My time working for the RESOLVE: Network in Sarajevo has been distinguished by ceaseless opportunities for personal and professional development, in a setting that was new, exciting and challenging. In particular, the city provided scope for me to explore and question my own lifestyle, whilst immersed in a culture that is multi-faceted and different to my usual surroundings.
My personal goal for my time spent in Bosnia was to broaden my understanding of European culture, and in particular engage with new societies and practices by learning and understanding different lifestyles. The level to which this goal was achieved definitely superseded my expectations and living for an extended period of time in a new country educated and developed my cultural knowledge exponentially. Without a doubt one of my greatest takeaways from the programme has been the benefits of living and working in a new place, and I feel I have enormously benefitted from fully engaging with the RESOLVE: Network and in appreciating the nuances of cultural differences. In meeting people from many walks of life during my time in Sarajevo, I have learned about the social issues faced in Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as understood how they compare and are similar to those faced in my own community.
Beyond this personal and cultural enrichment which has been at the core of my volunteering experience, I feel the soft skills and professional development I have gained throughout my time here has been exceedingly beneficial. In working predominantly online, I have learned about the importance of effective communication, and how to work in a diverse and multicultural organisation. Additionally, I have gleaned insight in to the internal structures of an NGO, and the practices that ensure its function; for example, I have benefited the company with my work on sustainability and social media, and utilised my skills to improve the effectiveness of promotions and processes within the NGO. Through mentorship and guidance provided by Asfar, I have gained understanding of how to develop professionally, and how to accurately document and evidence this development. A core example of this professional development is in the curation of a social action project that is a central part of the volunteering scheme. My volunteer partner and I created an educational documentary focusing on young people and social issues in Sarajevo. This endeavour provided scope for me to learn about aspects of reconciliation and peace building, as well as how to present this in an educationally useful format.
In addition, I believe I have hugely benefited from the social and cultural learning opportunities provided by Asfar; in particular this includes having regular Bosnian lessons, working in places throughout the city, and social activities. These factors allowed me to better understand Bosnian attitudes and lifestyles, and meant I got the best experience of working and living abroad from a holistic perspective.
As I think is clear from this brief summary, I am hugely grateful for the wonderful and enriching experience Asfar and the RESOLVE: Network has given me. I have benefitted personally and professionally, and the experience vastly exceeded my expectations. I will undoubtedly be recommending programmes like this to those I know, as I feel this is a unique opportunity that many young people from the UK and beyond would benefit from.