Summer Activites in Southeast Europe Part II: YES Alumni Bosnia & Herzegovina

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By Nino Lojpur, Alumni Coordinator for Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Dzenana Brkic ’12

Participants in “Odmor od rata – izhradnja mira” (“War Relief – Building Peace”), a youth summer camp held in Sombor, Serbia, pose for a group photo.

What were alumni in Bosnia and Herzegovina up to over the summer?  Omar Asceric ’12 attended “Kako odlucivati i djelovati u Omladinskoj Banci Tuzla” (“How to decide and participate in Youth Bank Tuzla”) from July to September.  He also volunteered at the Tuzlanske Zajednice Foundation, an NGO whose primary goal is spreading support for democratic development, and attended a youth camp in Sombor, Serbia called “Odmor od rata – izhradnja mira” (“War Relief – Building Peace”).

Participants in the AIESEC National Leadership Conference pose for a group photo.

Ema Drnda ’10, Irina Goronja ’10, and Nino Lojpur ’10 attended the AIESEC BiH NatCo, National Leadership Conference, and attended workshops on project management and leadership skill building.

Dzenana Brkic ’12 began volunteering in her school for students with impaired vision upon her return to Bosnia. She is teaching English language classes 3 times per week.  Here is what Dzenana has to say about her activities:

Dzenana Brkic ’12 leads an English lesson for elementary school students at a school for visually impaired students in Sarajevo.

When I returned to Bosnia, I knew I would do some volunteer projects.  I decided to start an English club, because I had some free time.  First, I asked our high-school principal for the permission to do it. He was enthusiastic about it.  I talked to the English teacher and she said that she would ask kids from the middle and the high school to participate. After a few days, she gave me a list of kids that would like to learn some more English.  There were not a lot of kids wanting to give away their free time, but I was still so happy to start teaching – because teaching was always something I wanted to do in my life.

I had three kids from fifth grade at the middle school and about ten students from high school.  I scheduled them in three groups, which means three English lessons per week.  I have three awesome groups of students.  I enjoy working with little kids so much!  They are full of will to learn, to sing, to read English. There are some students in high school that are afraid to talk in English, but I’m trying to encourage them.  I can say I’ve made some progress in doing it. The little kids are so cute because they call me ‘professor Dzenana.’

What do I do in these classes?  With little kids, I try to take some lessons they do in the regular English classes and tell them to read them aloud and translate.  Also, we have covered some songs from their book, and so on.  I’m glad that I also have their English book in Braille so I can follow them while they read and correct them where needed.

With high school students, I started the first class by asking them what they wanted to do. They said that they would like to learn English grammar, to translate some songs from English to Bosnian and to learn more vocabulary.  Communication was one of the things I wanted to cover, so I took a student who knows English well and said that he/she will translate what I’m saying in English. I’m glad that it’s going pretty well, and students like it, too.

I have some lessons on my computer about different subjects (sports, foods, holidays, music, etc.) that we do. We listen to the lesson, write unknown words, and talk about the lesson afterwards.  When we translated the song “Every Breath You Take” by Sting, the students were thrilled because we were singing that song in choir this year.  So we sang, translated and had so much fun!

What I plan to do more with all of these students is to improve their vocabulary so that they can communicate more in English.  I know, when you’re a beginner, it’s really hard to talk.  For me, it was hard to start. But, once you’ve started to talk in English, it becomes easier with every conversation you make.