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INTERNATIONAL SUMMER SCHOOL: YOUTH AND HERITAGE (ISSYH) July 24th – August 7th 2011 Stolac, Bosnia and Herzegovina PDF Ispis E-mail

Programme Summary

International Forum Bosnia organised the Sixth International Summer School on Youth and Heritage, in Stolac (Bosnia and Herzegovina) in July/August, 2011.

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The School is a practical development of many years of research on tolerance and draws on an extensive network of partners, both individuals and organizations, committed to social and cultural reconstruction, reconciliation, and respect for diversity.

The aim is to assist young people to reach a greater understanding and appreciation of the diversity and plurality in world cultures, particularly those that contribute to European diversity. Only in this way can the unity in diversity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, as a model of an open society, be recognised, conserved, and developed.

Through an integrated two-week programme of seminars, fieldwork, practical activities, and recreational evenings, participants were provided expert introduction to and hands-on experience of traditional crafts and bodies of knowledge, architectural heritage, sustainable ways of life, and environmental practice. They are also encouraged to think about how socially cohesive, but fundamentally open communities can be developed and maintained, as well as the importance of combining diversity with strong roots in local heritage.

The school faculty was made up of local and visiting experts in the promotion of cultural and religious dialogue, specific areas of heritage preservation and promotion, traditional crafts and techniques, and similar fields, as well as an appropriate number of support staff.

The school hosted 30 young people, half from Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the remainder from Europe and other parts of the world. The international mix ensured a lively encounter between members of different cultures.

This year, particular attention was given to identity under conditions of European integration, as well as globalization and the reaction to it of cultural and religious prejudice, xenophobia and nationalist chauvinism. The school involved seminars and workshops on these issues of cultural dialogue, the complex interrelationships between cultures, and the causes and effects of conflict that targets cultural or religious difference.

As a forum for exploring certain aspects of traditional culture at first hand, the school involved an increased number of practical workshops on forgotten skills like traditional woodworking, carpet-making, and copper art workshop.

Fieldwork was focused on the renovation and rehabilitation of the damaged cultural and natural heritage of Stolac. There have been a number of field trips to local sites of interest on the Adriatic coast and in the hinterland.

 

History of the International Summer School on Youth and Heritage

The First International Summer School on Youth and Heritage took place in 2006 (July 23rd to August 9th). It was a unique event, with eighty young participants from seven countries living together in a tent city. The programme was judged to have been exceptionally successful. Both the organizers and participants committed to developing the project as a long-term annual gathering of young people.

The second school took place between July 28th and August 11th, 2007. It was considerably smaller than the first one, with around 30 participants from five different countries.

The third school took place between July 31st and August 9th, 2008. This camp involved 31 young participants, again from five countries.


The Hadži Junuz-aga Mehmedbašić Endowment House - The International Youth Centre for Cultural Heritage and Education before and after renovation

 

The schools used the practical example of cross-cultural work to counter segregation, discrimination and apartheid in Stolac, engaging local involvement in rebuilding some of the town’s war-damaged cultural heritage, which includes some of the most valuable gems of traditional Bosnian architecture.

The first three schools involved major public works elements, including the rehabilitation of the mosque on the bridge, the mosque and school at Uzinovići, the Poljuba orthodox cemetery, cleaning of the old graveyards at Gorica and Bokulja, clearing and conservation works on the Podgrad water mill, and cleaning the Bregava riverbed, under the supervision of expert conservationists.


The Mosque on the Bridge in Stolac: during reconstruction and restored

 

A major component was the restoration of old buildings to serve as public spaces. The first three schools rehabilitated the Podgradski Konak and the Hadži Junuz-aga Mehmedbašić Endowment House. Restoration activities included every aspect of rebuilding under the expert supervision of professional conservationists and restorers.

 

As a result of these activities, the Hadži Junuz-aga Mehmedbašić House has been designated the International Youth Centre for Cultural Heritage and Education (IYC), while the Podgradski Konak is now the Human Rights Centre of the Youth Forum of Stolac (HRC).

In addition to the public works, the schools involved lectures, seminars, and workshops on topics of religious and cultural coexistence and reconstruction.

The Fourth International Summer School took place between July 31st and August 9th 2009, with forty participants, eleven lecturers, five professional assistants, and eight staff. The Fifth School took place between the 2nd and 17th August 2010. There were seventy participants and a similar faculty to the previous year.

Like the earlier schools, the fourth and fifth schools included physical reconstruction, with a focus on the 17th century house and garden complex in the Uzinovići part of the town that now houses the House for International Dialogue and Reconciliation (HIDR). The house has been fully rebuilt and restored, including traditional stonework, woodwork, and carpentry. It will be fully functional in time for the 2011 school. The 4th and 5th camps also continued the lectures and seminars of earlier years. A new departure was the introduction of workshops at which participants gained a basic proficiency in woodworking, bookbinding, and carpet weaving. The fruits of their work have been used to outfit and furnish the IHDR.

About Stolac

The town of Stolac is in southern Bosnia and Herzegovina, 160 km from Sarajevo, but just 30 km from the Adriatic coast and 100 km from Dubrovnik. It lies at the juncture of two valleys, through one of which the Bregava River flows in an East-West direction. During July and August, the Stolac region celebrates the fig and welcomes the ripening of the grape, watermelon, and muskmelon. Flocks of goats are to be seen on the surrounding hills.

Throughout its history, Stolac has been a very open town, renowned for its rich cultural heritage, dating back to the Palaeolithic. Ancient roads lead one from Illyrian forts and Roman settlements past mediaeval monuments to the coexisting forms of Christian, Muslim, and Jewish culture. Until the 1992 to 1995 war against Bosnia and Herzegovina, Stolac was a typical plural society. Due largely to the impact of outside forces, the town suffered extensive damage, much of its heritage was laid waste, and a large part of its population expelled. Since the war, Stolac has embarked on a difficult process of restoration and social reconstruction. The restoration of cultural memory and history is crucial to building its future, but for that public opinion and attitudes and behaviour must change. This has required international help and cooperation.

Introduction

As in previous years, the programme of the Sixth International Summer School was organised by International Forum Bosnia in Stolac, with the support of the Stolac Youth Forum, the Association for the Restoration of Civic Trust in Stolac Municipality, the Stolac Church Parish Council, the Franciscan Seminary in Sarajevo, and the Franciscan Friaries of the Silver Bosnia province, as well as a number of international donors and organisations.

The summer school brings together young people from across the globe, providing an opportunity to contribute to the rehabilitation and reconstruction of a plural community devastated by war and by ideological images of irreconcilable difference. By countering current conceptions of identity and difference, the school strengthens the development of civil society based on mutual tolerance and trust among individuals from different backgrounds.

The programme has four complementary aspects:

1.      a set of coordinated working activities,

2.      a series of practical craft workshops,

3.      a number of educational activities, and

4.      a recreational aspect for informal socializing and cultural encounter.

The activities of the school were based around the three buildings restored by the schools in previous years – the Podgradski Konak, the International Youth Centre, and the House of International Dialogue and Reconciliation.

Working activities 

Work activities play a central role in the concept of the school. The aim of the school is to develop social engagement and reconciliation through a combination of practical activities and discussion-based activities. There is a special sense of achievement to be gained from seeing how the themes discussed in abstract or historical terms can take on concrete form in the restoration of historical treasures or the creation of new works in traditional modes. This sense of achievement is reinforced by the knowledge that the results of group work are put to use for the community, restoring a sense of continuity and providing modernity with roots in the past.


Reconstruction works along the course of the Bregava river bed, at the ancient watermills

In previous years the schools have involved reconstruction of a number of historic buildings in Stolac, communal works on the Bregava River, the development of town garden spaces, and the protection of local natural heritage. Participants played a very active role in the reconstruction of the Podgradski Konak, the Hadži Junuz-aga Mehmedbašić Endowment House, a 17th century traditional residential complex in the Brade area of the town, and a second 17th century house in the Uzinovići area of the town, as well as number of mosques, graveyards, and other public buildings. Restoration activities included every aspect from rebuilding walls to reroofing and finishing works, under the expert supervision of professional conservationists and restorers. As a result of these activities, the Hadži Junuz-aga Mehmedbašić House is now the International Youth Centre for Cultural Heritage and Education, while the Podgradski Konak is the Human Rights Centre of the Youth Forum of Stolac. The Uzinovići house is the new House of International Dialogue and Reconciliation. Details of these projects may be found at www.ifbosna.org.ba.


Continued rehabilitation of the House of International Reconciliation and Dialogue (HIDR)



Bokulja graveyards during cleaning works

 

In 2011, participants performed a range of conservation tasks, learned both the how and why of responsible conservation and reconstruction. Final decision regarding which projects participants worked on is pending agreement with the local authorities. All reconstruction activities has been accompanied by the appropriate technical documentation and supervised by conservationists authorised by the Commission for the Protection of National Monuments. Working activities are envisaged on the following sites:

  1. Site preparation and reconstruction works along the course of the Bregava river bed, at the ancient watermills, and the town mill, and on the ancient system of watercourses and cisterns that used to provide the town and its gardens with water.
  2. Continued rehabilitation activities at the International Youth Centre for Cultural Heritage and Education at the Hadži Junuz-aga Mehmedbašić House in the Brade quarter of Stolac.
  3. Continued rehabilitation of the House of International Reconciliation and Dialogue (HIDR). In particular, there will be a focus on creating a traditional Bosnian herb and flower garden and orchards.
  4. Continued activities of cleaning on Bokulja cemetary.

Other locations are under discussion with the local authorities. Some locations have been determined with regard to the needs of the workshops. Each working group included 5 persons, including the group leader. This format has proved successful in previous years.

In order to support openness and to stimulate intercultural behaviour, young people and adults from Stolac been invited to join the working activities.

Forgotten Skills Workshops

   
The first Copper Art Workshop of Stolac; Second Stolac Carpet Making Workshop


Working activities are accompanied by practical workshops that introduce the participants to hands-on experience of traditional crafts and forgotten skills. These workshops help participants connect in a highly personal way with the texture of the past as lived experience. Participants are introduced to the nature of a craft or skill, how it functioned as a part of social life, and how it was imbued by the symbolism of the traditional world-view. Participants thus learn not just the basic skills involved in a given craft, but how to “read” their own cultural heritage and that of others from the inside and how to use it to enrich their own lives.

  
Fourth Woodcarving Workshop

In previous years, participants carved chests, furniture, and doors and made carpets for use in the buildings under restoration. Others provided much needed first aid to journal collections and archival materials of importance to the local history of Stolac.

Education

A number of more formal educational activities supplemented the practical aspects of the school. They included related lectures, seminars, and discussions on various aspects of the contemporary world, cultural heritage, the sources of conflict and the abuse of religious and ethnic identities, interfaith and intercultural dialogue and tolerance, democratic plurality and social cohesion, and the ways in which a critical encounter with the past can promote a deepening of modern ways of life. The participants have been introduced to traditionalist, anthropological, ecological, environmentalist, and conservationist approaches to recapturing the art of living. In particular, they considered the need for memory and the fair and balanced memorialisation of injustice for the purposes of reconciliation. A particular emphasis has been placed on the balance between personal, group, and institutional responsibility for social injustice and for social reconstruction.

These workshops have been led by experienced academics and activists. In previous years this has included committed academics from Sarajevo, France, Great Britain, the United States, as well as leading members of human rights organizations from Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia, and Great Britain.

While the list of topics is still under development, proposals include:

§         Cultural Memory: An Introduction to the Sites of Memory and Oral Traditions

§         Reading Cultural Heritage: On Symbolism and Social Meaningfulness

§         The Symbolism of Everyday Life: Home and Town as Ritual Spaces and as Contested Spaces

§         Contested Legacies: The Preservation and Reconstruction of Cultural Heritage in Bosnia and Herzegovina

§         Deconstructing Cultural Purity: Hybridism and Innovation

§         Deconstructing Religious Purity: Finding Commonalities and Identifying Differences

§         Religion and Violence: Resources for Pluralism within the Religious Traditions

§         Religion and Science: Some Religious Roots of Humanism and Atheism

§         Religion and Social Structure: Monotheism in the Network Age

§         Tolerance vs. Toleration: Ways of Encountering the Other

§         Whose Right? Truth and Justice vs. Perspectivism in History and Heritage

§         Deconstructing Ethnic Purity: Finding the Minority in Each of Us

§         Ecological Living: Becoming Part of our Environment

In this way, young participants are provided an opportunity to develop their understanding of and apply tolerance in discussion, while at the same time gaining a deeper understanding of their own background through discussion and solidarity with others. The educational component will also involve films, site visits, and exhibitions.

Recreation

Recreational activities are an integral part of the summer school programme. They included poetry readings, dancing, and music and form an extension to the educational aspects of the programme in order to promote community and fellow feeling. Participants have been invited to add their own suggestions. Their creativity has been rewarded.

As in previous years, a number of outings are also planned, for which transportation has been organized. Provisional day trips included:

§         Trebinje, Dubrovnik,

§         Međugorje, Mostar (Opening of  the Sixth International Conference on Unity and Plurality in Europe),

§         Mostar, Počitelj, Kravice.

Participants

Participants at the Sixth International Summer School on Youth and Heritage have been selected by means of a public invitation announced in January 2011. Young people between 17 and 27 years of age applied. All candidates completed the application form accompanying this document. The total number of participants was 30.

Participants had to cover their own travel costs to Stolac.

Staff involved in the programme worked on a voluntary basis.

Accommodation

 As in previous years, participants have been housed in four different locations:

1.      The Youth Centre for Cultural Heritage and Education,

2.      The Podgradski konak,

3.      The House of International Dialogue and Reconciliation,

4.      Private accommodation.

Meals

Meals are communal and served in local restaurant. The meals are prepared by a professional caterer. Pack lunches has been provided for field trips.

Schedule

The following provisional schedule has been drawn up:

Date/Hours

8.30-09.15

09:30-14:00

14.00-15.00

15.00-17.00

17.00-19.30

19.45-20.45

 21.00-22.30


Sunday

24th July

Arrivals & registration

Lunch

Organisation of the working groups including reconstruction site visits

Dinner

Contact Making Evening


Monday

25th July

Breakfast

Working sites

Lunch

Stolac Discovery Town Rally

Opening

Dinner

Official Opening Ceremony Brade House


Tuesday

26th July

Breakfast

Working sites

Lunch

Leisure time

Brade house

Dinner

Hang Out Time

Brade House

 


Interactive lectures

Amra Hadžimuhamedović “Education and Cultural Heritage”


Wednesday

27th July

Breakfast

Visit to Trebinje and Dubrovnik

Lunch package

Dinner


Thursday

28th July

Breakfast

Working sites

Lunch

Leisure time

HIDR

Dinner

Bosnian Evening

(Bosnian Coffee)

Brade House


Interactive lectures

Mile Babić “Tolerance and Plurality of Religion”


Friday

29th July

Breakfast

Working sites

Lunch

Leisure time

HIDR

Dinner

International Evening

Brade House


Muslim Praying Time

Rusmir Mahmutćehajić “Understanding of My Other as Myself”


Saturday 30th July

Breakfast

Working sites

Lunch

Leisure time

Brade house

Bosnian

Dinner in Stolac

Locco bar


Interactive lectures

Desmond Maurer

“The Symbolism of Everyday Life”


Sunday

31st July

Breakfast

Christian Praying time

Lunch

Visit to Međugorje

 

Visit to Mostar


Old Bridge diving

Lunch package

Opening of the 6th International Conference on Unity and Plurality in Europe


Monday

1st August

Breakfast

Working sites

Lunch

Leisure time

Location HIDR

Dinner

Interreligious Prayer

Brade House


Interactive lectures

Ivan Zvonimir Čičak “The Western Balkans and Human Rights”

 


Tuesday

2nd August

Breakfast

Working sites

Lunch

Leisure time

Brade house

Dinner

Poetry Evening

HIDR


Interactive lectures

Lejla Nakaš

”Bosnian Tombstones: Their Cyrillic Inscriptions and Their Symbolism“


Wednesday

3rd August

Breakfast

Lunch  package

HIDR

Dinner

Participants Performances

Brade House


Free day

Interactive lectures

Chris Agee “Traveling and Discovering the Human Realization”


Thursday

4th August

Breakfast

Working sites

Lunch

Leisure time

HIDR

Dinner

International

Quiz Night

HIDR


Interactive lectures

Paul Ballanfat “What is Europe?”


Friday

5th August

 

Breakfast

Working sites

 

Lunch

Interactive lectures

Amila Smajović ”Art of Bosnian Carpeting”

Dinner

Official Closing Ceremony

Brade House


Public school afternoon fare with international food, camp visit, project info, activities  (Brade House)


Muslim Praying Time


Saturday

6th August

Lunch

package

 

Visit to the Museum of Herzegovina

 

Visit to Počitelj (Old Town) and Kravice (waterfall)

 

 

Dinner

 


Sunday

7th August

Breakfast

Working sites

Closing ceremony

 

Lunch package

 

Departures


Christian Praying time


 
Follow up

Participants at International Summer School are expected to build long-lasting friendships, which it is hoped will be continue to grow in the future, as participants become involved in similar enterprises across the world. The organisers believe that the entire programme can be expanded and developed as an important contribution to developing new approaches, building tolerance, and increasing understanding between people from different cultures and religions. The implementation of School will be used to explore different possibilities and options for future continuation.


Reviews

Author: Nerin Dizdar

International Summer School „Youth and Heritage – Cuprija 2011" held in Stolac from July 23rd to August 8th, presents a significant step forward in comparison to five such projects implemented from 2006-2010. Simplicity of schedule, better organized non-programme related elements of the project (accommodation, food, and leisure time), and optimization of the number of participants, all contributed to having a relaxed, yet most efficiently completed 15 days of project implementation. Quality not being the issue, the main advantage of this year's project is that the quantity, organization and distribution of programme features and activities were modelled to meet both the needs and requirements of the participants and of the project itself, creating a necessary balance between the two.
The optimal number of participants in the school helped create a more sincere atmosphere of friendship and camaraderie. In order to further enhance this positive effect, in preparing future projects more activities including joint involvement of all participants should be anticipated, a remark also being made by several of the participants. The number of thirty participants also proved to be very effective in organizing and executing educational workshops since it is much easier to get the attention, cooperation and participation of 30 than of a larger number of students.

In regard to the public service activities, of the three sites where work was organized, the best effects seemed to be achieved at the location of the downtown mill. This is not only due to the great amount of visible work that was done, since positive change of state of the site is rather obvious, but it is also due to the fact that works were performed in the urban core of the town, resulting in interaction with the local population, too. The works on the mill, therefore, resulted in a positive response and support from the locals, as the location itself and the historical background in connection to the works made it most possible. Works on the HIDR (House of International Dialogue and Reconciliation) were also rather effective, especially when comparing the status of the location before to that after the development related to the execution of working activities organized within the school programme. Works on the Orthodox cemetery in Bokulja carried more of a symbolic value, and it presented completion of the cleaning activities which were left to be done from the year before.
The main feature of the traditional workshops is, to a great extent, more productive role and engagement of the students, especially in the carpet weaving and chalcography workshops, the later being a new feature of the school. The woodcarving workshop managed to sustain the high level of effectiveness and involvement, for which it had also been recognized in the previous years.
The afternoon educational workshops attracted great interest and participation of the participants. All speakers managed to instigate a debate with the participants on the given subject. As a consequence this resulted in workshops being much more interactive, where about 30-50% of the lecture time was consumed in this fashion. On the down side, after intensive morning and early afternoon labour, a number of especially younger participants found it hard to concentrate on the workshops the lasting time of which exceeded one and a half hour. The lectures which prompted greater involvement of the participants were those which evolved around more tangible and understandable topics and problems set forth in a simpler audio-visual form which the youth could relate to.
The organization of evening activities seemed to embody the idea by the organizers were lead in preparing it, being a combination of fun, relaxation and education. Simplicity and non-formal character of most of these features provided space for the participants to express their personalities, individual affinities, and openness. Not being overambitious in planning and executing seems to be the right formula for the casual evening events. Nevertheless, one of the evening events to be highlighted is the official opening ceremony of the school which attracted domestic audience as well.
Concerning other related factors, it must be stated that the practical solution of two great issues of the previous projects, accommodation and food, contributed to the commonly shared notion that this year's sixth summer school presents an upgrade of the previous ones. The reliability and quality of service in both of these segments to a large extent helped in preserving the orderliness and the steady course of the project. Nevertheless, criticism of some of the participants regarding lack of variety of meals, and occasional complaints on the insufficient quantity of meals should be addressed. In this respect, it is a valid argument that in the preparation of meals, involvement in on-field labour activities which requires intake of greater amount of calories must be taken into consideration.
Providing an overall assessment of the Sixth International Summer School "Youth and Heritage – Cuprija 2011", one general statement can be made, and that is that this year's project has shown that flexibility and devotion from all parties involved, inevitably lead to improved quality of the executed programme.

Author: Awlin Singh

The International Summer school, Cuprija, was held in Stolac between the 23rd July and the 8th August. This is the sixth successfully fulfilled summer school which has been consistently going on every summer since 2006. The different implementations in the school made it more simple to execute duties, implementations such as a relaxed schedule, good accommodation and food facilities and the number of participants reaching an number which was easier to interact with.
The number of participants of this year have contributed to a more open and relaxed environment, which has made it much easier to execute the different duties and workshops together. It has also given an opportunity for everybody to learn from each other's experiences.
The different workshops for this year have created a more diverse working atmosphere where it has been able to work and converse with each other in a way which may not have been possible in any other way. The carpet weaving workshop has been the most interesting of all the workshops.
The public services duties have been successfully executed in a manner which the physical changes in the different sites can be seen. The downtown river mill has been the most efficient work site due to the changes that have occurred through the construction of the site. The mill has also been a place in the public eye due to its location which has created a better and more helpful connection between the participants and the locals, which was felt during the work time and from the presence of the local youngsters and elders. The working site at the House of International Dialogue and Reconciliation (HIDR) has been of great importance for the participants work due to its future function for the town and the school. The work at the Orthodox cemetery in Bokulja has been more a symbolic value in such a way that it gave the participants various views and also created a more symbolic work experience. The afternoon educational workshops were of great interest, all the speakers managed to keep the level of attention on the top and all the participants were quite concentrated. All the subjects which the speakers spoke about were of large relevance and were heavily discussed during the evenings by the participants. The only issue during these educational workshops was that having an hard morning/noon at the work sites made the participants very exhausted which made it very difficult to concentrate.
During the 15 days of the school there were several trips made to various destinations places of significant value to the region. These trips contributed to show the participants different areas of the region and also show the diverse nature. The destinations included Mostar, Trebinje, Dubrovnik, Međugorje and a couple of more destinations. The visit to Mostar was a trip which was a great surprise, not due to the destination but more due to the beauty and history of the city.
The organizing of the evening activities was more in a relaxed and casual fashion which the participants enjoyed to a large amount. The different themes of the evenings brought the different participants closer and created a great friendship bond between them, especially between the International and the Bosnian participants. The goal with the evening activities were to generate more open communication between the participants were they could openly discuss various subjects and share each other views on different issues and subjects.
The only factor which was of criticism was the food. The meals received lots of complaints due to its lack of variety and the size. Having to be active during the whole day in such a hot weather with such small meals did not feel enough.

As a last statement I can say is that this year's Summer School "Cuprija-2011", was successfully completed and the project showed signs of great devotion from all which were involved. It has created many new views and also given a chance for the various participants to learn from each other. The summer school for me at a personal level made me more acknowledged about the people, town and the beauty of the area and gave me the opportunity to interact with such different and diverse group of people, such people which I shall try to obtain contact with into the coming future.  

Author: Wietske van der Want

The International Summer School "Youth and Heritage – Cuprija 2011" comprised a richly variated, interesting high quality program.
The Summer School program consisted of several activities. During the morning program participants worked on several outdoor sites in Stolac. The most rewarding and best site I thought, both for the participants and Stolac, was the watermill. The reconstruction of this mills was rewarding for the participants because we could immediately see the changes of the work we did and the progress we made. Besides from that there was also quite a lot of variation in the work at this site, we could for example cut bushes, carry stones and clean the river. Furthermore another advantage of this site was the interaction with the local population. Since the mill was located in the centre of the village many people walked by and saw that we were working and we noticed their interest and curiosity towards us and our activities. Continuing to work on this mill seems to me a very fruitful and rewarding activity for the summer schools in the following years.
The next part of the program consisted of traditional craft workshops. The first week we got the chance to briefly participate in different workshops. The second week we could take part in one craft workshop for one week. This gave us the opportunity to learn the basic technique of (in my case) traditional weaving. Although it was difficult to talk with our weaving teacher since she barely spoke any English, she was full of passion about her work and tried her best to explain us how to weave. In this aspect, a great advantage was the international mix of the group, Bosnian speakers could translate for the non-Bosnian speaking participants.
After the workshop we had lunch. The food, especially for a vegetarian like me was the only minus-point I would say of the whole Summer School. A lack of variation made it quite monotonous. Furthermore, especially after the physical outdoor work the prepared food was not enough.
After lunch we had free time until 17h, when a lecture started. The lectures where all very interesting and of high quality. You could feel the speakers where all engaged in their subjects and spoke with great enthusiasm. Especially the lectures about Stolac, Bosnia and heritage interested me the most. There where theoretical frameworks met with daily life practics I enjoyed and learned the most. I am still moved when I think of the lectures about the history and development of Stolac. The personal experiences of lectures and people involved in the Summer School made it for me a very valuable experience and a great privilege to participate in this school. During the evenings several activities to interact and to get to know each other and each others countries of origin where organized. These activities where low profile, and relaxed. I felt it was good that participation of all participants was required, but at the same time participants didn´t have to invest too much to participate actively and contribute to games and speeches of the evening program. Besides from this daily schedule we had several field trips. Amongst others to Dubrovnik and Mostar. During the field trips we had leisure time to visit the towns. The time we had in the different towns was quite short and it would have been nice to spent a bit longer in them to discover a bit more, and not having to haste to get to the bus again which was now sometimes the case.
Concluding I would like to state again that I experienced the International Summer School "Youth and Heritage – Cuprija 2011" as a very good, interesting Summer School which comprised a richly variated, high quality program. The meeting with Stolac, local youth and passionate organizers was extremely valuable for me. It showed that in order to rebuild trust and respect amongst people we need to approach others as equal and respectful as ourselves. Basic notions, such as human dignity, which I in daily life hardly think about came to the surface and I became immediately aware of their value for everybody. Therefore I feel the history of Stolac and the struggle the organizers of the Summer School and the people of Stolac have to regain and restore the dignity of all of them, and of their heritage which is taken from them is a struggle for everyone, not only for Stolac. It is something that I feel I took with me from the School and I hope more participants did. I feel very privileged that I had the opportunity to participate in this School. I would like to thank all the people that organized and participated in the school for the great work they did and hope continue to do and for the immense openness and hospitality to share their stories with others.

 Author: Aarif Sarigat

 

The Sixth International Summer School "Youth and Heritage – Cuprija 2011" was the third School which I have had the privilege of attending and it was encouraging to observe that this year's School had built upon the success of previous years.

A primary aim of the School (as I understand it) is to build tolerance among young people from different backgrounds by instilling in participants a great understanding of the diversity and plurality of world cultures. I believe that the integrated project providing seminars, fieldwork, practical excursions and recreational activities is comprehensive and very effective at attempting to meet the objectives of the School.

The Seminars

I thought that the focus of the Seminars, on issues of identity and integration (in the European context), globalization, cultural and religious prejudice, and dialogue/reconciliation, were very appropriate and very stimulating. The lectures which were short, clearly structured and well reasoned (for instance, Rusmir Mahmutcehajic's or Mile Babic's lectures) were very well received by all participants; the audience was engaged and actively participated with many probing and challenging questions. It was also heartening to see that both the younger and older participants felt that the subject matter was not so technical so as to leave them confused by the time the lecture had ended! Some of the lectures were slightly too abstract for some of the participants (for instance, Paul Ballanfat's lecture); perhaps it being overly technical but I found it very stimulating and older participants who had previously considered some of the issues he explored also agreed. A couple of lectures were not well structured and, therefore, it was difficult to ascertain the message they were trying to convey and they had run out of time before they got to their conclusions; participants also, unfortunately, had run out of patience and concentration by this stage! However, I had thought that the intended subject matter of all the lectures was very apt and very relevant to the participants and it was excellent to see the variety of topics and speakers. The Seminars helped to ensure that participants were challenged, and an avenue was created for them to discuss and debate issues which were contentious and complex (and crucial for attempting to meet the aims of the project).

It would be great to see that this element of the School retained and built upon as it is the one area where participants can really acquire new knowledge as well as have their existing views challenged and tested by reasoned debate.

Fieldwork and workshops

The fieldwork and workshops were excellent at this year's School and it was great to see participants being given the opportunity to try all the avaiblable activities at least once. The traditional arts (woodcarving, chalcography and carpet-weaving) workshops were excellent at demonstrating to participants that old knowledge could be rediscovered and traditional arts reintroduced (particularly in a place like Stolac given the extent of its destruction during the war). Although the shortness of time prevented a real, substantive instruction in the traditional arts, all of the participants, I believe, received a true appreciation for the value of the work and the effort required to create beautiful works of art through sustained effort and earnest application.

The fieldwork, concentrating on building at the House of International Reconciliation and Dialogue (HIDR House), the restoration of the Watermill Site near Konak, and the restoration of the Orthodox cemetery, was very well organised. The large number of participants assisting at the Watermill Site made work efficient and productive; especially where good instruction and direction was provided by the team leaders working at the site. There was a good sense of camaraderie and good humour to make the work enjoyable. Participants were encouraged to see the fruits of their labour and it was very encouraging to see locals stop by and look at the substantial work being done. I believe this visible and productive work being conducted by participants from all across Bosnia (and other parts of the world) at the Watermill Site and HIDR House would have helped a great deal to convey a message of unity in diversity and strength in plurality (helping to bridge the current estrangement between 'religious' groups in Stolac).

One aspect of the fieldwork that a few participants were not keen on seeing was the splitting of the groups along male and female lines and I would concur with this. Whilst the division may have been useful at some of the sites which required strong physical labour (of which some of the men were obviously more capable) it would have been fairer and better to have provided participants with a choice as to which sites they would have preferred to work even if that had meant achieving the same result and separation.

Practical excursions and recreational activities

The practical excursions were welcomed by the participants and provided some respite and time to get to know the other participants better. The recreational activities were less well structured (and, perhaps, I felt, a little neglected) than in previous years but the somewhat more relaxed evenings provided time to rest.

As a suggestion, perhaps having a few more evenings which are better structured and organised in advance would help participants gain a real appreciation for Bosnian culture and heritage. International participants who had not visited the School before may have felt a little under whelmed by some of the evenings which have either not changed from previous years or were conducted at short notice with little preparation. I think the poetry evening, the inter-religious prayer, and the Bosnian evening could have benefited perhaps from more preparation (giving participants more notice and helping them to prepare the best which they can offer) or even invite some external artists/performers./speakers as in previous years. It would also have been nice to see more involvement from locals (from all strata of society) to attend some of the events so they could appreciate the work being done to encourage cultural understanding and dialogue.

In addition, the more relaxed evenings (than in previous years) also meant that the evenings felt more fragmented in that participants went their separate ways (doing their 'own thing'). Whilst this created a more open environment I felt some participants may have felt excluded or left out and perhaps having a slightly more structured evening would have encouraged greater cohesiveness and togetherness. On the flip side, everyone was very pleasant at the School and everyone tried to make an effort to include as many people as possible in activities when spending their free time (although a little more could have been done in this respect).

General observations

I felt the School as a whole worked really well. There were a good number of participants (around 30) which meant everyone got to know each other well; participants were also able to work effectively together given that the groups were small enough to manage well and organise effectively. There were also a number of international participants (of all religious persuasions) who actively participated in the School which was very refreshing to see.

As many participants observed, one aspect of the School which was striking was the lack of a significant presence of Orthodox or Catholic Christians (who were actually from BiH) in the School and this no doubt will hinder one of the overriding objectives of the IFB in the 'creation of a future for Bosnia and Herzegovina as a harmonious and united society'. Extending invitations for the School to a wider religious base would, I think, help both international participants in appreciating that members of different religious groups can work together (and move beyond inter-religious 'dialogue') and also ensure that future generations of Bosnians (and Herzegovenians) can create networks to ensure a sustainable, unified BiH. However, I can appreciate that there could be significant barriers to actually securing the attendance of Christians within BiH (despite extending invitations) due to numerous pressures beyond the control of the organisers.

Finally, concerning practical and administrative matters two issues which always leave participants with plenty to comment on is the food and accomodation. The accomodation this year was excellent as it was in the traditional houses that have been restored over the years (and I had not heard any complaints from participants). The food, however, having spoken to many participants, was not seen very favourably. Previous participants had said the the food at the previous Schools was much better and, I guess, I would concur in that the food was more healthy, wholesome and traditional. Whilst it was not a huge personal concern for me I believe that provision of traditional, healthy, wholesome Bosnian food can only complement and add to the ethos/aims of the School. I think provision of the School's food by the restuarant, which may have been adminisitratively easier, lost that element of wholeness and tradition (with mere provision of a number of plates of food being the sole concern). Perhaps, reverting to the provision of food as in previous years (with more involvement of participants to ease the burden on the cooks) may be the optimal solution!

Concluding thoughts

In conclusion, the Sixth International Summer School "Youth and Heritage – Cuprija 2011" has been a marked improvement on the School's held in Stolac over the years and its successful execution demonstrates a continuing evolution of many years of hard work. Like minded people from the Balkans and around the world have come together, I believe, to move someway towards building on the aims and objectives of the IFB; a future for BiH as a harmonious, united society based on dialogue, trust and respect. The School has also had a wider impact in creating a strong spirit of cultural exchange and meaningful dialogue. I have no doubt that in time, and with continuing improvement, this endeavor will reap great rewards and help foster diverse, understanding and rich societies in the countries of the School's participants.

 

od 01.01.2011.
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