Student Stories

Security is a state of mind.

July 24th, 2022

Based on a competitive selection process, I was chosen as one of the six students to represent the University of Sarajevo on behalf of the Faculty of Political Science during the InPeace Intensive Course "People, Communities, and Cities in Peacebuilding" at the University of Iceland in Reykjavik. Höfði Reykjavík Peace Center has organized this one-week intensive academic course in peace and conflict studies in cooperation with partner universities, Tampere University, UiT- The Arctic University of Norway, the University of Basque Country (UPV / EHU), and the University of Sarajevo, from 30th of May until 5th of July.

As mobility students at the University of Iceland, in the first place, we were pleased to meet with the President of Iceland, Guðni Th. Jóhannesson. Thanks to Mr. President's openness, frankness, and friendly welcome, we felt comfortable discussing different matters such as internal and external matters, conflict-related issues, positive nationalism, and the efforts Iceland puts in order to preserve the Icelandic language. One of the main statements of the president that left a strong impression, "Security is a state of mind." was an uplifting start to this one-week InPeace intensive program, an inclusive and intersectional approach to peace studies.

Through lectures, group projects, seminars, exercises, and simulations, the course studied "unconventional" actors in peacebuilding and the diversity of ways these actors support or obstruct the process. The program started with an intro on the non and sub-state actors, why they matter for the peace, and how they can get support in their role in peacebuilding? Then, we learned about the Critical geography of peace: space, identities, and power relations in peacebuilding. We learned about the primary non-state actors involved in peacebuilding, the varied roles they play, as well as the terms and definitions that are associated with them. We got the chance to analyze the interactions between non-state actors, governments, and international organizations and the factors that affect whether or not they choose to participate in peacekeeping and conflict resolution.

With my colleagues from Armenia, Pakistan, and Spain, I prepared a case study research on Women and the conflict in Afghanistan as a closing activity. This research is closely related to my  Master Thesis on which I am working, so I am glad to have had that opportunity to conduct research with such fantastic professors and students throughout this time. Israel/Palestine, Kashmir, Northern Ireland, Rwanda, Syria, and Ukraine were some other cases. I can proudly say that the knowledge of our group from Bosnia and Herzegovina was prominent. Non-formal education has once again shown its importance as the fact of how valuable it is as a matter of wisely consolidating with all acquired formal education.

I provided my formal and informal experience in the security and peace area, which is generally related to the training concept, as a contribution to this intensive training. I highlighted my Erasmus + exchange at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow as one of the closest academic activities. I attended lectures on Working with Volunteers: NGO Aid Development after a Crisis Situation, Management of Humanitarian Programs and Post-Conflict Reconstruction, and International Responsibility to Protect and Humanitarian Intervention, and all the acquired knowledge meant a lot to me as I was able to apply it during my participation in the program in Iceland.

Since this InPeace program took place when I was on exchange in Krakow, I had a lot of work to fulfill my duties. My home faculty and my host faculty in Krakow gave me their full support. I am immensely grateful to them and the BOSANA Foundation for their continuous support on my path to gaining knowledge!

Next month, In August, I will attend the academic program "BOLD Institute on Civic Engagement" in the United States at the University of Nebraska (Omaha). I hope that I will fulfill all my expectations and that I will be able to apply all the acquired knowledge through formal and informal programs, and to create some useful civic engagement program, which will help in development of our Bosnian-Herzegovinian society.

All those mentioned programs are ideal places for progress and example of opportunities to contribute with effort and commitment. In conclusion, concentrating on people, communities, and cities is essential for peacebuilding in post-conflict cultures like ours.

I sincerely believe that by using the acquired knowledge, we will build a brave, inclusive, and intersectional approach to peace studies.

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