|Meeting with teenagers from Orasje|
Earlier this month, I spent two days traveling to Orasje, Brcko, and Zvornik where I met with politicians, city officials, NGOs, and young volunteers. The meetings gave reason to be hopeful about the future of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The young people I met on the trip are so remarkable and ambitious. I have confidence that they will be the future leaders of this country and have already started working to better the lives of those around them.
In Orasje, I met with a group of teenagers who had recently returned from the U.S. Embassy’s Youth Leadership Exchange program in the U.S. They told me their community did not have a playground so they reached out to local officials and spearheaded a campaign to build one. Because of their efforts, a new playground will open in a few weeks.
I also attended an event sponsored by USAID’s Youth Eco-LeadershipCorps in Brcko. Participants in the program received vocational training and implemented green projects in their communities. Again, I was inspired by the enthusiasm of the young volunteers. They discussed how they wanted to promote positive environmental change in their communities. In some cases, they are already working with their local governmental officials about these issues. I am sure that their commitment, ambition and perseverance will change environmental consciousness in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
|At the Youth Center in Zvornik|
In Zvornik I met with volunteers at the community youth center. Their commitment to strengthening inter-ethnic relations among youth in their community is impressive. They understand how important it is to foster and appreciate diversity. These young volunteers are shaping the future of BiH in many positive and progressive ways.
We all know that BiH faces many challenges that will take time to address. However, I remain optimistic about the future of this country based on my many discussions with young people throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina. The young people do not see the barriers that some political leaders seek to erect nor do they accept the tired nationalist rhetoric aimed at blocking cooperation and slowing progress toward BiH’s full integration into Europe. We are counting on these young people to lead this country to full integration in Europe. They can depend on the U.S. to maintain our strong support for their activities and aspirations for better governance and economic prosperity.