Bosnian Student Returns Home
Vanja Filipovic spent his spring break visiting family in Sarajevo. It was the third time the 22-year-old had returned to his homeland. Although homesick at times, he has occupied himself with his studies in political science and focused on a future in which he will be able to help rebuild a democracy in Bosnia.
In May of 1999, Filipovic was among the 286 seniors to take part in the college's graduation ceremonies - a long way from home and some of his family.
Filipovic came to Haverford through the efforts of religion professor Michael Sells and the organization he founded in 1994 called The Community of Bosnia Foundation. Vanja and 54 other Bosnian students were brought to the United States during the period of genocide and ethnic cleansing in their homeland.
The Foundation has raised college and university scholarships for these students and offered them the comfort of host families during their stay in the U.S.
During his March '99 trip to Sarajevo, Filipovic found Bosnia to be more peaceful. "The country is slowly healing, " he says. "Rebuilding is underway, and there's certainly more freedom there now."
But Filipovic says that before the country can repair its infrastructure and rebuild its economy, people who were forced from their homes must be returned, and those responsible for the atrocities must be held accountable. Ultimately Filipovic hopes to return and be a part of his country's rebuilding. "I want to be involved in something that will build a democratic society in Bosnia," he says. For now, he plans to help the organization that helped him - as a member of the board of directors of the Community of Bosnia Foundation.