Mirna – Stolac
“WWI ended. WWII ended. Yugoslavia ended and the most recent war ended. This period of time will also come to an end.”
Growing up, education was always the priority. My parents instilled this value so strongly that I chose to study early childhood education at the University of Mostar (Department of Natural Sciences, Mathematics, and Education) where I earned my Master’s degree. My father joked that if I or any of my siblings failed our university exams, we would need to return to Stolac for a year. None of us failed, but I do return home to Stolac whenever I am able. Currently, I work at a kindergarten in Mostar to gain practical experience. It is difficult work, but I am not afraid of work. I worked my first job when I was 13, selling ice cream at the Austro-Hungarian swimming pool in Stolac, which has since closed. Now, rather than suggesting I return home, my father encourages me to find greater opportunities abroad.
Although I do not necessarily believe that BiH provides a space for me to be successful, I am hesitant about taking steps to leave the country. If I had the resources and support, I would stay in BiH and introduce Montessori pedagogy into the local school system. The intent of the Montessori system is to instill in young children a sense of autonomy and independence, while fostering strong communication skills through socialization. It is meaningful that Maria Montessori believed that education is the best weapon for peace; perhaps by implementing changes in the educational system, we could contribute to the transformation of society, starting with our youngest citizens.
BiH requires change, but I am realistic in my expectations. The improvement of our educational system is small in comparison to those our political system requires, which has stagnated from the lack of unified leadership representing all of our people. I believe that most people crave social and economic change; politicians are largely responsible for creating a fragmented and intolerant society which is held back by economic instability. Still, change is slow to arrive. Why? People fear being the first to step out of line to resist the system in which they have no power, even if it is one which we know holds us back.