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Welcome to the American Bosnian Collaboration Project!

We are a group of American and Bosnian university students with a passion for intercultural communication and education. William & Mary and University of Sarajevo students have been collaborating since the late 1990s to provide a fully-subsidized summer camp for Bosnian children during their summer breaks, filling in gaps in Bosnia and Herzegovina’s post-conflict educational system. Please check out the page of the ABC Project’s Bosnian partners for more information: https://peacehub.ba/news/

Summer 2022 Project 

After two years of innovative remote work, the American Bosnian Collaboration (ABC) project returned to Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina for an in-person program promoting intercultural competence this summer! Four William & Mary students (Rosemary Ketron (‘23), Olivia Olson (‘23), Catherine Cable (‘24), and Lara Nayar (‘24)) collaborated with University of Sarajevo students (Marija Kovacevic, Amela Vilic, and Naida Ahmetovic, and Nejra Kulovac) and local partners at the non-profit Creativus (Merima Becic and Lejla Kasumagić-Islambegović) and the University of Sarajevo (Larisa Kasumagić-Kafedžić) to co-teach 60 Bosnian youth and conduct research.  

Incorporating lessons learned from research conducted by prior ABC Project teams, the 2022 the program consisted of 3 days of online teaching and two weeks of in-person, student-centered instruction, engaging students in activities relating to ecology, diversity, non-violent communication, and culture. Throughout the program, students gathered qualitative and quantitative data for research evaluating the effectiveness of experiential and outdoor learning in promoting intercultural competence. The research is important because the findings can help to improve the ABC Project’s impact, build university students’ skills, and help Bosnian educators identify best practices to promote intercultural competence in the ​formal educational setting.  

To wrap up the program, each group presented a final project to the rest of the group and our local partners. The students used a variety of different creative outlets to showcase what they learned from the program.  

The youngest group worked with co-teachers to develop a script for their own play, incorporating ICC concepts with an emphasis on ecology, nonviolent communication, and conflict resolution. Students worked together to brainstorm ideas for the plot and characters, while co-teachers assisted by synthesizing the points into a cohesive play. Students created their own costumes, rehearsed, and presented the play “Our Kingdom” to tell the story of a society built on mutual respect for others and the environment. 

Group 2 created a short play that tackled environmental issues. The villain in the story planned to drop trash all over the environment. Child heroes had to create a plan to stop them. The students worked together to create a plot, and incorporated themes from their lessons 

The third group created a class newspaper set in 2040, describing their vision of what the world will be like then. Earlier in the week, each individual student created their own newspaper, and included their hopes and ideas for the future. They worked together to synthesize their ideas to make the class newspaper. Students included topics related to the environment, justice, and systemic problems they hope to improve.  

The oldest group created a play in which each of the students represented a time period and discussed the struggles of different groups. This allowed the students a chance to research and then walk in the shoes of a marginalized person which contributed to skills of intercultural competence such as empathy and understanding.  

The ABC Project 2022 team was overjoyed to be back in Sarajevo, and very proud of everyone’s efforts. The final projects displayed deep understanding of intercultural competence topics amongst all groups. We look forward to analyzing the research data to identify if and how outdoor, experiential learning helped students improve their ability to communicate and work across cultures. “Learn the ABC’s of the College’s American Bosnian Collaboration Project: The College of William and Mary sends four students to Bosnia summer of 2022 to teach English, conduct research” in The Flat Hat includes more reflection on our summer 2022 program. 

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2022 William and Mary Cohort

 

ABC Project 2019 – Short Documentary:

Mission Statement: Our mission is to bring together William & Mary and Bosnian students to foster cross-cultural understanding and work towards positive change for the youth of Bosnia

The William & Mary American Bosnian Collaboration Project at William & Mary’s Global Research Institute is a unique international service opportunity for students interested in making a difference and learning another culture in depth and up close.  It is William & Mary’s oldest and longest-running international trip for the purpose of serving others.

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Since its founding in 1998, over 100 William & Mary students have worked with the project, which in 2015 won a national award for Best Practices in International Education from the leading association of student affairs administrators, NASPA.

The W&M volunteers partner with education students from the University of Sarajevo to teach English and media skills to children. A month of teaching culminates in two weeks of video production workshops. Volunteers help the students create short films that allowed them to demonstrate their creativity in a way that they are unable to within the traditional Bosnian education system. By learning to express themselves in the medium of film, students are able to practice their intercultural communicative skills and provide the world with a window into the Bosnian perspective – one which has been largely out of the public eye since the war in the mid-1990s. From 2011-present, the ABC Project participants have lived, taught and learned in Sarajevo. By helping young people develop a positive self-image and respect for differences, the ABC Project aims to lay a few blocks in the foundation of a lasting peace.