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Notes from Abroad: Finn in the Balkans
Notes from Abroad is a new feature on the Off-Campus Programs website, in which we highlight small snippets of a student’s experience. This week’s feature is from Finn Bunta ’18 a Political Science major and minor in Legal Studies and Math is currently studying abroad with SIT Peace and Conflict Studies in the Balkans (Serbia, Bosnia, Kosovo).
I wish you the best from Belgrade, Serbia where I am studying peace & conflict and journalism. I have been covering the refugee crisis in particular and volunteering with a local NGO called Refugee Foundation Serbia. There I teach Afghani children English and math, while they tell me about crossing the world. It has been an incredibly humbling experience since I always learn more from them than they do from me. I have attached a picture of myself standing with five of my friends from Afghanistan. They live in a tent in a parking garage, but they still offered me bread, tea, and clean cardboard to sit on with them. They walked to Belgrade from Tehran, Iran. I hope they reach their families in England, Germany, and Belgium soon. I am publishing stories on the refugee plight here in the region, in addition to many more sensitive topics the US media refuses to show us.
This past week I was studying in Prishtina, Kosovo and next week I will be traveling to Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Our program includes these nations too because we are interested in peace and conflict studies in the region as a whole. In April, my classes end and I will be working on an feature-length cover story in the region of my choosing under the tutelage of professional journalists.
Something that has surprised me is that someone can never be lonely in Serbia. The people care for one another, they talk cordially on the streets and in the markets constantly, and random people help me pronounce my Serbian. There is a true existence of genuine camaraderie here.
Living with a host family is amazing! My mother cooks something new and exciting for me to try every day. I watch my favorite basketball team (Denver Nuggets) with my host father (who likes the Serbian superstar who plays for them). And my host brother and I gave each other (awful) haircuts, so life at home is really fun.
I study Math and Politics at Lake Forest College and I want to go to law school after I graduate. I greatly believe this experience will help me achieve the future I envision for myself, and I want to thank you ever so greatly for the scholarship you gave me that made this possible.