Week 2 in Belgrade

I can’t believe week 2 is over. Since getting here, we have been learning a lot. In this blog I will be discussing topics that were interesting to me because they had something similar to what happened in Rwanda. First, we learned about the ethnic conflicts that occurred in the former Yugoslavia. It was so interesting to hear that people from different states of ex-Yugoslavia (example: Serbia and Croatia) are only different in terms of religion and dialect but that there was no difference in terms of physical appearance. This was very interesting to me because when comparing this to the conflicts in Rwanda, people had physical difference but shared the same language and religion. It is just so sad that no matter how similar people are, they always find differences to focus on instead of focusing on their similarities.

In addition, a visit by someone from the Nansen Dialogue Network, an organization that focuses on promoting inter-ethnic dialogue in the western Balkans, was also very interesting to me. This talk also made me realize how different the post-conflict era in this region is very different to the post conflict era in Rwanda. While in the Balkans differences are still emphasized, in Rwanda the focus is to forget that we are even different in the first place. For example, we learned that in the different states of the former Yugoslavia, regions are ethnically segregated and in some schools with students from different ethnicities, history lessons are also ethnically segregated. On the other side, after the genocide Rwandans have been focusing on raising a new generation of just Rwandans with no ethnic differences, a generation of “Abanyarwanda” (Rwandans).

A quote by John F. Kennedy