Fourteen consecutive years of International School Youth & Heritage and organization of numerous internationally recognized projects are the results of the dedicated work of the International Forum Bosna team. What can be noticed when one reads the program of the School at first is that the main concept that attracts youth from all over the world to the School is unity in diversity presented in the example of rich Bosnian culture and tradition which have been recognized through centuries as religiously and culturally plural.
Some of the most prominent scholars of the age such as Dr. Gareth Jones (The University of Hong Kong) and Dr. Sayyed Hossein Nasr (George Washington University) state that Bosnia represents a unique example of living religious pluralism, living tradition in modern age despite all terrifying events that it went throughout its long history.
After successfully organized 14th International Summer School, we use this occasion to talk with Tarik Čengić one of the managers of the School who has been working on the development of the School last fourteen years together with Nermina Ahatović and Derviš Muhamedović under supervision of Prof. Dr. Mahmutćehajić. When he speaks of the reasons for working on the School project he emphasizes his personal connection with the idea of renewal of Bosnian society after the war at the beginning of the ‘90s.
“I chose this as a way to contribute to the development and renewal of society. At first, I started to work as a volunteer and scout. And later on, it has been developed into an idea that I advocate every day because that has become a part of me.”
Also, when Tarik speaks about the reasons why he has chosen to develop the School he notes that throughout the School he has managed to realize the heritage of Bosnian tradition as a personal heritage.
“This may relate to finding and knowing myself because throughout the School I realized what I can achieve as an individual and I have understood what each person’s values are. Also, I have come to know my cultural and historical heritage and I look at it now with great awareness.”
Throughout the last fourteen years, the School has brought together 300 students from 40 countries all over the world, it hosted around fifty lectures, workshops that were led by prominent lecturers in the field of natural, social and humanistic sciences, business and public life. The workshops that students go through a range from learning different subjects and skills in the fields of culture, philosophy, history, geography, soft skills as well as oral tradition and traditional crafts. However, the most memorable experiences are the experiences of rebuilding the destroyed cultural heritage of the City of Stolac.
“So far, participants have been the most thrilled to be able to take part in rebuilding a destroyed cultural heritage, break prejudices about the other and different people, meet new and different people from different countries, learn about different cultures, religions and customs, learn different skills and forgotten craft skills and much more. Also, the participants have been impressed by the fact that during the Summer School they actively participate, work and contribute in a way that their contribution remains visible in the form of a renewed heritage and cultural and historical buildings.”
While Tarik reflects on success of the last fourteen editions of the School and all progress that has been done in the organization, logistics and development of the program, hopes for the future are bright and realistic. In the near future, the School shall become a summer university that will provide students with skills, knowledge and empowerment to become keepers of cultural heritage.
“The Summer School is intended to be a long-term project and should remain so. Every day the accommodation conditions for the participants are better. In the coming period, this project will be shaped in the form of a summer student university that will provide young people with the opportunity to practice and receive educational training about cultural heritage. Accordingly, the conditions for the stay and education of several dozen participants have been created. Also, the additional work will be done to enrich the current program and broaden the range of educational activities.”
As it has been mentioned, the School has played a significant role in the reconstruction of the City of Stolac which is known for its rich history that goes back several thousand years back in history. The main task that the School was focused throughout the summer school was to preserve the authenticity of all reconstructed objects. Also, the voice of the School and Bosnian youth with the support of their colleagues from all over the world is spread globally and year by year Stolac and the region become a center for youth to learn about the heritage and to find new innovative ideas in the modern age.
“Stolac is a city that has been completely destroyed and torn down. Today, there is hardly any socially, historically and culturally significant building that hasn’t been renovated without the support of the Summer School program or initiated by the International Forum Bosnia. Therefore, the project of the City reconstruction was of great importance for the whole region. It is primarily because it has been the only one of its kind in the whole area. The project was something new and it has given all people faith in a better tomorrow and a belief that they can live there. The impact of Summer School is visible today all over the world because all participants who went through brought with themselves positive experiences and they spread positive energy that attracts new people with new ideas about youth, heritage and much more.”
(Photo: International Summer School Stolac)