Bringing Stories of Heroism to Life

Unfortunately in today’s Bosnia and Herzegovina, young people are exposed to many negative examples.  Too many entertainers and politicians act from divisive agendas or self-promotion instead of providing positive role models. The media too often focus on crime, scandal, and political deadlock. That’s why I was proud to open the photography exhibit The Rescuers last Thursday. The Rescuers, which will be displayed on the square in front of Sarajevo’s BBI Centar until July 25, tells the stories of remarkable individuals who risked their lives to save others during times of conflict and genocide.

The exhibit shows that heroism is not restricted to one country or ethnic group. Croats, Serbs, Jews, and Bosniaks from Bosnia and Herzegovina—as well as individuals from Rwanda, Cambodia, and elsewhere in Europe—demonstrated the moral courage to reach beyond their fear to act on behalf of someone else.  I believe that it is deeply important that we not only look for people who have demonstrated courage and compassion, but that we listen to their stories and publicly recognize the good they have done.

This exhibit is actually part of a bigger project called Picturing Moral Courage. The Embassy has teamed up with the Post Conflict Research Center, Proof: Media for Social Justice, and the Center for Justice and Reconciliation to carry out a three-part program designed to give young people the necessary resources for effecting social change and reconciliation. In addition to The Rescuers, which aims to offer positive role models and recognize the everyday heroes who surround us, the Embassy and our partners also held a two-day youth conference on July 15 and 16. This conference brought together young people from Bosnia and Herzegovina, its neighbors in the Balkans, and as far away as the United States, Rwanda, and China.

Ambassador Moon opens the “Picturing Moral Courage Conference”

We used this conference to offer young people new tools to make a difference in their society. Whether having a Q&A session with Abigail Disney, Producer of the award-winning film Pray the Devil Back to Hell, learning about how to use sports for social change, or hearing the personal stories of some of the heroes featured in The Rescuers, the students also had a chance to voice their opinions and form new networks. I was especially proud that two of the Embassy’s Youth Leadership Program alumni—Hajrudin Coralic and Borislav Buljic—shared their wisdom with their peers during a panel called “The Youth Speak Out.” They were joined on stage by three other exceptional young people from BiH, Tatjana Milovanovic, Kemal Karic, and Luka Idzakovic. Both the student audience and expert guests agreed that the youth panelists were the stars of the show.

The final portion of this project will consist of student workshops to be held around Bosnia and Herzegovina this fall. Other cities will also get a chance to see The Rescuers exhibit as it travels around the country later this year. In the meantime, please stop by the BBI Centar if you are in Sarajevo to see this small but very special exhibit.