Hometown: I was born and raised in Bosnia and Herzegovina, a country mainly known for the Bosnian War from 1992-1995. If anyone in the U.S. has ever heard of my hometown of Tuzla, it was probably because of Hillary Clinton's controversial "land[ing] under sniper fire," exploited by her opposition during the presidential campaign five years ago.
Educational background: After the sniper fire, shelling, and other forms of armed attacks had ended, I continued going to a real school, instead of irregularly visiting an improvised basement classroom, and eventually graduated with a B.A. in Journalism at University of Tuzla.
Career background: I worked as a journalist for a few years at a couple of local broadcast media stations, and I was deeply in love with my profession. I believed (and I still do) I was doing an important and philanthropic job to create a change for the better in my community. Sadly, I left Bosnia due to the most cited reason for migration of youth from countries such as my homeland: I was disappointed in the system and discouraged that I could ever do anything to improve my and lives of my peers in a such hopeless place.
Why Arcadia? I came across Arcadia University searching for programs to continue my higher education that would combine my past experience and my desire to be in a position where change was possible, and I thought instantly “This is me, this is what I have been looking for.” Ultimately, hands-on work combined with an extensive theoretical foundation, close student-professor relationships, and individually designed studying abroad and/or internship opportunities were motivating factors that distinguished the Arcadia's IPCR from other similar programs.
How has Arcadia’s global emphasis impacted your learning? The program enabled me to do “real work,” such as collaborating with American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) as well as going on an inspiring and fruitful field study to Serbia and Kosovo. These opportunities provided me with an inside look at NGOs and the nature of post-conflict state-building and international relations, respectively. Also, last summer I spent a month in Jogjakarta, Indonesia, researching local perceptions of religious freedom, which is a very controversial issue in the “largest world's democracy,” where, as independent reports demonstrate, violations of the freedom of religion have been on rise since the end of the Suharto's era.
What have been some of your key experiences during your time at Arcadia? Currently, I am interning with the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs and doing work focused on increasing citizens’ political participation in post-war, developing, and transitioning countries. Unfortunately, I failed to recognize the importance of these exact issues and consequently failed to take action about 10 years ago in war-torn, democratizing Bosnia. I left instead. Now, I better understand why the occurrences in post-war Bosnia happened.
Master’s Thesis topic/Current research interest: My master's thesis project focuses on exploring ways in which countries can mitigate potential harm from elections held soon after the end of ethnic conflict. This research fits into my broader interests regarding both democratization and ethnic conflict.
Career Goal: Driven by my realizations about my past in Bosnia, one of my goals is to contribute in the international effort to create strong democratic institutions and powerful civil societies in countries undergoing democratic transitions. I am not proud to admit that 10 years ago I thought I was in the position where change was impossible, but I can work to ensure that other people do not believe so. Ideally, I am planning to pursue a career in international development or NGO program management, working on projects that enhance collaboration between citizens and governments and develop the capacity of civil societies for organizing, advocacy, government oversight, etc. I would like to help keep governments across the world accountable and responsive to their citizens. It may involve variety of activities depending on context, such as education about the democratic process, raising awareness, organizational capacity building, targeted advocacy projects, and monitoring different segments of governments’ work and the broader political process.