Middlebury

"Why Bosnia? Sustainable Peace in the Balkans" to be topic of symposium Oct. 27-28

October 14, 2004

I was always wrapped in cotton wool back home in Singapore.  During my two-year United World College stint in Italy, I came face to face with the harsh realities of war: close friends who lost their limbs to land mines, or their loved ones to conflicts.  My weekly social service in the Slovene refugee camp, and friendships with refugees from Bosnia, Kosovo and Croatia grabbed me onto the other side of the wall, the existence of which I had refused to acknowledge."

--Vani Sathisan, Middlebury College sophomore and symposium organizer

 

MIDDLEBURY, Vt.-"Why Bosnia? Sustainable Peace in the Balkans" will be the topic of a symposium at Middlebury College on Wednesday, Oct. 27-Thursday, Oct. 28.  Organized by the student group Dialogues for Peace (DFP), the event will address issues related to discord in the Balkans, assess the current peace process, and encourage actions toward a safe and secure future in regions affected by conflict.  The symposium events-three lectures and a film-are free and open to the public.  Each lecture will be followed by a brief question-and-answer session and further discussion.

Vani Sathisan, a Middlebury College sophomore and a member of DFP, was motivated to organize the symposium because of her own personal experiences with Balkan refugees.  "I was always wrapped in cotton wool back home in Singapore.  During my two-year United World College stint in Italy, I came face to face with the harsh realities of war: close friends who lost their limbs to land mines, or their loved ones to conflicts.  My weekly social service in the Slovene refugee camp, and friendships with refugees from Bosnia, Kosovo and Croatia grabbed me onto the other side of the wall, the existence of which I had refused to acknowledge," said Sathisan.

"DFP is not a bunch of hippies coming together marketing peace. It's about a genuine initiative to educate and raise awareness.  It could just take this pioneering effort of DFP to enlighten people living in such a privileged society.  The world is indeed fraught with numerous troubled spots-beyond the war in Iraq, beyond the upcoming presidential elections. Peace is indeed not a project, but a process," added Sathisan.

On Wednesday, Oct. 27, at 4:30 p.m., Peter Brorsen will kick off the symposium with a lecture titled "Ripe for Peace? Timing the Efforts of the International Community in the Balkans."  Brorsen is a trainer and program manager of conflict resolution and peace building projects in conflict zones throughout the world for Conflict Management Group of Cambridge, Mass.  He currently supervises projects in Iraq, Guyana, Liberia and Afghanistan, and provides training to humanitarian workers.  In his former work with the United Nations, Brorsen coordinated humanitarian aid in northern Iraq; managed education, health and sanitation projects in the Gaza Strip; mediated between Israeli and Palestinian security forces in the West Bank; and facilitated the return of refugees in Croatia.  His talk will take place in the Grand Salon of the Château on Château Road off College Street (Route 125).

Later the same day, at 8 p.m., Michael Shank will discuss "Opportunities for Peace, Dialogue and Reconciliation: Exploring Innovative Approaches in Bosnia and Herzegovina."  Director of public affairs for New York City-based nonprofit World Culture Open, Shank has worked for the past decade as a communications consultant for nongovernmental organizations in numerous countries, including the Philippines, Singapore, Pakistan, South Korea, Syria and India.  Trained in the theatre, Shank uses this medium as well as art to facilitate community-based dialogue on local, national and international conflicts.  His talk will take place in the Conference Room of the Robert A. Jones House '59 on Hillcrest Road off College Street.

On Thursday, Oct. 28, the symposium will continue at 4:30 p.m. when author and journalist Lawrence Lifschultz gives a talk titled "Genocide in Plain View:  Bosnia and the Deadly Calculus of Great Power Politics."  Lifschultz is a former South Asia correspondent for the Hong Kong-based Far Eastern Economic Review.  He has also written extensively on Asian and European affairs for The Nation, Le Monde Diplomatique, The Guardian and the BBC. Lifschultz is the author and editor of several books including "Why Bosnia? Writings on the Balkan War," with Rabia Ali, and "Bangladesh: The Unfinished Revolution."  He was a visiting fellow at Yale University's Center for International and Area Studies from 1998 to 2003.  The lecture will take place in Room 220 in Bicentennial Hall on Bicentennial Way off College Street (Route 125).

The second day of the symposium will also include an 8 p.m. screening of "No Man's Land," which won an Academy Award for Best Foreign Film in 2002.  The film is set in 1993 during the time of the heaviest fighting between Bosnia and Herzegovina.  The bulk of the film takes place in a trench between Bosnian and Serbian lines, hence the film's title.  Through a bizarre twist of fate, two soldiers, one Bosnian and one Serb, find themselves at a standoff with each other.  Writer and director Danis Tanovic often employs humor to illustrate war's absurdities.  The film will be shown in Room 216 of Bicentennial Hall.

On Friday, Oct. 29, the students of DFP will host a dinner for members of the Bosnian and Balkan community in Middlebury.

For more information about the symposium, contact student organizer Vani Sathisan at 802-443-7227 or ssathisa@middlebury.edu.

To follow are events calendar listings:

 

"Why Bosnia? Sustainable Peace in the Balkans"

Middlebury College Symposium

Wednesday, Oct. 27-Thursday, Oct. 28

 

Wednesday, Oct. 27

 

4:30 p.m.

Lecture:  "Ripe for Peace? Timing the Efforts of the International Community in the Balkans" by Peter Brorsen, a trainer and program manager of conflict resolution and peace building projects in conflict zones throughout the world for Conflict Management Group of Cambridge, Mass.  He currently supervises projects in Iraq, Guyana, Liberia and Afghanistan, and provides training to humanitarian workers. 

Grand Salon, Château on Château Road off College Street (Route 125)

 

8 p.m.

Lecture:  "Opportunities for Peace, Dialogue and Reconciliation: Exploring Innovative Approaches in Bosnia and Herzegovina" by Michael Shank, director of public affairs for New York City-based nonprofit World Culture Open.

Conference Room, Robert A. Jones House '59 on Hillcrest Road off College Street (Route 125)

 

Thursday, Oct. 28

 

4:30 p.m.

Lecture:  "Genocide in Plain View:  Bosnia and the Deadly Calculus of Great Power Politics" by journalist and author Lawrence Lifschultz, who has written for the Hong Kong-based Far Eastern Economic Review, The Nation, Le Monde Diplomatique, The Guardian and the BBC. Lifschultz is the author and editor of several books, including "Why Bosnia? Writings on the Balkan War," with Rabia Ali, and "Bangladesh: The Unfinished Revolution." 

Room 220, Bicentennial Hall on Bicentennial Way off College Street (Route 125)

 

8 p.m.

Film:  "No Man's Land," which won an Academy Award for Best Foreign Film in 2002, is set in 1993 during the time of the heaviest fighting between Bosnia and Herzegovina.  The bulk of the film takes place in a trench between Bosnian and Serbian lines, hence the film's title.  Through a bizarre twist of fate, two soldiers, one Bosnian and one Serb, find themselves at a standoff with each other.  Writer and director Danis Tanovic often employs humor to illustrate war's absurdities.

Room 216, Bicentennial Hall on Bicentennial Way off College Street (Route 125)

 

All events are free and open to the public.  All lectures will be followed by a brief question-and-answer period.  For more information, contact student organizer Vani Sathisan at 802-443-7227 or ssathisa@middlebury.edu.

 

 

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