Beauty, Pain and Hope in the Balkans

Discussing religious pluralism overlooking the Adriatic in the Balkans semester was stimulating to say the least. I so appreciated the insights of the Political Science and International Affairs students in my course: Sarah, Marco, Emily and Anna. We thought deeply about how successful pluralism can be furthered, “a social situation in which people with different ethnicities, worldviews, and moralities live together peacefully and interact with each other amicably” (Peter Berger). These are reoccurring themes in the Balkans, where the peace between nations, peoples and religions remains tenuous.

Joining our class for a discussion on religion, genocide and the Bosnian experience was Professor John Sarrouf, and students Adrian and Sam.

Balkans Semester Classroom

Bosnian Sanja Spaic here shares her perspective on living through the war as a young girl and contributing to the revitalization of Sarajevo today. My sister, journalist Lois Melkonian, who began reporting on the war and the region’s recovery nearly 20 years ago, was also a featured guest speaker who came to share her insights on what she saw then and today, bringing her dear friend Sanja to us. (Lois and Sanja in the Old City of Dubrovnik)

Balkans Semester in Dubrovnik

On the lighter side, it was an incredible experience to share with my family. My husband and children were able to join us. Swimming daily in the Adriatic was an amazing gift and my son’s regular “gym class.” What a restorative experience, especially for students, after our intense and thoughtful daily discussions in the program!

Balkans Semester Swimming

Ruth Melkonian Hoover is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Gordon College in Wenham, MA.

Dr. Melkonian Hoover was a contributing faculty member for the Balkans Semester for the Study of War and Peace, Spring 2015. For more information, visit the Balkans Semester Website.

#gordonglobal #gordonmoments #studyabroad #balkans


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