During the winter semester members of the Students' Association of Faculty of Education (SAFE) at the International Burch University have designed and successfully implemented the project entitled Celebrating cultural diversity in Sarajevo.
International Burch University is a home for students from thirty different countries with distinct cultures. Each student, in his own way, adds to the cultural diversity of the Burch University. Diversity at Burch is treated as a cultural treasure, and definitely not as a problem. Being introduced to and befriending people from different cultures, students of International Burch University have the opportunity to learn skills for a successful communication and cooperation with those who are culturally different from them. Studying in this environment, students have recognized the benefits of international and intercultural experience, noted the value of accepting and promoting diversity, and realized many of the satisfactions brought by the intercultural experience.
Problems of cultural differences that cause disastrous consequences all over the world, and that result in accidents and human losses every day encouraged the student association SAFE to think about a way to make the world a better place for life, to eliminate discrimination and promote tolerance, to spread respect and wipe a hatred, to develop unity and discourage separatism and, finally, to build a peace in today’s world. Aware of the fact that young people, full of energy and enthusiasm, can be initiators of important projects, SAFE came up with the idea to celebrate the December and January holidays of all the major religious communities in Sarajevo. Therefore, valuable members of the SAFE team: Damir Bešlija, Alessandro Tomić, Raid Čulah, Kenan Ćatić, and the rest of the team, visited the central mosque in Sokolović Kolonija to celebrate “mevlud” – birth of Muhammad, a.s. (December 12, 2016). Afterwards, they visited Ashkenazi synagogue in the celebration of Hanukkah, Jewish holiday of light (December 24, 2016). On December 25, 2016 they paid a visit to the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart during the celebration of Catholic Christmas, and to the Orthodox Church to celebrate the Orthodox Christmas (January 7, 2017). In addition to these remarkable visits, SAFE organized lectures for students, which sought to promote tolerance and understanding, and to highlight advantages of diversity as one of the main cultural treasures of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Fatima Kovačević, the President of the students’ association SAFE emphasizes that the implemented activities represent an important idea, but also a guide to the acceptance and promotion of diversity, and development of tolerance, which is certainly more than necessary not only in BIH but in the entire Balkans. She adds that unfortunate events in recent years indicate the need for such projects worldwide.
Damir Bešlija, a SAFE member, is particularly pleased with this project. He has already participated in the activities of the Inter-Religious Council of Bosnia and Herzegovina. "At a time of nationalism, hatred and fear of the other and different, we consider it very useful, both for each individual and for the community, to start a project that will educate our colleagues about diversity, which truly enriches us. Spreading love, tolerance, and a respect is the key for the coexistence which is necessary for us who live in this region."
Damir claims that the ethnic and religious diversities in this region have already inflicted too much harm. He believes that it is time to break free from the shackles of nationalism and separatism that prevent an exceptional coexistence, unity, and further developments in the economic, cultural, educational, and any other part of life. It is time to vigorously and resolutely move forward. This is a basic need for all of us, regardless of our ethnic or religious background.
We wholeheartedly congratulate to young people and valuable members of the SAFE for the very successful implementation of a great idea.