Heather McRobie

Heather McRobie

I attended the Summer University in 2011 and continue to carry the lessons and memories from that time with me today, in my research on transitional justice and in human rights. I'd studied Human Rights at the University of Sarajevo in 2010 and made close friends with survivors of the war and the siege of Sarajevo, but I wanted to deepen my understanding of the impact of the genocide in Srebrenica. Listening to the testimonies of survivors that summer was difficult and moving, and encouraged me to take a course afterwards in ethics of interviewing techniques. Attending the Marš Mira in the days before the commemoration ceremony at Srebrenica-Potočari was challenging but cemented the friendships we'd made on the programme, as well as providing time to reflect on the ways the people of Srebrenica had to survive. The ceremony itself, on July 11th, continues to stay with me as a potent memory, as do the stories of the survivors and the continued search for justice. Since I attended the programme I completed a PhD in Law at the University of Oxford, where transitional justice was a central theme of my research, and I attribute my continued interest in this topic to the formative summer I spent in Srebrenica, and the people I met during that time.


Dmytro Koval

Dmytro Koval

Summer University Srebrenica is a perfect place for those who are interested in international criminal justice, transitional justice and sociology of post-conflict societies to plunge into the spirit of transition, change of societal memory, post-conflict rebuilding and commemoration. My participation in the SUS gave me a privilege to see human faces beyond the ICTY cases, loses and advancements of international organizations beyond the different transitional justice strategies, fates of people beyond the abstract right for truth and need of justice and commemoration. I would strongly encourage all those who wish to deepen their understanding of the crisis connected with the dissolution of Yugoslavia and perceive different dimensions of the transition and administration of criminal justice in the region to apply to the University!


Elizabeth Shaughnessy

Elizabeth Shaughnessy

Summer University Srebrenica was an incredible experience, both academically and personally. Originally from the United States, I had done research in Bosnia and Herzegovina independently the year before SUS, and I was looking for a way to return before starting my Master’s program at the University of Oxford. I heard of the program through a network of friends in the region and immediately knew I wanted to apply. I had participated in Mars Mira the previous summer, but through SUS I was able to expand on that experience with witness testimonials and introductions to various organizations (UNDP, ICTY, ICMP, and OSCE to name a few).

The March was difficult, but it solidified the relationships we had built as a group in the days before, and participation truly brought the experience to a new level. What was previously an intellectual and academic introduction to the Srebrenica genocide became a physical and emotional trial for all of us. There are many words I could use to describe different moments of the Summer University - moving, frustrating, exhausting, eye-opening, even fun—but ultimately it is an experience that can only be understood as a whole by the group of students with whom it is shared. The program would not have been what it was without the support, generosity, and oftentimes comic relief of our group leaders, Rusmir and Nihad, and the program director, Muhamed. Summer University Srebrenica had a lasting impact on me, one that I will carry into my professional career, and I hope to see many more generations of students learn about the genocide and use that knowledge and experience to actively bring about positive change in the world.


Ebru Aslı Yoltar

Ebru Aslı Yoltar

Summer University Srebrenica is a wonderful chance for people interested in Balkan Studies. Even though my history education was based on Balkan Studies, my experience in these 10 days taught me far more than my whole education. Ten days was like a Masters degree! Reading the facts from books and seeing the reality is so different. However, it's not only for people who study the Balkans. I think that people who want to see how much humanity can grow, should attend the program.

Especially during the Peace March I learned a lot and tried to empathize with what the survivors went through in their journey. I strongly recommend this programme to people who want to have a better understanding of what happened in Srebrenica and during the Bosnian war. The team is the most wonderful I have encountered. They are always willing to help you - even with the little things that matter.


Małgorzata Myl

Małgorzata Myl

My name is Małgorzata Myl and I come from Poland. I am PhD student at Faculty of Law. In my research I focus on International Humanitarian Law, International Criminal Law and International Human Rights Law. I work as a professor assistant at University of Silesia (Poland), where I teach International Public Law and European Law. I graduated from College of Europe (course on International Humanitarian Law of Armed Conflicts) and now I am a scholar student at European Academy of Diplomacy. In 2016 I started my academic research project titled “Use of force vs International Humanitarian Law and International Law of Human Rights”. During my research I found information about Summer University of Srebrenica. It seemed very interesting and useful to me. As far as I know, I was the first person from Poland that have ever participated in the Program. But I can promise you – I was not the last one! SUS was one of the best experience in my life – both, academic and private.

I have had knowledge about the Genocide in Srebrenica before I participated in the Program. But nothing could prepare me for such shocking, strong and real testimony. The most valuable was the opportunity to meet with survivors and their families, to talk to them, to realize that the tragedy is not a history, it is their everyday life. During SUS I have met amazing people that I can truly call my friends. After graduating from SUS, I decided to modify my PhD thesis. Right now it is based on Srebrenica Case and I hope I will be very frequent guest in Bosnia and Herzegovina. I am not going to lie - some moments of SUS were very challenging, but even then I did not have any doubts that I was taking part in something big and important.


Indijana Šabić

Indijana Šabić

My name is Indijana Šabić (23) and I was born and raised in Bosnia and Herzegovina. I applied to Summer University Srebrenica 2016 as an MA student of International Relations program at the International University of Sarajevo. I have so many impressions after the SUS 2016, since it was an intense and informative 10 days, but I will try to wrap up my personal experience.

Firstly, I was impressed to see so many students and researchers from all around the globe attending the program and being interested in learning about my country! We all gathered with few goals - to learn about the last war in B&H, and especially about the Srebrenica genocide, to walk the Peace March, to try to sympathize with survivors, and to commemorate the victims with a message to never forget the genocide, nor to let it happen again. We did have some lectures and visits to UN, ICTY, ICMP (International Commission on Missing Persons), solely with a purpose to offer a theoretical background to all the participants who were not local, and who might not know certain facts or stories. I did know most of the stories, the history of the war, the genocide, but I must say, to me, it was emotionally very difficult to hear so many stories, to talk to survivors, and to walk the Peace March.

I was both sad and proud to see thousands of people coming to my country to walk that March and to join the commemoration of July 11 in the Potočari Memorial Center. I was sad because of the reason why we all gathered, but I was proud to see that people care, people want to learn, they ask many questions, they want to spread the word, to be ambassadors of my country, my people, and to sympathize with all of us, but especially the victims who shall always be remembered.

The political system of B&H, human rights, post-war reconciliation, genocide studies are some of my personal areas of interest, where I did some projects and wrote and published few papers so far. Also, as students of International relations, we did have a lot of theoretical background, so I joined the SUS program in order to meet new people, share experience, and perhaps learn something new, since some participants come from conflict areas, or simply do research about these topics. However, attending a program like this one changes the perspectives and I realized how little I knew. Walking the path where survivors of the genocide walked, and where many people were murdered on their way to the free territory, seeing large number of mass graves, on the one side seeing people live close to those mass graves and still hiding the truth, then on the other side seeing the families of victims who still either did not find the dead bodies of their family members at all, or they found just few bones but they are still waiting to find some other missing body parts so they can be buried - was very difficult. Even though we think we know just enough and it is emotionally hard to cope with the real truth, this is what we must do. And not just my fellow Bosnians, but especially people who never faced the war and who never lost their family members in the war. Seeing all of these, hearing all the stories should be difficult, because that is the only way we can sympathize with the victims. And we should sympathize. We should question our values.

I would recommend this program firstly to students/researchers/academics who do some research on the already mentioned topics, because knowing just theory is never enough. Because what was Srebrenica yesterday, Aleppo is becoming today, and tomorrow who knows? And also, when we say “Never again”, we should mean it, we should stand behind our words, and it should be followed by certain actions. Nobody can save the world, but we can be the goodwill ambassadors, we can spread the word, we can show the world that we care. Srebrenica genocide is not just the issue of Bosnia and Herzegovina, but rather a global issue. If I am to evaluate this Summer University, I would simply say that everybody should have such an academic experience. It brings new dimensions to one’s knowledge, but what is more relevant, it teaches you to raise questions, once again, even when you think you learned it all. Thank you for this great awakening.

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Ivana Polić

Ivana Polić

As a historian of the former Yugoslavia and its successor states, I felt joining this program would give me a professional opportunity to learn more about the tragic events which took place in Srebrenica and the region of Eastern Bosnia in the first half of the 1990s. What I got was a once-in-a-lifetime experience in so many ways, and an interactive type of program that I have never experienced before. Engaging in thoughtful conversations with representatives of various institutions crucial for Bosnia’s postwar transition and development, like the United Nations, International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, International Commission for Missing Persons, and many others, enabled me to understand the enormous difficulties, but also commitment and passion of these individuals in their mission of maintaining the much needed interethnic tolerance in the country.

The Peace March was definitely the most challenging part of the program, but at the same time an amazing opportunity for personal bonding between all the participants on many levels. Furthermore, hearing many sincere first-hand experiences of survivors made me think about the way I myself can contribute in sharing their stories, since all the people I have talked to never forgot to stress the value of solidarity and forgiveness for the process of healing the broken bonds of their communities. By honoring the victims of all those who did not survive the Death March of 1995, we reminded ourselves what it means to be human. More importantly, we developed an awareness of the way we ourselves can spread messages of peace, tolerance, and understanding to our own respective communities at this time when the world needs them more than ever before.


Janice Ayarzagoitia

Janice Ayarzagoitia

I am from Mexico, and a recent graduate from Central European University’s MA program in Human Rights. A friend introduced me to this program within my university cohort from Sarajevo, B&H. I immediately applied for the scholarship for many reasons. Namely, I am very curious about genocides, genocide denial, history, justice, and ongoing reconciliation initiatives. Coming from a family that was persecuted in WWII for religious reasons in Europe, I became intrigued to know more about the Srebrenica genocide.

Soon after I finished my graduate studies, I attended Summer University Srebrenica in Bosnia and Herzegovina. I can safely say it was the most challenging and most intense – physically, intellectually, and mentally- experience of my graduate year. The program was strategically organized to provide participants with an interdisciplinary hands-on learning experience. The intensity of the topic that is the Srebrenica Genocide was enhanced by the Peace March we participating in. I really appreciated meeting and learning from different individuals working at international and local entities that are seeking the truth, working for restorative justice, and reconciliation as well as their ongoing projects. Not to mention the natural beauty of the country and its people is unmatched.

I came out of this program with a wealth of information and knowledge that I am continuously processing even today. The group of participants came from all over the world, and for various reasons, we all decided to spend those ten days together. The Peace March brought us closer, and we learned from each other. The organizing team was incredible as well - We were welcomed, well taken care of, and we have thousands of photographs to remind us of the journey we took. I sincerely recommend this program to every single individual regardless of academic or professional background because it is a part of history that needs to be recognized and known about. We all have a role to play as global citizens in ensuring that genocide does not continue to happen anywhere in the world. As late Elie Wiesel said, “the opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.”

Thank you to the Summer University Srebrenica team for an unforgettable time!

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Mirza Velagić

Mirza Velagić

Taking part in Summer University Srebrenica in 2016 has been one of the most impactful and memorable experiences of my life. My interest in participating in the program was very personal. In the fall of 1992, when I was six years old, my family and I were forced to flee our home in the city of Banja Luka in northwestern Bosnia. After a precarious journey lasting two weeks we arrived as refugees in Germany with only the few bags that we could carry. As terrifying as our experience had been, I was later to learn that Bosniaks living in Eastern Bosnia, particularly in the town of Srebrenica, had suffered a far more horrifying fate then my family had endured.

As president of the Seattle-based nonprofit Voices of the Bosnian Genocide I was well informed about the Srebrenica genocide – I had carefully studied the reports, seen the pictures, and read survivor testimonies but I felt that to truly understand the tragedy of Srebrenica I had to be there, to walk the ground that victims and survivors walked on, to see the former United Nations peacekeeping base in Potocari where terrified civilians had sought shelter, and to talk to survivors face-to-face. By taking part in Summer University Srebrenica I was able to do all of that, and much more.

I found out about Summer University Srebrenica through a friend’s post on Facebook. I was immediately drawn to their educational program and the fact that participants would be able to talk to experts and survivors while also taking part in the Srebrenica Peace March with fellow participants.

I truly enjoyed meeting participants from all over the world who were just as interested in learning about Bosnia’s history and current situation as I was. The program organizers were incredibly friendly and informative and together we got to explore the cities of Sarajevo and Tuzla and visit many important national and international institutions.

By far the most challenging and rewarding part of the program for me was taking part in the Peace March. We walked for three days from the village of Nezuk to the town of Srebrenica to attend the burial ceremony for newly identified victims on the 21st anniversary of the genocide. It was during this grueling march - walking through Eastern Bosnia’s mass grave archipelago and talking with survivors - that I truly got a glimpse of the horrors of Srebrenica in July of 1995 while also witnessing the resilience of survivors and returnees. The Srebrenica genocide became real to me. It was scorching hot in the daytime, frigid at night, we were exhausted and many of us got blisters but the feeling of camaraderie and accomplishment that I felt upon reaching Srebrenica is indescribable.

The program allowed me to reach all of the goals I had set for myself going in and it has provided me with an experience that I can always draw upon as I continue my work in genocide studies and education. It has also increased my desire to attend graduate school in order to research the intersections that exist between mass violence and public health with the aim of helping those most affected around the world.

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Diamond Nazaneen Cronen

Diamond Nazaneen Cronen

Background: I live and study in Los Angeles, California. I came to Bosnia for the very first time this past summer. I’m currently attending the University of California, Los Angeles as a graduate student. My degree objective is an MLIS (Master's of Library and Information Science); with an emphasis on archival studies and informatics. A little on my personal background: I was born in the United States. My mother is Iranian and my father is Irish-American. My mother fled Iran during the revolution. She chose California because her brothers came before her. Within a few years she met my father and by the time I was born, a few more members of family had safely arrived and settled in California as well. Thus, I speak Farsi fluently (don't ask me to read Hafez, but children's stories I can manage).

Why SUS The Summer University Srebrenica program was recommended to me by my advisor and mentor; Professor Anne Gilliland (http://www.dunrunda.co). Professor Gilliland has had a long history of scholarly work and interest in the region. She recommended for me to travel to Sarajevo for the summer to participate in archival fieldwork, an internship, and the SUS program. She was familiar with the program for many years through her friendship with organizers since the programs inception.

My knowledge of the Bosnian language was nonexistent, however, during the summer program this was not a program and if you have a desire to learn and adapt you will not face any difficulty here. Additionally, although I had an extremely limited knowledge of the region and its history, the program provided more than adequate introductory seminar on the first day which really helped all of us to be on the same page from the start.

The Program The program itself is very well organized. Muhammed is an incredible person, his story and journey are so inspirational. Beyond that, he's a funny guy, very warm and kind. The two organizers (Rusmir and Nihad) were incredible. Sometimes things get heavy due to the subject and nature of the program. These two always knew when to crack a smile or when to suggest that we eat ;) Really, their kindness knows no bounds. I can't speak highly enough of them.

For those who have never been to the city of Sarajevo, you are really in for a treat. It is a city truly unlike any other; full of life and history. Perhaps, like me, you may be apprehensive about arriving alone in a city that is unknown to you. However, know that your arrival and travels following the program itinerary will be safe, and you will get to see a good amount of Bosnia as well.

Lasting Impact I made lifelong friends in this program. Making ties with the international community of young scholars like myself, was a priceless opportunity that I really did not expect. The program is rigorous, but if you have any concerns Muhammed is very easygoing and will accommodate you as best as possible.

Another really excellent part of this program that I did not expect was the various institutions we visited. As a group we met with many individuals and their institutions. Seeing things from various perspectives was really great. It definitely helps when you engage by asking questions, taking notes, and just keeping your eyes and ears open. So, that is the advice I would give. Expect the unexpected. Keep an open mind and heart, put one foot in front of the other, and listen.

As to the overall impact of the program; perhaps its best to say: I have yet to hear from any fellow participant who wasn't significantly impacted by this experience. Although we journeyed together; we all walked away from the experience with different stories sticking to our minds, different interviews, notes, and conversations--all unique and valuable.

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Märta Ahlén

Märta Ahlén

On both a personal and academic level the Srebrenica Summer University was a truly magical, once-in-a-lifetime experience! This summer program provides an incomparable opportunity for researchers and university students to take part in, seeing the reality of, and understand from within, the processes of international criminal justice and transitional justice. As it is a program selecting, based on academic merit, only a limited number of graduate students and researchers each year to conduct research on topics related to Genocide, Transitional Justice, Post-Conflict Studies, and Human Rights, I consider myself incredibly lucky and privileged to have counted among the participants of the 2016 program!

I have studied law focusing on International Criminal Law and Human Rights at Stockholm University in Sweden, and my understanding of the atrocities committed during the war in the former Yugoslavia was furthered as I completed an internship at the ICTY during the Prosecutor v. Mladić trial in 2015, and paid a visit to Potočari for the ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide. Having been recommended to apply to the program by a former colleague at the ICTY I never hesitated to grasp the opportunity to return to Bosnia.

The lavish program of the Srebrenica Summer University includes interacting with representatives of the Council of Europe, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), the United Nations (UN) and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE); making study visits to the International commission on Missing Persons (ICMP) DNA laboratory in Sarajevo and the Podrinje Identification Project in Tuzla; partaking in the annual peace march from Nezuk to Potočari and the commemoration and collective burial of newly identified genocide victims at Potočari Memorial Cemetery; listening to witness testimonials and speaking to Srebrenica survivors and activists. Overall, it provides a comprehensive guide to, and furthers the understanding of, the machinery of post-conflict peace-building in war-torn societies; its actors, its activists its institutions and its necessary elements, such as securing, through international and national criminal justice, a shared societal memory.

I would warmly recommend those interested in understanding the complexity of post-conflict societies to partake in the program. Most of all, it awards its participants the honor and privilege to see the plurality of human faces having lived through the atrocities; their loss, and their wish for justice. Lastly, the Peace March, however challenging, brought forth a wonderful sense of standing up for and supporting each other, deepening the relationships among all the participants. I think at the end of the 2016 program all of us had at some point broken down crying, the entire experience posing such an emotional and physical challenge. However, among all the emotions brought forth by this program, ranging from being deeply moved to feeling utterly drained, its lasting effects – and these still stick with me – are a warm sense of common purpose, of support; of solidarity and friendship; of understanding one’s fellow human beings and believing that there is a chance to bring justice to those affected and guarantees of non-recurrence. I would like to extend my sincere thanks to all the participants and the organizers who went out of their way to bring us laughs, food, pep talks, breaks, guidance, when we needed them the most!

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