Snowfall in Sarajevo. As I ride into the historical district of the city, my driver seems to be apologizing for just about everything. He apologizes for the unexpected snow storm that swept across the valley. He apologizes for the traffic which has congested the road into the city. He apologizes for the fact that I am not able to see the city before the war. “Everything has changed,” he tells me. “But I can’t – I have to. I still love my city. I still love Sarajevo.” I hesitate but I carefully ask him what are the changes that he’s talking about; what are the fundamental changes he has seen in his lifetime.
Storytelling should be and is an integral component of peacebuilding in a post-conflict regions; the narratives of individuals are crucial in humanizing statistics – in truly understanding the experience during and the aftermath of war. As a content and journalism intern at the Post-Conflict Research Center (PCRC), I hope to write articles, using storytelling, to shed light on the lives of migrants settling in the Western Balkans, specifically economic migrants.
Understanding the motivations of why foreign migrants choose to settle in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) may answer a number of questions. What are the greater implications of the arrival of economic migrants? Do they symbolize recovery (economic, social, and political) after conflict? Could they be physical manifestation of international interests (China’s investments in BiH and Chinese migrants)? After my introduction to the PCRC this week, I know that I am working with truly a world class organization which will help me answer these questions.