VII Academy Celebrates Bosnia and Herzegovina Youth Leadership

During the turbulent year of 2020/21, VII Academy Sarajevo worked with the next generation of civic leaders in Bosnia and Herzegovina, supporting them on their path of community change making and active citizenship.

Thirty young writers, artists, and community organizers engaged with BOLD, a youth leadership initiative created and supported by the US Embassy in Bosnia and Herzegovina and implemented through VII Academy, Sarajevo, to encourage change, social dialogue and new thinking throughout the country. BOLD participants from all over Bosnia and Herzegovina received training in narrative and documentary practice and civic activism by VII Academy trainers as well as professors from Harvard and Northeastern Universities in the United States. With initial training beginning in February 2020, some of the best and brightest of the country’s young activists were quick to move their projects and engagements online when the pandemic hit. The new regulations and current global situation did not discourage participants from continuing their BOLD projects via online platforms. The situation gave them the push they needed in order to recognize how they can contribute to the community. The dedication, creativity and innovation of VII Academy BOLD project students resulted in project creation and financial support for five BOLD project ideas.

At the VII Academy BOLD project closing ceremony at the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo, operations manager Hasnija Zulić welcomes everyone. ©Nikola Blagojević

“VII Academy brought together journalists and academics, some local and some from the United States, to teach groups of BOLD students how journalistic principles and media communication skills can be used to highlight contemporary social issues. The BOLD students then identified issues that were important to them, and the VII Academy leadership team worked with them to prepare their proposals and pitches to apply for micro grants from the US Embassy. Emphasising ethics, collaboration and a participatory approach, the workshop teachers taught fact-based writing, photography, and multimedia storytelling as the vehicles for outreach into the community,” says Hasnija Zulić, Operations Manager of VII Academy Sarajevo.

The love tales of couples of different nationalities; migrant workers, refugees and asylum seekers; women’s rights and voices; positive human stories from our community; and access to art for the visually impaired and blind are the projects and topics that the BOLD grantees focused on.

“The five BOLD micro grant projects were awarded to the following women: Hana Sokolovic, Azra Berbic, Ivana Nevesinjac, Ivana Pekusic and Anesa Agovic. They all had to think creatively about how to implement the project goals safely in the time of a pandemic. The project leaders grew in their roles and tackled challenges head on while also having the security of a support structure to turn to for advice. It was exciting to watch these five young women adapt their ideas as things changed around them and to see their leadership skills in action, skills we we hope to see develop further for the future benefit of our country,” stated Mrs. Zulić.

BOLD projects have appeared on-line, in print publications, as street art and in five short films produced by Fiona Turner that premiered at the recent closing reception.

30 mladih pisaca, umjetnika i aktivista  učestvovalo je u BOLD projekt, inicijativa za podršku liderstva mladih koju je kreirala i finansijski podržala Američka Ambasada u BiH, a implemetirala je VII Akademije u Sarajevu, upravo kako bi se potaknule promjene, socijalni dijalog i novo razmišljanje u cijeloj zemlji. Njihova predanost, kreativnost i inovativnost su prepoznati, i rezultirali su financijskom podrškom za pet BOLD projektnih ideja.

Girl Talk

Hana Sokolović’s project called ‘Girl Talk’ (‘Ženske Priče’) gives women a platform to talk about who they are, while offering a platform for society to listen, learn and accept. As part of this project, Hana and her team published interviews about women’s experiences that are barely talked about in BIH society, and provided commentary by mental health experts as well as analysis of women’s rights in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Projekat Hane Sokolović pod nazivom “Ženske priče” daje platformu ženama da govore o onome što jesu, a društvu  platformu da sluša, uči i prihvata.  U sklopu ovog projekta, Hana i njen tim objavili su intervjue o ženskim iskustvima o kojima se u BiH društvu jedva govori, ali su pružili i komentare stručnjaka za mentalno zdravlje kao i analizu ženskih prava u Bosni i Hercegovini.

Love Tales

“Love Tales” is a multimedia and artistic initiative that documents stories about successful romantic relationships of people of different ethnicities in BIH and to break the narrative that such relationships are non-existent and unsustainable in the current social order. Azra Berbić as the project leader, as well as her team at The Post-Conflict Research Center (PCRC), believe that this is a unique way to break down the prejudices and stereotypes that people in BIH have about interethnic romantic relationships.

Priče o ljubavi” multimedijalna je i umjetnička inicijativa stvorena s ciljem dokumentiranja priča o uspješnim romantičnim vezama ljudi različitih etničkih grupa u BiH i razbijanja naracije da takvi odnosi ne postoje i nisu održivi u trenutnom društvenom poretku. Azra Berbić, voditeljica projekta, kao i njen tim, vjeruju da je ovo jedinstven način za razbijanje predrasuda i stereotipa koje ljudi u BiH imaju o međunacionalnim romantičnim vezama.

Stories about Home and Migration

“Stories about Home and Migration” is a project led by Ivana Nevesinjac. Her team’s goal was to change the public perception of migrants and refugees by telling their stories through literature from their countries of origin, and through photographs of their everyday life in BIH.

Priče o domu i migraciji“ jedan je od podržanih projekata s Ivanom Nevesinjac kao voditeljicom projekta. Ovim projektom Ivana i njen tim imali su za cilj promijeniti percepciju javnosti o migrantima i izbjeglicama pričajući njihove priče kroz literaturu iz zemalja porijekla i kroz fotografije njihovog svakodnevnog života u BiH.

Good News

Anesa Agović and her “Good News” team created a media platform called Našapozitiva in order to provide media space to the youth of Bosnia and Herzegovina to publish their positive stories, an initiative aimed at encouraging positive change. In addition to the media platform itself, this project encourages young people to get involved in social activism, be drivers of positive change and show other young people that it is possible to change society for the better.

Anesa Agović i njen projekat “Dobre vijesti” imaju za cilj stvaranje medijske platforme pod nazivom Naš, kako bi se mladima u Bosni i Hercegovini pružio medijski prostor, na kojem bi bile objavljivale njihove pozitivne price kao i inicijative usmjerene na podsticanje pozitivnih promjena. Pored same medijske platforme, ovaj projekt imao je za cilj potaknuti mlade ljude da se uključe u društveni aktivizam, budu pokretači pozitivnih promjena i pokažu ostalim mladim ljudima da je moguće promijeniti društvo na bolje.

Tactile Mural

The “Tactile Mural” project created by Ivana Pekušić deals with the adaptation of art to the blind and visually impaired population. In the garden of the History Museum of BIH (Historijski Muzej BiH), Ivana and her team created a raised-relief mural accompanied by an audio description, and built it in an accessible place so that blind and visually impaired people can feel and experience this form of art.

Projekt „Taktilni mural“ kojeg je kreirala Ivana Pekušić bavi se prilagođavanjem umjetnosti slijepoj i slabovidnoj populaciji. U vrtu Historijskog muzeja BiH, Ivana i njen tim napravili su reljefni mural, sa audio opisom i na pristupačnom mjestu kako bi slijepe i slabovidne osobe mogle osjetiti i doživjeti ovaj oblik umjetnosti.