Recently I shared the story of my return to New Orleans, where I spent time after Hurricane Katrina in support of Tulane University. This summer, I had another flashback to a significant international experience when I was asked to moderate a discussion with Mitar Kujundzic, the ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) to the United States.
It has been six years since I’ve been in the country, where I helped to establish the Sarajevo Graduate School of Businessfrom 2004-2006. SGSB was the first school in BiH to offer an MBA program, something the country sorely needed to help develop a trained managerial core.
Over two years I visited Sarajevo about ten times. I’m proud to say that we enrolled roughly 20 students in our first student cohort, just months after we were granted the USAID contract.
There was a real, palpable tension on the ground in 2004, with obvious signs of the war that had ended nine years earlier. I saw many “Sarajevo roses,” or imprints on walls and in the ground left behind from mortar explosions. It was also my first significant time in a predominantly Muslim country. My experience being there left a lasting impression.
When I met Ambassador Kujundzic at the Rumi Forum event last month, he spoke of “social harmony” in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which was gratifying to hear. I would not say that was the case while I was there, but I would love to return and see firsthand the progress that their society and economy have made.
Thank you to the Rumi Forum for the opportunity to revisit such an important time in my career. To those of you interested, you can listen to a podcast of our conversation here.