Super inspiring Sunshine
By Sunčica Đukanovic
I grew up in Milići, a small municipality in the eastern part of Bosnia and Herzegovina. During my primary and secondary education, as well as during my studies, I attended numerous training that opened the door to many opportunities for me to gain new knowledge and practical experiences in various fields, meet new people, travel and get to know my country first and foremost, but also to step into the world.
Through my work in civil society, I began to build a picture of society from a different angle, thinking critically and understanding it thoroughly. Getting out of my safe zone and facing new, different points of view, had been quite difficult and challenging for me. One of my first educations was a great challenge and experience for me since I went to the community where I was not “one of them" and they were not "ours". At the moment I have become a minority in my own country, in terms of ethnic belonging. At that moment, I have realized that the 90s have not been seen from all angles and that each family might be facing this issue. In my family, the war was never discussed, I have learnt "Love yourselves and respect others; divide people only for the good and the bad", and there that story ends. Unfortunately, many young people I met do not share even this way of thinking. There are many families where all these events are talked in order to defend an exclusive and impeccable truthfulness of Serbian, Croatian or Bosniak history, rather than to understand and get into a dialogue with those who think differently. It was a devastating fact for me, but also that was my inspiration and motivation for a long thought – what can I do about it?
The first peace training for young people of different faiths and ethnics, which I signed up for in 2017, complemented and influenced my overall thinking to the point that I had decided which field I want to study after high school, on what path I want to see myself working confidently. The Center for Peacebuilding, whose mission is building trust, work for reconciliation among the peoples of Bosnia and Herzegovina and support for peace processes in countries that have gone through violent period, has been a wind in my back since that year, a source of motivation and confirmation for the change that is worth to fight for.
When I was called to make the decision on my higher education, I have decided for the Faculty of Political Sciences at the University of Sarajevo, an opportunity to learn, to widen my horizons and critically, question the world from the opposite angle. This year, I am completing the first cycle of study, during which I continued my active engagement with a focus on peace and human rights programs. I will sign up for the Master studies in the Security and Peace to continue my discovering through formal education in the same field.
I firmly believe in peacebuilding I am proud of my dedication to it for all those years. For me, pacifism is the path that everyone needs to follow, everyone should build and live peace. Young generations of Bosnia and Herzegovina are largely poisoned by the consequences of the conflict; that disease needs to be addressed if we want to move on. As long as there are divisions, where parents do not let their children go to education held in another entity, where people are not allowed to move to the other side of the city because they are afraid of those from the other side – until then, peacebuilding is needed and inevitable. I am sad when I find that not all people feel free in their own country. They are afraid of each other.
No matter how small, the wall of prejudice exists in every human being. I believe by interaction, communication and learning that wall will be demolished. It is important that we discover ourselves and other people, to question everything we are faced with. I strive to encourage young people, but even older, to an active commitment to peace, hard work that usually results with small and hardly visible results; to encourage them to peacebuilding, a noble endeavour, needed in post-conflict societies such as ours. Therefore, it is imperative that everyone knows what an individual peace skill means; it is to strengthen one's self-confidence, in order not to tell others what and how to do but to communicate with them without the interference of prejudices while recognizing their dignity. We should set an example for others by our actions and point out our differences solely as our richness that we should be proud of.
In the end, all those words were written – it is not my job, my career… It is my calling! I firmly and honestly believe that each of us is destined for something, we just need to be persistent, believe in ourselves and discover the path that is destined for us. So, do not wait for a change, start from yourself, and if you believe strongly enough, nothing can stop you on the path to achieving your goal.