Field Work Stories. Valentina Grganovic: “In Bosnia and Herzegovina to focus on human rights”

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After graduating in Political Science at the University of Zagreb (Croatia), Valentina Grganovic felt the genuine desire to expand her boundaries, both figuratively and geographically.  This is why she applied to a Master’s Degree in International Relations at the University of Bologna. “It was the best choice I have ever made: besides experiencing the Italian culture, at Unibo I found many funding options and a study programme on European Affairs, which is the topic I have always wanted to study.

Finally, when she had to choose the subject of her dissertation, Valentina found out about the Field Work project of the University of Bologna. As she has always cared about and interested inhuman rights, she immediately applied. Indeed, the project allows selected students to work at Non-Governmental Organizations in developing countries to grasp the concept of working “on the field”.

Valentina therefore chose to spend the summer in Sarajevo, the capital city of Bosnia and Herzegovina. There she worked as human rights operator in the sphere of conflict prevention. Once she reached her destination, she did a three-months internship at the NGO ‘Post-Conflict Research Centre’, that focuses on spreading a culture of peace and works to prevent conflicts in the Balkan area, by raising awareness and promoting research on human rights, post-conflict, and transnational justice.

Valentina performed a variety of tasks like writing articles, translating texts, attending workshops, and she even interviewed the manager of the Childhood War Museum in Sarajevo. She likes to recall the episode that most impressed her: the commemoration of 1995 Srebrenica genocide. On the 25th anniversary of the genocide, Srebrenica held a four-day event hosting young Bosnian students who attended lectures and workshops. Valentina there collaborated with the organization team. In this way, she learned about the history, the art, and the culture of Bosnia-Herzegovina. “I would like to put emphasis on how much I valued the experience I lived after the four days in Srebrenica. I was honored to attend the nomadic performance Što te nema”.

Every year, artist Aida Šehović creates a nomadic monument, in which people collect some traditional Bosnian coffee cups as symbolical representation of the 8,372 genocide victims. Thanks to the aid of communities around the world, a large number of coffee cups are collected every year so that the participants of the performance fill them with actual Bosnian coffee while this nomadic monument came to life.

After obtaining her Master’s Degree, Valentina is doing an internship in Brussels in the field of European Studies. The fieldwork experience allowed her to better understand international politics and the conflicts that may arise between countries, and she is now better equipped to face every challenge of the international relations. “The places that I visited and the people that I met will forever be a part of me, I feel like I improved not only my technical competences, but also my soft skills.