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Letters from Mostar

A collective ethnographic exercise by the young people of Mostar and beyond….

Ana

By Lejla

I’m happy because I met this interesting girl, Ana. Ana is a very social person and loves everything about humans. We can tell from her very kind character that she loves to talk with people, meet them, and share her story with them. Her hobby is dancing, and besides dancing, Ana loves to knit and cross stitch. Mostar is important for her because her family lives in Mostar, and she misses them. She misses Mostar because it’s her hometown. She says she misses “the old Ana.” Her friends and her want to know how she will be after she changes. While we’re talking about changes I want to emphasize that she cut her hair and donated it to a cause.

A lot of things have changed but she loves “new Ana”, the new “campus” environment which means a lot to her. She said that it is her second home. Ana loves people on campus. They are like her second family. Although she loves Mostar, she loves to switch places and to meet new cultures.

What is the definition of Ana? For me Ana is a person who is full of life, happiness, and I think Ana will be young even when she is older, because youth is in her spirit. She will always return to Mostar as a migrating bird (swallow).

For me she is a brave person. She isn’t afraid of life, she lives without rules, freely and happily without judgment. For her physical appearance (beauty) isn’t important, and she hates when people only think about it. More important things for her are to be clean and healthy. She thinks that she must eat less pizza. Ana loves pizza so she just keeps eating pizza. Ana has small, cute eyes but she doesn’t like her slanted eyes but I think it makes her cuter.

In the end she loves all subjects, she loves to learn some new stuff, and Ana thinks that knowledge is never enough. And she shakes hands as an indication of agreement. It’s a thing she learned at UWC which makes it easier to show approval without interrupting the speaker. I know I wrote a bit more about her but she is so interesting so I can write more and more .

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Matea

By Kenichi

“Možeš žaliti samo za stvarima koje nikad nisi probao.” In the local language this means, “You can feel regret only about things you never try.” It happens to be a motto of one of the most unique individuals here at MSYP.

It is difficult to find words to describe Matea as she seems to be shrouded by much mystery. But over the past few weeks I have come to know Matea as an extraordinarily creative, curious, and above all a caring citizen from the beautiful city of Mostar.

When you first meet Matea, you will find that she is typically adorned by fascinating, handmade dreamcatchers. Although she will say that these ornaments have no profound significance, in reality, the dreamcatchers seem to symbolize Matea’s desire to capture ideas and inspiration from all around her.

While Matea may say that she has few concrete dreams and goals, that is simply because she is looking for a place where she can truly thrive. Here in Mostar, her open-mindedness and appreciation for new ideas and people are constantly clashing with traditional views.

In my mind, she is following the intrepid path of Coelho’s The Alchemist, which happens to be Matea’s personal favorite. Matea will be the first to admit that she’s nervous about leaving Mostar and beloved friends for pastures new. But there is little doubt in my mind that nothing could curb her innate adventurism, because “when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

Adnan

By Azra

In the beginning I want to introduce the young people of Mostar. The youth of Mostar are part of community which want changes, better living conditions. They live in a bit difficult situation, between religious differences, but in the same time, they are trying to break these limits.

I’m pleased to have met Adnan, a friendly young man who lives in that surrounding. For him, Mostar is the city in which all his friends live, all people he loves. Also, he feels sorry about what happened to these people in the city during the war. He realizes that two nations try to live together, but there are lots of conflicts between them. He thinks that Mostar is the victim, because of all the ruins around the city, but people try to rebuilding them, but we are slowing down each other. Adnan is a communicative person, always willing to talk, but sometimes very impulsive. He is smart and he looks older than he is.

From my interview I found out that he likes music and movies, and also that he is good at painting. Adnan likes making jokes, but in serious situations he tries to be serious. He has dark hair and dark brown eyes, and he is so tall for his age. Something that is so interesting is that during the interview we realized that his right ear is bigger than left. At the end he learned me some moves in kickboxing. I’m glad to have talked with Adnan, it was my pleasure.

Adna

By Ana.

One of the greatest indications of Adna’s character is her incongruity with the stereotypical Mostar youth culture. She likes to stand out from the crowd through her everyday life. She used to hide her curly hair, but now she proudly wears it down while recognizing that it is distincitve and special.  Adna emphasizes that going out is often not as important to her as it is to read a good book or watch a nice movie as it is for plenty of her peers. She says she also differs from the mainstreem youth by her music taste. She prefers rock, whereas most of her peers listen to turbo-folk music. She finds it quite disappointing that the society supresses any kind of individuality and originality by looking down upon it.

On the other hand, there are certain aspects of her culture that she enjoys. She likes the relaxed environment which completely tolerates running late and encourages drinking coffee in a cafe for a long time. At the same time, she understands that some things would work better with stricter rules, as example laws, which are not followed by the social norm.

She wishes to leave Mostar, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, mainly because she doesn’t have good employment opportunities here. She would like to move to New Zealand, as a true Lord of Rings fan. Her disapproval of certain aspects of Mostar culture, also contribute to her desire to live abroad. Beside good employment opportunities, she expects greater tolerance for different religions.

A basic … very basic! look into ethnography …

“I want to understand the world from your point of view. I want to know what you know in the way you know it. I want to understand the meaning of your experience, to walk in your shoes, to feel things as you feel them, to explain things as you explain them. Will you become my teacher and help me understand?” ― James P. Spradley

Ethnography is the basic and most fundamental research method in Anthropology. It attempts to describe the culture of those who are different from us, in order to explain it and understand it. Ethnography follows an inductive logic, it explains the larger culture of a group through the particular experiences of those who are part of that culture. It demands the ethnographer to step outside their comfort zone, following Malinowski’s idea: “to judge something, you have to be there.”

As ethnographers, we want to learn from the culture of the “others” through their experience and not from the single stories produced about them. In order to do so… we need to put “our selves” aside, we need to stand under, in order to understand the other.

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