During the turbulent year of 2020/21, VII Academy Sarajevo worked with the next generation of civic leaders in Bosnia and Herzegovina, supporting them on their path of community change making and active citizenship.
Thirty young writers, artists, and community organizers engaged with BOLD, a youth leadership initiative created and supported by the US Embassy in Bosnia and Herzegovina and implemented through VII Academy, Sarajevo, to encourage change, social dialogue and new thinking throughout the country. BOLD participants from all over Bosnia and Herzegovina received training in narrative and documentary practice and civic activism by VII Academy trainers as well as professors from Harvard and Northeastern Universities in the United States. With initial training beginning in February 2020, some of the best and brightest of the country’s young activists were quick to move their projects and engagements online when the pandemic hit. The new regulations and current global situation did not discourage participants from continuing their BOLD projects via online platforms. The situation gave them the push they needed in order to recognize how they can contribute to the community. The dedication, creativity and innovation of VII Academy BOLD project students resulted in project creation and financial support for five BOLD project ideas.
“VII Academy brought together journalists and academics, some local and some from the United States, to teach groups of BOLD students how journalistic principles and media communication skills can be used to highlight contemporary social issues. The BOLD students then identified issues that were important to them, and the VII Academy leadership team worked with them to prepare their proposals and pitches to apply for micro grants from the US Embassy. Emphasising ethics, collaboration and a participatory approach, the workshop teachers taught fact-based writing, photography, and multimedia storytelling as the vehicles for outreach into the community,” says Hasnija Zulić, Operations Manager of VII Academy Sarajevo.
The love tales of couples of different nationalities; migrant workers, refugees and asylum seekers; women’s rights and voices; positive human stories from our community; and access to art for the visually impaired and blind are the projects and topics that the BOLD grantees focused on.
“The five BOLD micro grant projects were awarded to the following women: Hana Sokolovic, Azra Berbic, Ivana Nevesinjac, Ivana Pekusic and Anesa Agovic. They all had to think creatively about how to implement the project goals safely in the time of a pandemic. The project leaders grew in their roles and tackled challenges head on while also having the security of a support structure to turn to for advice. It was exciting to watch these five young women adapt their ideas as things changed around them and to see their leadership skills in action, skills we we hope to see develop further for the future benefit of our country,” stated Mrs. Zulić.
BOLD projects have appeared on-line, in print publications, as street art and in five short films produced by Fiona Turner that premiered at the recent closing reception.