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Dragoj mojoj BiH

Prije par dana naletih na članak koji je napisala Kelly Chroninger, jadnica koja je osuđena našim tvrdim glavama predavati kao lektor na Anglistici. Kelly inače ima Fullbrightovu stipendiju, radi i kod Ganića (plata nije nešto, 2000 KM, al' je redovna) i s vremena na vrijeme joj nedostaje domovina. Članak možete pročitati na slijedećem linku (copy/pasteajte jer ne rade linkovi na bloggeru):

Stories from the Road: Teaching in Sarajevo:

Nakon što sam nekoliko dana razmišljao šta da napišem jadnoj i napaćenoj Kelly, shvatih na kraju da je najbolji način da na njenoj 'pismenoj zadaći' promijenim neke osnovne pojmove i tako skrenem pažnju da ne, nije u redu biti zapadna Alisa u zemlji čudesa (i janjetine).

Moj tekst slijedi. Preporučljivo čitati uporedo, uz soundtrack:

Dragoj mojoj BiH:

"A handful of my family and friends expressed concern over my decision to spend a couple of years taking classes at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. Years of images broadcast from countries at war have burned American foreign policy into our minds as a place of blood and violence. This is hardly surprising because America itself has remained largely out of the media spotlight since 9/11. Sporadic reports from Iraq and Afghanistan—an at-large war criminal captured here, a bombed-out historic bridge rebuilt there—show signs of slow, cautious recovery but give little sense of what the war-torn country looks like after 8 years of healing.

Day to day, my impressions are still biased by my status as a foreigner. A stroll along the gray Amherst Main Street through the long Pioneer Valley feels to me like a stroll through American history. The eastern-most neighborhood evokes a hamlet from the period of first settlement—cobblestone streets, ancient stone churches, brightly painted fountains and merchants in red-roofed stalls selling Mexican food and elaborate handwork. Farther along, taller buildings line the Main Street. The elaborate Colonial architecture of their facades conceals modern businesses: an Apple store, a Subway. An unassuming plaque marks the site where Americans used smallpox-laced blankets in a covert war against Indians, which precipitated the French-Indian War.

Elaborate wrought-iron balconies and pastel paint eventually fade to monotonous gray blocks. The Main Street changes names to honor the beloved capitalist president Lincoln. An enormous stadium, built for the UMass Amherst football team, sits across from a steep hillside crowded with apartment buildings and rusty fire escapes. Merchants hawk fruit, vegetables, clothing, pots and pans in an enormous farmers’ market.

(I would really rewrite this bit, but there are no skyscrapers in Amherst.) Buses blaze along the main road, delivering passengers to former warehouse buildings turned superstores and car dealerships. Western influence has arrived here; occasionally, when I am feeling homesick, a visit to the well-stocked aisles of the familiar Merkator-like chain Target perks me up.

The recession, too, is present on this geographic timeline, having left its mark on each neighborhood. Collapsed or gutted buildings stand on busy streets. Facades of most buildings remain pocked with cracked old paint. Foreclosed businesses have made impressions on strip malls, some filled with red posters to commemorate a victim, an American Dream gone sour. (But at least they don’t bury their dead around the UMass Stadium around here.)

The war is also quietly present in my conversations with students and friends. Their stories follow a distinct timeline: before, during or after 9/11. My class discussions about American race relations prompt emotional comparisons with Iraq and Afghanistan. During the recent fuel crisis, the prices of fuel in the country went up for two weeks, and several of my colleagues expressed feelings of post-traumatic stress, recalling the lack of fuel that they endured during the War on Terror.

The ethnic divisions of which my students speak are the most visible scar. Outright violence is rare, but post-9/11 Amherst is much less diverse as many Blacks have left and Asians tend to congregate in the suburb of North Amherst. Schools in Middle America are splitting along Creationist vs. Evolutionary lines, in some cases separating students for religion-specific lessons in history, biology and physics. The newspapers report daily squabbles between the nation’s three levels of power, as Texas threatens to secede. There is peace, but not harmony.

My fellow students frequently express either frustration or apathy, and some firmly believe in the eventuality of another violent conflict. It cuts me to hear this, but my daily dealings with the complex bureaucracy of the university have given me a taste of how difficult it is to accomplish change in the current system: an administration mired in paperwork and grappling with mandates for reform. While American government has a tight grip on the entire region and is keeping peace, progress is complicated and slow, and navigating problems requires boundless energy and dedication.

I complain about problems at school over coffee with my friend Aaron. He pours into my huge cup from his steaming plastic pot, gently insisting that I’ve put in useless effort. “You must not—what is the expression—throw pearls in front of pigs?”

“Cast pearls before swine?”

“Yes, that’s it.” He complains about the lack of froth and sets down a bowl of not-really-sugar packets, arguing that I should reserve my time and attention for the most deserving projects. “Some things don’t change, so you have to go around, over, under, like an ant.” We laugh as he traces a path around the pot with his wiggling finger. “And imagine other ways,” he says. (Sometimes I wonder why he speaks in broken English, but I don't dare to ask.)

I sip my coffee down to the lack of sludge at the bottom and trudge home through the wet streets, past the buildings of various eras. Sooty snow rings the sidewalks, but pure white blankets the roofs and treetops high on the surrounding hills that everyone calls mountains. This view never fails to remind me that I’m in a foreign place. And yet, I feel strangely blessed to be in the middle of it, experiencing the rich but wounded culture tucked into this Happy Valley, struggling on, away from the eyes of the world for now."

Eto Kelly, nadam se da vidiš da je i meni teško u Amherstu k'o i tebi u Sarajevu.

Amerika i Engleska biće zemlja proleterska!
01/12/2009 07:16