Sarajevo, Bosnia’s capital city, is truly a place of dichotomies. A walk through the city streets reveals the various empires that once ruled Bosnia. Although it is tremendously cosmopolitan, the pock-marked streets betray some very visible scars from the 1,400-day siege it suffered during the war. (The siege of Sarajevo remains the longest military siege in modern history.) The city, famous for its ethnic diversity, retains its multi-ethnic character, although no census has been taken since 1991.
Creativus is a nongovernmental organization dedicated to helping children and youth. It was founded by Larisa, Lejla, and Amela Kasumagic in 2007. They have worked with children in both Zenica and Sarajevo. Their current projects include a daily preschool and low-cost English classes for children ages 3-7, focusing on creative and cooperative learning.
Specifically in regards to the William & Mary Bosnia Project, Creativus is working on forming a partnership with the University of Sarajevo’s English Education department. As a professor in the department, Larisa is integral to this as are the Bosnian university students themselves. While students studying to become teachers and professors of English in Bosnia go through extensive and rigorous studies, they do not have many (if any) opportunities to actually practice their skills inside a classroom. Creativus, through the Bosnia Project, hopes to give these university students some of the practical learning that will help to qualify them as excellent teachers of English while showing them a perspective on teaching from outside Bosnia.
Participants in the 2010 Bosnia Project pioneered the new partnership with Creativus. With help from Creativus staff, the W&M students ran a summer program for elementary school-age children using space at a local school. Each W&M student co-taught classes with a Bosnian university student. Teachers from the US hoped to accomplish the goal of injecting a fun perspective on learning English into the traditional classroom setting by incorporating games, crafts, and songs – a decidedly untraditional approach, at least by Bosnian standards.
W&M students also helped in the preschool classes in the evening that are taught at the Creativus center by bringing games and activities that are not common in the Bosnian experience and taught them to the children in English. They co-taught these lessons with Bosnian university students who are studying to become teachers.