By Ema Talam, a university student from Bosnia and Herzegovina
This summer, I was fortunate enough to be selected as one of 16 participants from the Western Balkans to participate in a program for university students and young professionals, age 20 through 30, organized by The Rotary Club of Oslo Vest, Norway, and supported by other Rotary clubs throughout Norway and the Western Balkans.
When I boarded the plane on 15 June, I did not know that this was going to be one of the most interesting summers of my life. I didn’t know much about Rotary and I knew only a little about the Young Friends program I was about to attend. But I can honestly say, after the seven weeks, I am richer in knowledge, and know more about human rights and the use of dialogue to build peace.
The first week we spent at Nansen Academy in the small, cozy town of Lillehammer, Norway. Scholarship recipients from the Western Balkans met with Peace Scholars from the United States of America. All of us had an opportunity to interact and learn how dialogue can be used in conflict and post-conflict areas and how it helps to bridge ethnic, religious, cultural, national, or any other dissimilarities between human beings.
The remaining six weeks were spent at the International Summer School organized by the University of Oslo in Oslo, Norway, where we joined approximately 550 other students at the school. It was wonderful meeting young people from all over the world. I have never encountered such diversity. We had many opportunities for personal growth, in addition to our lesson plans, and chances to see other important cities in Norway like Fredrikstad and Drøbak.
This opportunity provided by Rotary members in Norway and the Balkans has given me a great desire to find and join a local Rotaract club, so I can pursue friendships with people from all around the globe.