Ambassador's Explorations: Students, Culture, and NGOs in Jajce

With students in Jajce

Bosnia and Herzegovina continues to amaze me with its panoramic views and picturesque landscapes.  The city of Jajce, located in central Bosnia, is no exception.   Danuta and I began our recent visit there by meeting Mayor Nisvet Hrnjic and his advisors.   I was impressed by the municipality’s efforts to cross entity lines by offering to provide health care to their neighbors.  Under the Vrbas Initiative, Jajce is also partnering with eight neighboring towns along the Vrbas River to develop tourism potential.  I look forward to seeing the positive results of this initiative on tourism in the future.
It’s easy to see why Jajce is a candidate for UNESCO status, and I wish Jajce and its citizens every success in achieving this milestone.  Dr. Enes Milak, Professor of History and director of Jajce’s history museum, guided us on a tour of the museum, town and medieval fortress.   The U.S. Embassy, through the Ambassador’s Fund for Cultural Preservation, donated $30,000 to preserve two of the city’s famous landmarks -- the Saint Luke’s Bell Tower and Saint Mary’s Church.   
I was delighted to speak to members of Nikola Šop High School’s student council, learn more about their community service projects, and hear about their interests in studying in the United States.  The high school is an integrated school with students from different ethnic groups educated together.  The students also benefit from two U.S. Government-funded projects, the Student Councils Network which established a multi-ethnic network of secondary school leadership groups and Project Citizen, a civic education initiative.  
I am always impressed by civil society leaders’ fine work and dedication to improving the lives of their fellow citizens.  I was inspired after meeting with two outstanding NGOs -- the Association of Citizens Dijamant and Viktorija 99.  Both of these NGOs work tirelessly to build a bright future for Bosnia and Herzegovina.  They received support for entrepreneurship projects through the Embassy’s Democracy Commission’s small grants program.  The Association of Citizens Dijamant supports women and youth’s economic empowerment, entrepreneurship and multicultural youth projects.  Viktorija 99 empowers rural women through developing their business and employment skills. 
I wish I could have spent more time in this lovely town and I look forward to returning again.