By Merima Muhic, YES 2015-2016, Bosnia and Herzegovina, hosted by ACES in Apex, NC
During my academic year with the YES Program I was regularly encouraged to use what I gained from my experience to shape and change my home community for the better. By the time I completed the program and become alumna, I had already acquired so many skills to make that possible. As positive and optimistic I am, I never thought I would get a chance to grow and learn in just a short amount of time.
Just a few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to participate in a simulated version of the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina in creating the new constitution, which took place at the actual Parliamentary Assembly building! The current constitution of Bosnia and Herzegovina has been the same for over 20 years. It has many contradictions and disregards a big part of the population completely – stripping many citizens of many basic human rights. To put it simply, a reform has been long overdue.
The simulation was organized by Hrvatski studentski politoloski forum – HSPF (Croatian Student Political Forum), with students from Banja Luka, Mostar, and Sarajevo participating. This made it possible for young people, from various backgrounds with different opinions and arguments, to gather in one place and discuss a critical topic.
As the vice president of our student body, I had the chance to lead students from Faculty of Political Science Sarajevo. And like in all things we do, we always manage to run into a member of our YES family. I was reunited with Ivana Vasilj (YES 2014-2015, Bosnia and Herzegovina, hosted by CIEE in Olney, TX) without previously even knowing she was going to attend. Ivana studies political science in Mostar, and is a member of the HSPF – thus making it possible for her to be one of the participants as well.
The discussion lasted for a whole day and we voted YES for 15 amendments to the proposition but didn’t have the majority to approve the constitution. We agreed on many important issues, such as respecting all citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina, not only the three constituent people which are listed in the current constitution, as well as making sure those same minorities to be accordingly represented in all levels of government.
This successful event showed that there is great hope! Even though we, at the time, had different parts of the proposed Constitution that we wanted to change, we still managed to have a civilized discussion and present valid arguments about the parts which are important to each of us. This kind of discussion is something that takes a long time to happen for actual politicians and policy makers in our country.