October 7, 2008
Seminar on Faith and Community with Youth Leaders from the Balkans
The Berkley Center hosted a dialogue with youth leaders from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and Serbia, who were visiting the U.S. through a State Department-sponsored program that seeks to strengthen the role that clerics, educators, and community leaders – influential forces among youth groups – play in creating religious tolerance and understanding. The International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX) hosts the program, "Faith and Community: A Dialogue,"
to provide opportunities for youth leaders of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, and Serbia, and the United States to better understand each other.
Antonio Aras majored in Theology and has worked for 5 years as a theology teacher in the ethnically mixed community of Vrsac. During that period he has developed ecumenical cooperation between Roman Catholic and Evangelist churches in the area. He has worked on expanding his knowledge about civil society development and has participated in workshops focusing on the improvement of multicultural communication. Currently, he is attending post-graduate school in Austria. His dissertation topic explores opportunities for the use of the psychological methods during the church related confessions.
Emanuela Bori comes from Sarajevo. She is a senior at Sarajevo University, majoring in Philosophy within the Pedagogic Department. She is active in the pastoral youth center “Ivan Pavao II” in Sarajevo. She works on planning and leading the Center’s activities, projects, workshops involving high school and university students in Sarajevo.
eljko ?urica is a Christian Orthodox priest in Livno. He was born in Bosansko Grahovo. He is married and has two children.
Salih Hadžismajlović was born in 1982 in Trebinje, BH. During the war he was a refugee in Zagreb where he completed high school. Currently he is a senior at Zagreb University, majoring in Math Science. He is also working as a math professor at the Zagreb Medresa “Dr. Ahmed Smajlovic” and is a member of the board of Zagreb Youth Muslim Club. This is a non-profit organization that exists since the 1970s and its vision is to be able to provide a safe space for youth and promote education, so that the country can integrate in the EU but not assimilate, without losing their religious and national identity.
?aba Kova? lives with his wife and three children and is a permanent Roman Catholic Deacon. He also works as a high school religious studies teacher and is a Radio Marija- Catholic radio coordinator in Subotica. He works with youth media volunteers. He participated in several programs dealing with the issues related to youth and media. These programs’ activities always had an important component addressing ecumenical and multi-religious dialogue.
Jasmina Mehmedovi?, is working in the Pedagogic Center in Tuzla and is a Civitas certified trainer in civic education and human rights. She is also an art therapist and she participates in Peaceful Dances and Non-violent Communication activities based on the teachings of Marshall Rosenberg.
Nedeljko (Drago) Simi? was born in 1977 in Ljubovija, Serbia. Currently he lives in Srebrenica and is the coordinator of the Youth Center. He is also president of the youth umbrella organization Youth Council Srebrenica. He is currently a sophomore at the University of Banja Luka, majoring in business administration. He has organized and participated in activities dealing with topics related to non violent communication, political activism, multi-religious dialogue, etc.
Mersiha Smaji? graduated from the Law Faculty at the University of Sarajevo and has completed interdisciplinary studies Democracy and Human Rights organized by University of Sarajevo and Bologna University in Italy. She has participated in activities relevant for this program but organized by NDI, OHRO, and USIP.
Hasan Spahi? was born in 1951 in D. Rainci. He completed medresa and majored in Oriental Studies at Belgrade University. He is currently working at the Islamic Center in Tuzla and is director of Medzlis. He is the president of the center working on the rehabilitaion of former drug addicts in Smoluca. He published his work in numerous journals and Islamic Center publications.
Igor Ujhazi has been an activist in the Jewish Center in Novi Sad for the past 10 years. The last seven years he has also been working as a journalist and participated as JDC’s representative in the Peace March in Israel and Poland in 2007. His most important interview was with the director of Jerusalem Center, Mr. Simon Vizental Efraim Zurof.