Personally, I’m not sure if going to Bosnia would be an enjoyable study abroad opportunity, but it would certainly be unique. When I think “study abroad”, places like London, Spain, and Italy come to mind. Those are the places “everybody goes”, the programs, itineraries, and lodging at these destinations have been set, executed, and repeated for years at JMU and other institutions.
This is why the discussion of the SMAD travel abroad program is a perfect way to kick off our blog; after all, we will specialize in, “off the beaten path”.
Bosnia is a country in the “Balkans”, the geographic area in southeastern Europe leading up to the Greek peninsula. It borders Serbia and Croatia. It is actually officially called Bosnia and Herzegovina, after the regions it occupies.
It is comprised of ethnically Bosnian, Serbian, and Croatian peoples, originating from their namesakes.
What makes this particular program unique is the position that Bosnia finds itself in. It is a post-conflict country, regaining stability after a war between the various ethnicities. This war, which concluded in 1996, was caused by disagreements on how to divide the former Yugoslavia (which contained Bosnia and it’s neighbors). Not only was this war devastating to the new country’s infrastructure, but to it’s population as well, causing the most civilian displacement since World War II.
These are the issues that the SMAD program wishes to cover.
“This program is designed for students who have an interest in social issue documentary filmmaking as well as those interested in exploring the role media plays in post conflict societies” says the informational pamphlet.
The students will attend film festivals, workshops, presentations, and will conclude with the creation of a short documentary film.
But according to the itinerary creating documentaries is not the only aspect of this program.
Students will be involved with the “WSA-Franco Bettoli Center Youth Camp”, an organization that hopes to improve the living conditions of Bosnia’s youth, and educate them on peaceful conflict resolution. A concept desperately needed in that country.
This is not a trip for those students who simply want to have a good time. It seems intellectually and emotionally taxing.
It is lead by SMAD assistant professor Shaun Wright.