if you plan a tour in Sarajevo or Mostar there are many tourists from each corner of the world and there are many 5star hotels for lower price and many museums to visit. Everything is ok, just keep a cool profile.  

Jun 14, 7:07PM EDT40

Thanks!

Jun 20, 9:58AM EDT11

What do you think is needed to achieve religious tolerance in Bosnia?

Jun 13, 10:54PM EDT29

Thank you for your question. I think there is only one thing to do, we need to teach our children to respect diversity, and not to accept shovinistic ideologies of any kind. This is the only way for building a life together as one unity.

Jun 14, 7:09PM EDT30

I guess you're right here ...

Jun 20, 9:50AM EDT12

Yours is a unique story! Do you have any photos of your country to share?

Jun 13, 9:59PM EDT33

Thank you for your question. Thank you, there are many great pictures however my favourite are pictures of the old bridge, built in 16th ct by Great Otoman Sultan Sulejman the Great. Unfortunately the brige was destroyed in the war but luckily UNESCO had it reconstructed and protected. It is the most beatiful place for me, because of river Neretva which is fast but also challenging, sometimes even dangerous because of strong currents. Here is the picture of Old Bridge.

Jun 14, 7:22PM EDT36

It's fantastic! I should definitely visit Bosnia

Jun 20, 9:51AM EDT35

How does Trump's call for a Muslim ban impact your native Bosnia?

Jun 13, 9:49PM EDT1

Thank you for your question. Well I guess Trump has his own reasons, he is trying to build America, but the most important thing is to undersand that you should never judge anyone based on stereotypes. I don't belong to muslim culture but I live with muslims for my whole life, I go to school with them, have friends and from my own experience 95% of people are ok, with normal perspective and views on life. It is important to know that you can meet extremism everywhere you go to, in every world nation, country, race or religion. There are people who think ok and some people who do not. Therefore you cannot put bad and general judgement about anyone. It's important to respect people. 

Jun 14, 8:49PM EDT0

How has war shaped the character of Bosnia and its people?

Jun 13, 7:26PM EDT1

Thank you for your question. Well the war definitely divided my country and created a great amount of mistrust and bittereness among people. Victims are everywhere from people who lost their possesions to people who lost their loved ones and people who live with post war traumas. There is problem of dealing with war crimes and providing justice. The jurisdiction process takes a lot of time and sometimes there is lack of evidence. Emotional scars are still there and victims are often neglected and live in poverty. The most devastating thing is that economy is broken down, corruption was present on each scale and young people leave the country because its hard to find employment. But no matter everything some people believe in better future and choose to build a new society with greater values of mutual acceptance.

Jun 14, 8:43PM EDT0

Hello! In general, do you regret having born in this particular country?

Jun 13, 6:40PM EDT1

Thank you for your question. There were times when I was afraid, bittered, unsatisfied but I love my country because I had my own path and experience. It's just life, somethimes it's good, somethimes it hits harder. 

Jun 14, 8:51PM EDT0

What are the major religious and ethnic groups in your region?

Jun 13, 5:14PM EDT1

Thank you for your question. There are three constitutive nations Bosniacs/Muslims who practice Islam, Croatians who practice Catholicism, Serbs who are Ortodox. However I believe that since we all live in one country of Bosnia nad Herzegovina the term Bosnians belong to all of us. If we divide country geographically there are Bosnians and Herzegovians and the difference is big in mentality, tradition, perspective, no matter what nation you belong to. However concerning nationality, majority of people are mix of two or even three nationalities and that can cause a polemic sometimes. They can choose which religion to practice. But the most important thing is not to put accent on division but to put effort in building unity and mutual acceptance. 

Jun 14, 8:59PM EDT0

How do you think Bosnia is viewed by the rest of the world?

Jun 13, 4:47PM EDT1

Thank you for your question. Well I am afraid that people percieved us as unsafe terrain because of war and poverty, and now I am even more concerned because some people percieve us as a country with high terrorist risk. I wish this was not the case, because my country is the most beautiful country for me and 90% of people in my country are ok. You can always find people with extreme beliefs no matter what nation, race, religion or country in the world you go to. But the important thing is not to judge anyone based on stereotypes or particular examples.

Jun 14, 7:52PM EDT0

What can you tell us about the ethnic cleansing campaign?

Jun 13, 4:13PM EDT1

Thank you for your question. It is the worst idea that can ever exist and it is the worst thing that ever happened to my country. I wish that more and more world countries recognize the importance of reacting on time and preventing such ideologies, so that it never happens to anyone anywhere. 

Jun 14, 7:43PM EDT0

How do tradition and modern technology combine in Bosnia?

Jun 13, 4:12PM EDT1

Thank you for your question. Well traditional people are ok with technology to a certain point, but mostly there are older generations who are not so much educated informaticaly (my parents are similar case). I think that the greater problem is created by bad economic situation. However there are younger generations who track tech-trends and are eager to have the latest models. Since the economic situation is poor, some people give away their whole monthly salary in order to have the latest Iphone model. It is considered as prestige here and some people want to have it and to show off no matter the cost.     

Jun 14, 7:39PM EDT0

What do you feel when you walk the streets with war traces?

Jun 13, 2:48PM EDT17

Thank you for your question. I have to admit that lot of buildings were rebuilt or removed and a new life began long ago, however that is a good queston because I have to say that when I walk similar streets I am reminded of the past and I feel devasted in side, every single time, even when I'm not thinking of it, it's somewhere in my subconscience, because I'm sorry for my country and people who suffered.  

Jun 14, 7:31PM EDT15

But don't you think that such feelings and reminiscences are useful because thanks to them we will never forget?

Jun 20, 10:34AM EDT32

What do you think was the main reason of this war?

Jun 13, 2:45PM EDT1

Thank you for your question. I think that the main reason was wrong and extremist politics, wanting a divison and not accepting diversities. We must never forget victims, but need to teach our children acceptance, tolerance and mutual respect in the future.

Jun 14, 7:26PM EDT0

How does racism in the US compare to the situation in Bosnia?

Jun 13, 2:32PM EDT1

Thank you for your question. It's a similar situation because extremism is a bad thing no matter what race, nation or religion we talk about. Not accepting or not tolerating diversities can have catastrophical consequences.

Jun 14, 6:46PM EDT0

Why should Americans care about the fate of Bosnia?

Jun 13, 1:42PM EDT1

Thank you for your question. Well your county is one of the most powerful countries and it was always a country of democratic values accepting diversity, so you are imposed as a model to be followed. Your country stopped the war by forcing all three presidents to sign a peace treaty (I wish it happened earlier). Howevere, everyone should care about Bosnia and prevent extremism or shovinism because they result in genocide. The best example for your question would be WWII. If exreme ideologies had been prevented on time, war would have never happened. 

Jun 14, 6:43PM EDT0

Why, in your opinion, did this imaginary borderline appear?

Jun 13, 1:37PM EDT1

Thank you for your question. Well the border line was real, it divided territory of these two nations. My second picture is picture of the road whic was part of that border line, and you can see that there are broken buildings because fire was constant and it was dangerous, cause many people lost their lives there. I think taht the border stayed in people's heads because of fear and it was hard to forgett everything bad that happened there.

Jun 14, 6:27PM EDT0

How would you describe the ethnic makeup of your circle of friends?

Jun 13, 1:14PM EDT1

Thank you for your question. Well I don't support extremism or shovinism in any case and that is why I don't have many friends. People mostly have the need to belong somewhere, however these attitudes sometimes grow into national shovinism which is a very bad path.

Jun 14, 6:16PM EDT0

What is your reaction to Trump's position on refugees?

Jun 13, 1:02PM EDT1

Thank you for your question. Well I understand that nowdays people have distrust towards refuges because of terroristic attacs. However majority of people have the right perspective about life and they deserve a chance because they are in bad condition. I've tasted refugee life myself and it's not comfortable. I know there is fear and mistrust but the important thing is to provide help for people that really need it.

Jun 14, 6:13PM EDT0

As a Bosnian, what do you think of Trump's ""America First"" platform?

Jun 13, 12:25PM EDT1

Thank you for your question. Well I don't belong to muslim culture, however I've been living here for my whole life, going to school, having frends and I have to say that majority of people are ok. In each side there are people with normal perspective and more extreme perspective. It all depends on somebody's beliefs. I know that Trump has his own reasons and he is probably trying to make your country better. However I have to say, from my experience that extremism is not the answer, no matter what nation and what religion you belong to.

Jun 14, 6:04PM EDT0

Hi Mia, do you have any plans to travel somewhere else?

Jun 13, 11:29AM EDT31

Thank you for your question. Well I imagined to live somewhere abroad but mostly because of bad economical situation and because of constant disputes and difficulties about national questions. You are always afraid the the same thing could happen in the future plus its hard to find a job and you face corruption each day, but I love my country no matter everything

Jun 14, 5:56PM EDT32

Good for you! A true patriot!

Jun 20, 10:34AM EDT12

What was your most memorable meeting with Herzegovina people?

Jun 13, 11:05AM EDT1

Than you for your question. Well practically Bosnia and Herzegovina are one country, however there is a great difference in mentality, life perspective, habits, tradition. Herzegovians are more traditional and somethimes more conservative and determined when it comes to particular questions or disputes.

Jun 14, 5:43PM EDT0

What are your main reminiscences about the 90's?

Jun 13, 10:58AM EDT1

Thank you for your question. Since the war began, my family fled because the food supplies were gone and the situation was getting worse. I remember being quite poor as a refugee and living that life, however I came back when I was 7 and luckily everything turned out well, my family was alive, eventhough my grandpa was stuck in Bosnia during the war. 

Jun 14, 5:50PM EDT0

Hello Mia! Have you ever encountered violence from the other side?

Jun 13, 7:10AM EDT1

Thank you for your question. I haven't had bad experience, however some people (on both sides) look at you with wondering glance in their eyes. These are consequences of war and memories that come out on the surface when you mention division of city. 

Jun 13, 9:40AM EDT0

hello Mia, what's your profession now?

Jun 13, 1:44AM EDT37

Thank you for your question. Currently I am at the end of my M.A. studies English Language and History. I tried to find a job in order to stay and live in that city, because for me it is the most beautiful city, but its hard to find employment due to broken economy of my country.

Jun 13, 9:43AM EDT18

Good luck, I think everything turns out great for you!

Jun 20, 10:07AM EDT16

Hi Mia! Were the people "from another side" reluctant to communicate with you?

Jun 13, 1:31AM EDT1

Thank you for your question. Well there are people with different attitudes and beliefs at both sides. It all depends on what they have been through and how they percieve differences. Some people are happy to see you, some are neutral but somethimes I saw glance of mistrust or wondering in their eyes (on both sides) if you are crossing the line. The most important thing is that some parts are being reconstructed and more and more people are not percieveng the old border any more. There is a park suited for long walks and school, so more nad more people socialize at the very place.

Jun 13, 9:50AM EDT0

Everyone keeps saying to me the world without wars is a utopia. Do you think so?

Jun 12, 11:58PM EDT1

Thank you for your question. I think that wars are reality because there are always political interests which cause them. Howevere people who had a chance to even taste the war know that its a living hell and nothing can justify cruelty. My country was victim of wrong politics and wrong ideology. In the end the economy is broken, most people end up in poveerty and only some people have the benefits, mostly polititians.

Jun 13, 9:58AM EDT0