National Committee Spotlight – EYP Bosnia and Herzegovina

We bring you more from our National Committee (NC) Spotlight series! Today, we put focus on EYP Bosnia and Herzegovina. We asked volunteers Arijel, Ilma, and Naira to share with us their experience with EYP Bosnia and Herzegovina, and all the things that makes the NC unique!

Can you tell us a bit about yourself? Do you remember how you got involved in the EYP?

Arijel: Heyo, I’m Arijel, and I’m soon-to-be 22! Fun fact about me: I was born on May 9th, which is Europe day! I’m a student of International Relations and European studies, also involved in political, youth, and human rights activism through many different spheres. My first session was in 2018, and I had no idea how much the EYP is going to influence my life, up to that point in my life, it was the most unique and energising experience I’ve ever had, I just remember wanting to keep going, and – now we’re here!

Ilma: I’m Ilma, and I’m a 23-year-old law student from Bosnia and Herzegovina. My younger sister, who was a long-time active member, encouraged me to try something new and got me engaged in the EYP. I decided to give the EYP a shot, and I’ve never looked back.

Naira: Hi, I am Naira, I’m 18 years old and currently attending my last year of high school. I got involved in the EYP through a small-scale event that was organised in my hometown. I remember forcing my friend to come with, she didn’t like it so I was left alone by the start of the second day. I apparently enjoyed it so much that I am still here, three years later after my first EYP experience.

What is your role in your National Committee and what do you like most about it?

Arijel: I’m the President of our NC, and I can definitely say that the role forces me to be a better version of myself every day. I’m pushed out of my comfort zone, but I am also supported and encouraged in a way I didn’t initially think I would be. I think my experience definitely goes to show that a leader can also be made; inspired by their team, and by the people who support them, and everyone involved in the NC has made this experience wonderful for me, however challenging it may be, and for that, I’m truly thankful.

Ilma: I’ve been a member since 2019 and I held the position of the NC Board Member in the 20/21 mandate, as of 2022 I joined the Supervisory Board of EYP Bosnia and Herzegovina. I gave my everything to this NC whilst I was the board member, and I really wanted to stay involved somehow, watch the members I brought In, grow up and shine. I like that I have the opportunity to share my knowledge with the current board and be of some kind of help to my National Committee.

Naira: I am currently an NC Board member working on PR and Communications. I like the creativity and freedom I get through this position as well as the opportunity to give back to an organisation that has done so much for me. After three years in the organisation, it has been exciting to take on this role and see a different perspective to our NC.

Is there a unique perspective you bring into the National Committee?

Arijel: The role that I have in my Committee is deeply meaningful to me. You don’t see many persons with disabilities in leadership-oriented positions, not in the NGO sectors that don’t concern human rights, not generally in Bosnia and Herzegovina, not really anywhere in the world when you think about it. When it comes tom really influential positions, we are boxed into the human rights sphere. We know much more, and our skills expand beyond the willingness to fight for our rights. I guess that just goes to show that the fight isn’t nearly over yet, but I hope to see significant progress during my lifetime, and hope to contribute to it. 

Naira: In my opinion I believe each member of the NC, including myself, is able to bring their own EYP story, their own motivation that pushes them to not only continue doing the EYP but also bring that wave of energy to others in the NC.

What is special (or just out of the ordinary) about your National Committee? What helps it stand out in our network?

Arijel: I think that the culture of hospitality, and warmth, and joy, and if I may say, phenomenal food, is what truly sets us apart. I think that everyone that decides to visit us will not only feel the unique spirit of EYP BiH, but truly the warmth that radiates throughout the country. After all, Bosnia and Herzegovina is nicknamed “the heart-shaped land” for a reason.

Ilma: There are so many aspects that differentiate EYP Bosnia and Herzegovina apart from the other NCs that listing them all would take me days. The people in the Bosnian NC are what pulled me in and kept me in the EYP. It’s the connections we develop with each other that truly create those long-term friendships and partnerships. Everyone at EYP Bosnia and Herzegovina is familiar with one another and supports one another in their endeavours.

Naira: It is most definitely making sure a trip to our session be worthwhile. I believe foreigners but also our own members coming to our session always have an amazing time due to the hospitality our NC gives them. We are always excited to show them what the country and our NC has to offer. We go that extra mile to make sure by the end of the session they feel that wish to come back and visit us again. Also, does a special version of alele count as well?

Tell us about one activity of your National Committee that you are most proud of.

Arijel: I’m thinking back to the Regional Session in Bihać 2019. It was only a regional session in a medium-sized city in BiH (which also happens to be my hometown), but it brought together EYPers from Ukraine, Turkey, Austria, the UK, Slovenia, Serbia, and of course Bosnia and Herzegovina. Bihać is truly wonderful, with its cultural landmarks, the river Una, the nature, and I felt so proud that so many people from almost every corner of Europe came to see it, on a very personal level, that session means so much to me, even today, almost three years later.

Ilma: I’m most proud of how my NC approaches session safety. We place a high priority on participant safety and making everyone feel at ease and secure while visiting our NC. We are proud of our hospitality and the enormous efforts we make to ensure that EYP Bosnia and Herzegovina is that one NC that seems like a second home to you and that you want to return to again and again.

What impact do you think EYP initiatives hold on young people and on your community?

Ilma: I can talk from my own personal experience and what the EYP has provided for me. Many young people, including myself, I feel, are always looking for a higher purpose in life; they want to be a part of something and meet like-minded peers. The Network provides us with an environment where we may meet others who share our aims, views, and hobbies, as well as express our opinions and ideas with people who wish to listen and participate in these essential debates.

Naira: The EYP has had a huge impact on my life and I can only imagine others have experienced the same. For me, it is a safe space through which you can always be heard. It shapes you as a person, makes you open-minded, offers you a platform to engage in meaningful debate and above all helps you make incredible connections and friendships. Its impact can be seen through all the qualities and skills you gain and ones that you can later pass on to others and your community as a whole.