Jamie at the old Ključ fort, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Educators rarely talk about the concept of cognitive dissonance, which occurs when a student is confronted with new ideas that run counter to their preconceived notions. In the student’s attempt to relieve this discomfort, they try to make sense of the world by reconciling what they thought they knew with what new information has taught them.
We each came to the city of Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, with our own preconceived notions, and we left profoundly changed by the people we met, the landscapes we explored, and the ideas discussed. We went through a reconciliation within our minds and left changed.
Reconciliation is hard but important work for a country in the process of reimagining itself. We were blessed by the Bosnian community that let us into their homes, temples, mosques, churches, and schools. We dove in deep, and that plunge revealed a sense of change for a better future. Our students saw a side of Bosnia that never makes it on to the mainstream media: the subtle changes moving the country forward; the friendships we witnessed between Orthodox, Catholics, and Muslims.
For many, these steps seem too slow, too insignificant. For me, the relationships being built one person at a time give a sense of hope. It’s where the real change happens, where the community is built again. It was an honor and privilege for the TGS community to witness. Thank you, Sarajevo. We drank from the Sebilj and look forward to our return.
Sarajevo’s Sebilj fountain. Photo by 10th grader Pablo H.