RE-CONNECT 2003

Author: COMMUNITY OF BOSNIA
Uploaded: Thursday, 23 January, 2003

The Community of Bosnia (see description below) offers summer internships in B-H to Bosnians and Herzegovinians who are students at, or graduates from, universities outside Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Since 1994, COB has brought nearly 70 young Bosnians to the United States and helped them complete their secondary and/or higher education. Two years ago, we changed our mission and became focused on reconnecting U.S.-educated Bosnians with Bosnia-Herzegovina (BH). The change in COB's focus seemed particularly appropriate in light of the continued "brain-drain" of Bosnian talent and the country's conservative educational system. We developed an original Re-Connect program that enables Bosnians in the United States (and elsewhere) to reengage with their country and help its redevelopment by working for Bosnian organizations/businesses and by volunteering as teachers of computers and English for disadvantaged Bosnians.

This past summer, through Re-Connect, 20 highly qualified Bosnians went to BH to work for companies and organizations in five Bosnian cities. The program, which was covered by 40 local and international media organizations, was an overwhelming success that expanded on the accomplishments of past years' smaller programs. Interns reported an increased sense of connection to BH, professionally and personally, and achievements in their work places that made a contribution to these organizations. Employers rated the program and the interns highly, and almost universally want to continue or expand their involvement in future years. Policy-makers, especially Lord Paddy Ashdown, the new High Representative for BH, view Re-Connect as a model response to
the "brain-drain" of Bosnian talent.

The goals we would like to achieve with Re-Connect:

· Some of our interns/volunteers will decide to stay in BH indefinitely or for a prolonged period of time (for some of them, the intention indeed is to use our program as a stepping stone for their gradual comeback). This already happened last year, when Belma Ejupovic, the only intern who had already graduated before entering the program, refused an excellent offer from a multinational corporation in Los Angeles to return to BH. Belma began participating in a challenging task of drafting the development strategy for BH, a major project supervised by the state Council of Ministers and the World Bank. 26-year-old Belma is now the Deputy Head for the Office of Coordinator for Development Strategy of Bosnia-Herzegovina.

· Even if our interns/volunteers do not decide to return to BH, they will establish professional and peer networks that will encourage them to stay productively engaged in the rebuilding of their country. In addition, Re-Connect will enable COB to create a strong network of highly skilled Bosnians on both sides of the Atlantic. Such a network will represent a pool of talent and skills from which productive business and social initiatives will emerge.

· Re-Connect can become a proto-type for similar efforts in BH. This past summer Re-Connect interns contributed to public dialogue on the development strategy of BH by organizing a government-sponsored workshop on preventing the ongoing "brain-drain." They put forward the concept of a career center at Bosnian universities, and the idea of an expanded internship/fellowship program-similar to Re-Connect-under the auspices of a local organization. Such a program would provide opportunities for talented Bosnians in BH and abroad, and would focus on organizations that are in critical need of qualified labor force, particularly the government. Local young people supported both suggestions and asked COB to help them implement these ideas.

· Through its activities and interactions with local Bosnians, Re-Connect will contribute to the new generation of progressive and cosmopolitan Bosnian leaders.


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COMMUNITY OF BOSNIA
RE-CONNECT 2003.


The Community of Bosnia (COB) invites Bosnians and Herzegovinians outside of Bosnia-Herzegovina (BH), in the United States and elsewhere, to take part in Re-Connect 2003 – the summer internship program in BH. For the past three summers this program has provided an opportunity for young Bosnians to reconnect with their native country and contribute to its recovery.

Who is eligible to apply?

Bosnians and Herzegovinians who are current students at or graduates from universities outside of BH (in the United States and elsewhere) are eligible.

Candidates should be hard working, enthusiastic, flexible, and committed to full participation in both the work and volunteer service aspects of the internship program.

SUMMER INTERNSHIPS

· Interns are placed with local and foreign companies/organizations in BH for a full-time 2 month internship beginning on or about June 15. In past years, internship sites have been in Sarajevo, Mostar, Banja Luka, Tuzla and Bihac.

· Interns work in diverse settings including Bosnian businesses and NGOs, and Bosnian directed international firms.

· In selecting internship sites, COB attempts to identify successful organizations with progressive, dynamic and challenging work environments, and to match internship positions with interns’ skills and interests.

· In addition to their work responsibilities, all interns do volunteer service – teaching English and computer skills to the disadvantaged local population – mainly children and single mothers of all ethnic and religious backgrounds.

· Interns participate in other activities organized by COB, including workshops and opportunities for dialogue with local young people.

Will I be paid?

· Interns receive a monthly stipend of approximately $400.

· Interns may apply for an additional travel stipend to help defray the costs of airfare to and from Bosnia-Herzegovina.

How do I apply?

· Complete the application form and submit it electronically.

· Applications will be accepted January 1, 2003- March 1, 2003.

· Selection of interns will be completed by mid-March.

· Interns will be asked to make a commitment to participate within 2 weeks of receiving notice of acceptance.

For more information & to receive an application form:

E-mail: cobamerica@aol.com
Telephone: (202) 861-0561.

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