Behind the scenes of ICDO’s ‘Bosnia and Herzegovina Project ‘ in Grude

By Viktoria Strejc

In April 2019 ICDO executed the next phase of the project ‘Bosnia and Herzegovina’. Here’s a look behind the scenes of the project.

Thursday, April 4, 6:00 am – it was way too early to be awake, but the ICDO team members were boarding the bus to Zagreb. We were all so excited about our time in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and finally getting to meet the participants. For most of us, it was our very first time there.

The ICDO team on the way to Zagreb.

When we arrived in Zagreb, the ICDO team had lunch in a traditional Croatian restaurant, then faced a further 500km on the road. Upon our arrival late in the evening, we were immediately surprised by the warm and welcoming hospitality, despite our hungry and tired expressions.

For the next day, our panel discussion ‘Securing the Future of Society by Safeguarding Cultural Diversity’ was scheduled. After a great breakfast, participants from the three schools (Grude, Jablanica, and Trebinje) arrived. Brunch was prepared for them, and we had some time to get to know students before the symposium. We were stunned by the excitement and openness the students met us with. It didn’t take us long (but of course, food comes first) to engage them in conversation and interviews. We were able to easily encourage them to talk about cultural diversity for the camera. Their words left us speechless.

The young people, between the ages of 16 and 18, spoke powerful words that touched us. High school kids, telling the world why cultural diversity is important. Their experiences and thoughts impressed all of us. They showed us how much this whole project meant to them, and how much they appreciated an opportunity to voice their opinions.

Never has it been more obvious to us how important our work is. We were a group of four girls from Austria, Germany, and Ukraine, all relatively new to the ICDO team, truly experienced how we can create achievements and contribute to a better future.

During the panel discussion, we were listened to interesting expert opinions on the future and importance of cultural diversity. The students and teachers contributed to a lively post-panel discussion with the experts.

This was an incredible experience for us and we learned first hand the importance of our work.

This was a truly special day to all of us. We saw how all the preparations in a rooftop office in Vienna finally paid off. We experienced first hand how important what we do is. The excitement, passion, and courage that the students showed inspired us.

After a lot of hard work the next day, we earned an afternoon of sightseeing and getting to know the country a little better. A lot of good food and beautiful landscape – on the only day it was actually sunny – made up for all the rain. Kinda.

What did we like most about our trip?

Hospitality

One of the things that struck us the most was how extremely friendly, polite, and welcoming everyone was towards us. We would definitely love to come back to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The passion of our participants

We were all relatively new to ICDO and therefore didn’t participate in the first phase of the project in Trebinje. We didn’t know what to expect. Even if we had had expectations, though, they would all have been exceeded greatly.

The powerful impact of our work

Truth be told, when you’re sitting in the office planning a project you can’t really estimate how deeply it’s going to affect you. But in Grude, we experienced how much we are able to contribute to creating a better future. We saw that our hard work made a change in the world. By making teenagers the target of this project, we were able to help guide this generation towards a more inclusive, respectful, and accepting world.

What did we not like?

The rain. ☔️☔️ We just got unlucky weather-wise. But we had one sunny day that we made the most of with an enjoyable trip to Mostar.