Youth Leadership Program

IDEA at Willamette University

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Saturday, April 23 »

This was the warmest day this spring in Salem and thanks to Ivana’s and my host family, one of the best days of our lives.

We started our day with breakfast, and strawberries of course. Our first goal was to go to Mary’s Peak, a place from which we could see the ocean , Willamette valley and other mountains. It sounds like a heaven on earth. We drove for two hours to get there and when we almost reached the top of mountain, we saw snow. Even though it was such a sunny day, there was so much snow that we could not pass through any further. That was only 2 miles away from our final destination and we were very disappointed. But that didn’t stop our host family from making this day perfect. We took some pictures on the snow and we decided our new destination. I think you’ll never guess what was our next plan.

It was to go on to the coast!! From mountains on one side to the Oregon coast on another.

The tour began in Cape Foulweather, at a place known for Captain Hook. In a little shop, Ginny bought rings for me and Ivana and we love them. Al bought postcards for us so we will never forget this trip. Little things to remind us on this wonderful day.

On our way to the next destination we stopped in Nepoe Bay, and then we went on dinner at Fogarty Creek. The food was so delicious and view on the coast was amazing. After we filled our bellies, we went on the beach nearby and wrote our names in the sand. We took some really nice pictures there.

Our last destination was Jaft beach in Lincoln City. It was too good to describe. We were playing with the waves; we ran away from them and we even got wet.  We watched seagulls and seals in the water that were only like 15 meters away from us. They were so cute. People were coming with their families or friends, they made beach fires and really enjoyed spending time on the beach, and I was really jealous that we couldn’t stay any longer. It was late already and we had to go home. On our way home Ivana and I sang. We never sing in public, so you can imagine how happy we were.

Thank you Al and Ginny for making this day perfect!

Congratulations to the Debate Finalists! »

The following students earned the highest speaker points, and have been selected to compete in the championship debate during the Youth Leadership Festival on Tuesday, April 26:

Affirmative Team
   Shamir (Willamette Academy)

Negative Team
   Andrea (Willamette Academy)

Congratulations to these finalists, and to all the students from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Willamette Academy who put in much effort and hard work during the debate tournament!

Thursday, April 21 »

Today was actually a sad day because Prof. Gutterman wasn’t there.

But we had a special guest speaker, Honorable Rebecca Duncan.  She was talking with us about the Judicial system and how we should see the differences between BOSNIAN system and AMERICAN system.

Wellllll, we found a lot of similar things which surprised me but there are still some things that we could change (and now we know how) to make the system less corrupt.

So that is another thing that enriched my general  knowledge.

After that we had a great conversation with Prof. Cordova and a lot of cute pictures, of course.

Every day is a great day and the fact that we have only 5 days left in Salem is making me sad but we’re going to enjoy it and look forward to visiting Washington DC.

Wednesday, April 20 »

Hello! I’m Boro,one who always smiles. These days, I have a good reason for that; I’ve met some great people here in America and have no other reason but to enjoy with the rest of the YLP 2011 crew.

Today we were at West Salem High School. We came there in the morning, 8:30 am. At the first steps, we saw how big and glamorous it is. At about 9:00, we had meeting with the “Students for change” group (we met most of them yesterday at Willamette). Each of us had an American student and we spent the rest of the day with our assigned partners. They took us on their classes, activities and lunch. It was interesting, encountering some new and different stuff. Americans have different approach to knowledge- they favor practice in front of the theory. I could do every calculation and task on their test, but I felt sad when I had seen them burning gasses on chemistry class. Students in Bosnia & Herzegovina just don’t have a chance to do that. In this high school, they also work in stores, bank office, learn how to cook (mmmm), so they can be productive when they finish education.

At the end of the classes, we had a group meeting again and we also had snacks and gifts. Then, we went to a track meeting and had fun watching different stuff. As usual we departed home at 5:30.

As for me, this evening with my lovely host family was full of fun as many others were. We were playing ping pong,”Ten thousand game” (dice game), joking, smiling and just being happy together. Don’t worry,be happy! (It’s good for health)

Thank you West Salem!

walking across sky


Tuesday, April 19: The Day Was Great »

The day was great… We (three teachers without the students) visited Sprague High School, the school where Dijana Ihas works. She welcomed us and took us to the teacher’s room to meet their colleagues. They were very friendly, so we had lunch together and discussed about the school systems in Bosnia and the States. We agreed on that all of us should be paid more, lol. Dijana served us the cake she made just for us, but while I was answering the teachers’ questions, Valentina and Janja ate the whole cake, and I got a very small piece, can you believe that?!? After that we attended Dijana’s class, and it was really impressive how those kids played their instruments. We had the concert organized and performed just for ourselves, what an honour!!! Then we attended more classes. The school is nice, and the kids are fine. The only difference between our and their school system that I saw was the equipment and other facilities. I mean, they have great sports facilities, and the school has its own theater with a stage for drama classes..!  Dijana was great, we talked a lot about the life in the States and Bosnia, customs, food, people…  The last class we visited was really awesome. When we came in, the students and their teacher were watching some historical facts about our country on the screen. They wanted to learn something about our history so they could ask some questions. It was obvious that they were really excited about our visit. So they asked some questions about our country, and the recent war. We answered them, but it seemed that they didn’t really understand what had been going on in Bosnia during the war. I don’t blame them… Sometimes I myself don’t understand how it could have happened… And I didn’t feel like talking about the war, so I talked about the things that we all agree on, such as an importance of living and working together. Let’s leave the recent past aside for a while, and let’s take care of our present and our future.

When we had to leave, they gave us a gift, T-shirts with the Sprague high School logo. I was really happy, seeing those kids how excited and positive they were… When we came back to the university, we attended the West Salem High School’s Students for Change presentation on human trafficking in the Ford Hall building. Those students and their presentation were amazing!!! They did that so professionally, with such a passion and dedication. We were touched by the presentation. We also enjoyed in the song “Amazing Grace”, performed by a mixed choir, they were so good… I’m really impressed by the students I met here, and by their engagement in service and humanitarian projects.

The last classes of that day were classes with professor Trapp, and the debate. The students were divided into groups, and the debate began. We were the judges. It was difficult for me to decide which group was better, they all were good. Anyway, I had to decide, and so I did. The so-called negative team (Shamir, Jasmin and Sandra) were somehow more than affirmative team consisted of Ana, Ivana V. and Victor (sorry guys…). Anyway, I told them that next time they should bribe me, so I could decide easer. Seriously, the kids were doing fine, because their debating skills improvement is so obvious. In the evening, my host family and I had guests: Valentina, Janja and their host Gloria. My host family invited them for dinner. Everything was great, we had fun, the only thing I didn’t like was that Valentina and Janja ate everything again, they literally emptied our fridge! I think that I should complain to Elizabeth about that, it’s so unfair… but I won’t, because she would probably take their side, as always…

So, that’s all folks, all the abovementioned characters are not fictional, yet some parts of the story I may have made up. So stay cool, stay positive, put some smiles on your faces, ‘cause tomorrow is a new day, and everything is possible.

Sunday, April 17 »

I had an interesting and amazing day, that I will always remember. After we had breakfast, Janja, Ann and I went on a picnic. We drove to visit Ann’s best friend, Sara.

The most fascinating thing for me was that we were driving through a beautiful forest. It is one nice road that impressed us, so we stopped a few times to take pictures.

When we arrived to Sara’s house we took her dog and went walking. We were walking near the forest and we saw beautiful flowers and different kinds of trees. I learned something new about trees in that forest.

When we went home and we had a dinner. I have to say that Ann is a great cook. After dinner, we watched a movie and had alot of fun. That will be all from me.

Friday, April 15: The Only Rainy Day…Not :) »

Hi! My name is Ivana Nedic and I will write for you something about Friday. Friday was a very interesting day; instead of classes we had a service project on the Oregon coast. We traveled for two hours to get to the Oregon coast. First, we had an introduction with 3 people from Surfrider Foundation and they lead  us to the beach where we  cleaned the beach and  collected the water quality samples. We cleaned up plastic from the coast and three of us, Leijla, Neven, Almin, went into the ocean to take some water samples.

The weather was horrible, it was very cold and raining like crazy. We had raincoats but still we were completely wet. Because of that, all of us were nervous and angry.

The next activity that we had was a visit at the Oregon Coast Aquarium. This improved our mood but it would have been better if we weren’t all wet. The Oregon Coast Aquarium was wonderful, the animals are beautiful and interesting. The most interesting part was the open pool and in it were animals that you can touch. Also interesting, was a part with big marine crustaceans and snakes.

We left two or three hours earlier than planned because we were wet, uncomfortable and tired. Friday was a really long and tiling day but I liked it.

Thursday, April 14 »

So what to tell? The weather was terrible – if the weather is not good neither am I…so that tells everything.

Today we had classes and also we had to give our proposals for our follow-on project to Hilary.

The interesting thing was that we were watching a movie at Professor Gutterman’s class. The movie was talking about the situation in South Africa in the 1990’s. The movie had some really stressful scenes. In that time, people were fighting against Apartheid (a system of legal racial segregation enforced by the National Party government of South Africa ). Many people died in a very bad act of police…also in some protests against Apartheid. Many of the police applied for amnesty (A kind of court in which you don’t go to jail for your crime, but the point is that you must confess everything.) So the film was pretty good.

Yeah, I forgot to tell one good thing, and that is Debate. We were practicing our affirmative speech…It was funny…So that’s all folks.

Tomorrow, we are going on coast…Bad weather again. Bye…..

Wednesday, April 13 »

This was the first night that I managed to get some sleep. I got up, opened my window and everything was perfect. The sun was shining, the creek looked beautiful and some squirrels were jumping in front of the house. I had some strawberries and whipped cream for breakfast and I was ready to go. The first stop, like every morning, was Gatke Hall. We separated into two groups, one went to Meals on Wheels and mine group went to Union Gospel Mission. 

My expectation were very different than what it was actually like. I expected to see a lot of people who stopped caring about their lives. At one point, I started to think, “How did they become homeless in the first place?” I thought that it was all their fault, but what if they lost their job and didn’t have enough money to pay the bank or something like that? There were a lot of drug addicts or former ones. We actually met two men who experienced the addiction and overcame it. Now they are helping the ones who come to shelter.

I thought that the UGM was just about giving a place to sleep but it way more than that. They have a special program that helps them. UGM provides them to get their High School diploma and after that they teach them how to write the application for the job, how to dress up for the interview, and how to act at the interview. Union Gospel Mission is in one way the last chance to succeed in life.

The whole of UGM is based on volunteers and donations. It doesn’t have any help from the government, the volunteers do all the work. Bakeries give bread to them and some people help them with their studies, they also provide them clothes.

We were doing something useful today, we were serving meals. The feeling was great, just knowing that you are doing some positive thing. You can’t imagine the feeling when you give them their nice hot meal and their big smile comes up. You learn that you can brighten somebody’s day just by giving people something to eat. This is the experience I will never forget.

We went back to Willamette. It was time for Cordova’s class. It was a really good one. We were talking about nationalism, is it good or bad? What is better for the country or for the world? Those are the questions that don’t have the answer, you can only discuss them. There are always different opinions and that is what made this class interesting.

After that, we all went home. My host parents, Furtwanglers, brought me and Ines to a great Chinese buffet. I’ve tried a lot of different things. There were a lot of mixtures, like sweet chicken. Personally, I really liked it. The shrimp were the best. This was the one of the days when you feel that it can’t get better than this.

Tuesday, April 12 »

Hi there, as you can see I have been working on my blog. Ready?

It has not been a typical Willamette schedule because some classes for the teachers have been cancelled. Very unusual, but everything turned out to be just fine. We had enough time to filter all the information and to question ourselves, not to mention the valuable time we had to get in touch with our loved ones.

We woke up earlier to attend a Willamette class which happened not to be held. Too bad! If only we had known earlier…

Next class: Professor Gutterman challenged us to think about civil religion, meaning emotional or rational patriotism.

“There are epochs in the life of a nation when neither emotional nor rational patriotism is felt”.

People from Bosnia who are experiencing this — there is still hope for us. We have learned today with the example of Martin Luther King that civil religion has the capacity to change over time.

Next class: Professor Steve Rhine and we (the teachers) engaged in a wonderful conversation about multiple intelligences and how to use them efficiently in a classroom. On the way to The School of Education Adnan and I had to face the fact that our spatial intelligence is not developed at all. Guess why? Ok,ok, we got lost! Again! (Dramatizing a shameful condition- remember this? Gutterman’s class!). Don’t laugh and cheer yet. Our Professor Steve had some good news for us though –everyone has all the intelligences, we can strengthen them and they are meant to empower, not to label people. Just a little work on the spatial one…

Nacho’s class: We tried to find answers on how to participate in a democratic society in order to strengthen it, to tell the difference between civil society and civic communities and what to do to increase trust and goodwill (four characteristics of successful democratic regions).

One thing I have learned about democracy is that it can’t exist on its own, it needs us to take the risk and act as bearers of rights as well as community members, to compromise and sacrifice for it! It is a risk, but the greatest risk is if we don’t act at all (and just eat ice-cream).