Sunday, July 31, 2016


Reminds me of Alexandria Egypt. And there's a great reason for that, since Alex was founded by the hero of this part of Greece especially! -- Alexander the Great. (We visited his father's and his son's royal tombs today in Vergina) 

And yesterday we toured the major highlights of the City. 

Below, the Rotunda: a Roman temple for a time, which later served as a mosque during the Ottoman period. Now back to serving as a church with regular services on Sunday's. 

Above: Mustafa Kemal (Ataturk) home - he lived here around 12-13 years. 

Below: Constantinos, our beloved guide around Thessaloniki. 

Monday, July 25, 2016

Belgrade - so much to catch up on!

It's been over a week since I've posted anything; so much to write about, but too damned busy to do so!  instead, i'll put up as many pics as possible.

Today, we had a tour of the Serbian parliament plus a lecture by a Political Economist at U-Belgrade, Dušan Pavlović, who is also a member of Parliament (and a harsh critic of the ruling party as well as the corruption and unfairness rampant in the political and economic system of his great country).

And here's our guide for the morning explaining the national Crest/Coat of Arms of Serbia 

Monday, July 18, 2016

Srebrenica - connecting Anne Frank (1945) to Srebrenica (1995)

Enroute from Sarajevo to Belgrade, we made the most important visit of our program thus far, to Potocari Memorial of the Srebrenica massacre/genocide of July 1995.  Our visit occurred 21 years almost to the exact day when the killing fields of Srebrenica ended.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Haggadah and National Museum

Our last day in Sarajevo. I gave students the day to explore on their own, with a "scavenger hunt" as a guide. Many went up to the 1984 Olympics Bobsled "chute". Others went to the Srebrenica photo exhibit (before we go to the Potocari memorial tomorrow). 

And others of us went to the National Museum where the highlight is the Haggadah. 

Friday, July 15, 2016

PSOTC and Parliament visit in Bosnia-Herzegovina

Yesterday (Thursday 14 July), we were hosted by the Commandant of the Peace Support Operations Training Center (PSOTC) in Sarajevo.  PSOTC is very proud to have received a quality assurance accreditation by NATO.  We visited PSOTC last year as well, and we're very happy to have added this Bosnian military education and training center to our regular Balkans Dialogue itinerary.

And today (Friday), we had a very busy day in Sarajevo.  We started at the World Bank's office in BiH and received an absolutely brilliant economic briefing by the Country Manager for Bosnia-Herzegovina, Ms. Tatiana Proskuryakova.  (Praying for her power point!)

Then, we walked one block over to the BiH Parliament and had an equally brilliant political analysis by Mr. Senad Šepić, a self-described "dissident" within the dominant Bosniak party, the SDA (the Party of Democratic Action), led by Bosniak president Bakir Izetbegović.  Here we are at the entrance to Parliament (with a couple of US Army folks who just happened to walk by and were happy to "photo bomb" our group shot with the MP!).

After this visit, we made our way to the US Embassy for a briefing on politics, security, and public diplomacy/public engagement with 3 Embassy staff.

And after that, we all left and got soaked in the worst rain we've had all week!  Still, it didn't dampen our spirits (so to speak :-)

Saturday, July 9, 2016

White Fortress above Sarajevo

A long hike up to a nearby hill/mountain above Sarajevo. 

Ma'a salaama Jordan, Dobrodošli Sarajevo!

Jordan Dialogue 2016 is "done and dusted".  Amman was tough to leave (only for the friends left behind, whom I shall see again!) and Sarajevo was an absolute joy to arrive!  

Balkans Dialogue 2016 has begun!  Our first full day in Sarajevo started with a walking tour with the amazing Enes, tour guide from Spirit Tours - courtesy of Ms. Maja Osmanagić, our logistics/tour partner here in Bosnia.  I'll share just a couple of pictures of our tour, and add more later today.

In 2 hours, after the "procession of the remains" (where the most recently identified remains of those massacred at Srebrenica are driven to their final resting place), I'm taking the students to the "White Fortress" for the best view of Sarajevo, and the best visual of how this beautiful city could so easily have been like a "sitting duck" to Bosnian Serb forces - those who created "the longest siege of a capital city in modern history, and produced the worst atrocities in Europe since World War II." (NPR, April 2012)  The siege last 1,425 days (April 5, 1992 - February 29, 1996), nearly 14,000 people were killed - among these were 5,500 civilians, and among these around 1,500 children were killed.  

There it is - the siege, massacres, genocide, war crimes ... the underlying history and overarching narrative, even as everyone is eager to go forward, move beyond, build a future, enjoy life.  All of this is what we are learning and want to share.