The idealistic image of America is a place of freedom and individuality, where people from every part of the world have come together to establish a country in which everyone can live as equals. Yet, it seems as if people have become narrow minded and only comprehend their own hardships. Can you imagine your euphoric lifestyle changing within the blink of an eye? In the following paragraphs is the story of a Bosnian youth scared by war and depression. He is strong spirited and kind despite how his ethnic group has been treated by society. Ethnic differences are apparent in America but can you imagine being killed in mass quantities based on your race, or watching the people you love be murdered in the streets by those that were once your neighbors.
In this marginalized society lives a young man by the name of Asmir Korajkic. He is a twenty-one year old college student, who studies hard to hopefully accomplish his new found American dream of becoming an architect. When Asmir came to American on July 23, 1998, he expected all of the United States to be like New York City with tall skyscrapers, when discovering that it was not, he decided to build toward how he perceived America to be by going to school and studying architecture. He works hard to earn money for school and he goes out every Friday night like any other college student, but before he was accepted into this American society he faced heartache and tribulations that should never be experienced by any single human being.
The resent history of Bosnia i Herzegovina began with it being united with five other countries to become a reformed Communist country in 1945. This country is now known as the former Yugoslavia which was heavily influenced by a man named Josip Broz Tito. Tito united these countries to develop a country that was economically stable under the communist party. Then in 1982, Tito died unexpectedly, leaving no one in power over Yugoslavia. Each country had there own leaders and over a period of time the Croatians and Serbians joined together to try and remove the Bosnians out of the land that once use to be Croatia and Serbia. In 1991, the war started in a city called Bijeljua in Bosnia i Herzegovina about six months after the Yugoslavian government became a democracy. Asmir was born in Bijeljua on December 12, 1982, and until the war began he can recall a lifestyle that was as euphoric as the typical American family lives today (Kirajkic).
Asmir remembers graphic memories of his traumatic childhood, which began one day, when he was eight years old, when his father returned home from work early. He began covering the windows so that it looked like they were not home, explaining to his family that things were going to be different know that they were in a war. His family called them telling them to go to a shelter where they stayed that night. It consisted of a huge basement with no lights or water and guards having to stand watch. The Serbians and Croatians had planes and chemical warfare, while the Bosnians were not prepared for the months ahead. He remembers his father and uncle getting rifles from other Bosnians that were former police officers or soldiers so that they could defend their city. The Bosnian people did not know that the city was surrounded by tanks and soldiers and that there was no way out. “Everyone thought it was a joke; no one believed that we were in the middle of a war” (Kirajkic).
On the other side of town his Aunt, Uncle and cousins were asleep unaware of what was going on. When gun shots and screaming awoke them and when his Uncle went out side to see what it was he saw adults and children both getting there throats cut with large serrated knifes by the Cetnik. The Cetnik were Serbians and Croatians that were paid to kill Bosnians and rob their homes. When his uncle began to yell at these men they shot him across the chest in front of his five year old son and wife. After this occurred his aunt and cousins came to stay with him and his family for the next seven months. The Cetnik would come daily to their homes and threaten them telling them they’ll be back that night, if they returned and you were in your home, they would kill everyone in the house. Each night, before ten o’clock, his family would get their belongings and go somewhere else to sleep. They would go were families had already been killed, usually his own family members and neighbors. After ten o’clock it was called “police hour” (Kirajkic), anyone, no matter what your ethnicity who was caught out after this time was murdered in the streets by snipers sitting on top of buildings. Then during the day the soldiers would randomly pick neighborhoods through out the city and pick up those that were out of there homes and throw them in concentration camps. They usually kill the men and take the women and children to these camps.
For the whole time that Asmir was in Bosnia his father escaped to Germany to work to raise enough money to get his family out of Bosnia. All the money that was in their banks was gone and the cash that they had during this time had no value because the currency had changed. The first six months that Asmir had to stay in Bosnia there was no water or electricity and they tried paying their way out of the country six times. He remembers one time when they were trying to escape a soldier empted his gun and gave it to a five year old boy and asked him what he would do with it and he pointed the gun at the soldier and pulled the trigger, the soldier laughed and said, ‘Even little kids know who they have to kill’ (Kirajkic). The seventh time that they tried leaving after eight months of living in this war they were able to escape. He went to Germany and lived in a camp, for three months, with other Bosnians that had escaped their homes and had no where else to go. Asmir said that the first two years he did not even try learning German because they had though that they would be able to return home soon.
The war ended in 1996 and through out his time in Germany he was very mean to most of the kids in school. He picked fights with everyone because he was afraid of the fact that his neighbors that he once was friends with turned over night and started killing his family and friends. It took him a while to realize that the German people were very kind and wanted to be his friends. He says that the only reason he is as nice as he is today is because of the Germans who were very kind to him after all he had been through (Kirajkic). Asmir lived in Germany for eight years until he was 17 years old when he moved to America. He has had to be emerged into two different cultures and has had to learn their languages and customs.
Society places a large pressure on those that are from a different ethic group, culture, sex, religion, or age, and does not actually sit back and look at the person in general. It is hard to imagine a place where if you go out after a certain time you will be shot in the streets. I have worked with Asmir for three months and I always thought he was a young man from Bosnia. I never could imagine him seeing the things he has seen and experiencing something so irrational. He had to take his lifestyle that he had become so familiar with and adjust to what was going on around him simply because of the race that he was born into.
Korajkic, Asmir. Personal Interview. 19 November 2004.