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A Call to Prayer
Above: YES Abroad students with the Bruce Lee statue in Mostar.
By Darcy T., YES Abroad 2016-2017, Bosnia and Herzegovina
The first time that I heard the call to prayer in Sarajevo, I promised myself that for the next ten months I would use that melody as a reminder to think of where I am, even if it is as simple as thinking “Wow, Bosnia!” Whether I’m walking home from the bus stop, sitting in math class, or watching TV with my family, I stop for a moment to appreciate my opportunity to live abroad.
Since I landed at the Sarajevo International Airport in mid-August, I have spent the majority of my time going to school, exploring the city, and spending time with my host family. However, I also have had a few opportunities to travel throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). On December 17, my fellow exchange students and I went on a day trip to Mostar, the largest city in the Herzegovina region of the country. After our bus arrived in Mostar, we stopped for a coffee at a cafe on the way to the American Corner at Gimnazija Mostar. The American Corner was hosting a STEAM fair where we were able to talk about YES Abroad, Mostar, and our experiences in BiH with some local students. Next, we took a walk through Park Zrinjevac to see a statue of Bruce Lee that was erected to represent the fight against ethnic tension in this ethnically divided town. After a walk through the old town and a few more photo opportunities, we sat down for lunch at a crowded restaurant with the call to prayer in the background. Because the sun sets so early this time of year, there wasn’t much time left for sightseeing, so after a final cafe stop, it was time to go back to Sarajevo.
It isn’t hard to remember the opportunities of exchange when touring new places, but it is more difficult when I find myself falling into a monotonous rhythm or start missing home. The sound of the call to prayer accompanied me during the so-called honeymoon phase at the beginning of my exchange year, on my daily walk to school in the dark morning hours, and when seeing new sites and cities. This sound that speaks to millions of people across the world also reminds me to be aware of every moment that I have to experience Bosnia.
Below: YES Abroad students in front of Gimnazija Mostar.