Monday, July 1, 2013

Day Nine: Dubrovnik, Croatia

I have tried three times now to get this posted. Hopefully this time is the charm.

We spent Friday, our ninth day, in Dubrovnik, the jewel of the Croatian Riviera -- and ECC was well-represented! 

We made our final school visit to the University of Dubrovnik. The community college administrator and instructors were fascinated to learn that there are no community colleges in Croatia. Students either follow a college path or a career path at high school. A full college degree takes only three years.

Pictured below with me are Dr. Delores Parker, retired senior vice president and chief academic officer at the NC Community College System; John Preusser, history instructor at James Sprunt CC; Limdley Swift, English instructor at Guilford Technical CC; Abbe Stone, history and political science instructor, Sandhills Community College; Dr. Neil Bolick, World View; and Dr. Jacqueline Olich, associate director of the Center for Slavic, Eurasian, and Eastern European Studies at UNC-Chapel Hill. (Those are my ECC sunglasses in the picture.)

After our visit to the college, we went headed toward the Old City, enclosed in ancient Roman walls. The towers were featured in Game of Thrones.

Once inside the walls in Old Town, we saw three churches and many shops we visited after lunch! 
We even saw the city that rose up across the isthmus from the old city. 

After an afternoon of shopping, some of us went down to Lapad Beach, dipped our feet in the Adriatic Sea, and watched a glorious sunset. 

It was a great day in Dubrovnik!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Day Ten: Split, Croatia

Hello from Split, Croatia! This is our last night abroad. We spent the day on the way to our final destination, Split, Croatia.

When we arrived, we had lunch and toured Diocletian's Castle. The castle was a retirement home for the Roman emperor and has been standing since the fifth century. Though no longer used, the castle now houses shops and homes within its walls.

We also saw one interesting sight: a worker was adding European Union flags to the Croatian national flags. 

Croatia has been preparing to celebrate its entry into the EU on Monday; there are huge parties on "EU Eve," as one of our members put it. Another members said we can say we were among the last visitors to Croatia before it joined the EU. We are sad that our amazing trip is coming to an end, and we are all so happy to have had this amazing experience and to be heading home. 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Day Eight: Mostar, Herzgovina

Hello from Dubrovnik, Croatia. As soon as we arrived, I saw a BBC news report about migrants to North Carolina. After dinner, some of our group went down to the beach -- yes, the beach! We are on the Croatian Riviera, after all. Some of us headed to the Old City for a sneak peek.

Today was another busy day as we left Sarajevo and traveled to Mostar for a meeting with OSCE officials and then to the United World College. From there, we went on a walking tour of Mostar. When that was done, we headed through border crossings into Croatia, then into Bosnia, then back into Croatia to stay.

Here are some photos from today. The first two are from the walking tour, showing the Roman baths and a bullet-ridden shell of a building on Mostar's main thoroughfare.

The next photo is for the foodies. It is my lunch of japrak, grape leaves stuffed with meat and rice. 

I have had a fantastic time and have so many possible connections for the college, and I am so excited about visiting the University of Dubrovnik tomorrow. Until then, good night!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Day Seven: Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina

Today, we were busy! We started our day by visiting the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe. We also visited two schools and took a walking tour of Sarajevo.

The OSCE visit was extremely informative. For each group of children, there may have to be three different sets of textbooks depending on their ethnicity. 

Our guide from the OSCE accompanied is first to a lower school, then a high school. Teachers earn about 6,000 Euros a year. The lower school children are taught English in the lower grades, then must learn another foreign language. There are also no community colleges! Students may have a vocational path.

I will close with a few photos from the walking tour. The first one is the oldest Muslim mosque in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

The second and third photos show the remainders and reminders of the Civil War. The second building is a functioning Roman Catholic church.

The final photo of the day is our wacky walking tour guide who concluded the tour by explaining how Bill Clinton continues to be very popular in Sarajevo, thanks to his role in bringing peace to the city. Our  guide thanked us for caring about his city. The tour group assured him we would never forget his lovely city.

Back to Croatia to visit Mostar and Dubroovnik! Until next time.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Day Six: Bosnia-Herzegovina

Today, we traveled from Banja Luka to Sarajevo. We wound our way through some of the most gorgeous mountain scenery in this world. Along the way, we stopped in Jajce, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and we had a traditional lunch of cevapi at a later stop.

When we arrived in Sarajevo, we went directly to visit Obrazovanje Gradi BiH, Education Builds Bosnia-Herzegovina, a non-governmental organization headed up by Retired General Jovan Divjak. OGBH's mission is to help care for children of Bosnian war victims, though they have expanded to care for underprivileged children in Bosnia-Herzegovina. 

We look forward to seeing more of this wonderful city. 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Day Five: Banja Luka, Bosnia-Herzegovina

Hello from rainy Banja Luka, Bosnia-Herzegovina. We started our day with a tour of a kindergarten, which would be equivalent to our child care centers. After that, we had a long bus ride and got another stamp on our passports as we crossed into Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Many seem to be scared of Bosnia-Herzegovina. From what I have seen so far, those fears are unfounded. Banja Luka reminds me of a town in our mountains. There are next to no visible reminders of the unrest in 1991. 

Even though it has been raining since we arrived, we did a walking tour of the city. We saw the kastel, which is not a castle, but a military fortress. We also saw the Temple of Christ the Savior, the Orthodox worship center rebuilt with parts from around the world. The Temple had no seats in it; people stand for services at the absolutely gorgeous church. The exterior of the building was of orange and red brick from Macedonia (Iraq-Iran). Also inside, the floor was covered with grass to commemorate the celebration of the Feast of the Holy Spirit. For a small donation, one could pull a piece of grass and have it fashioned into a bracelet to preserve their family's health. 

We also had the pleasure of running into Dr. Robert Jenkins, director of the Center for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies and professor of political science at UNC-Chapel Hill. Dr. Jenkins has a study group in the area for six weeks.

We are all excited about Sarajevo tomorrow! Until then...

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Day Four: Ljubljana, Slovenia

Today we took a ride on a funicular, which is a railroad that runs up the side of the mountain. The view of Ljubljana below is from the funicular. We also visited Ljubljana Castle, pictured in the bottom shot. The castle looms high over the city, much like Edinburgh Castle does. The middle shot is the patron saint of the city, St. George. George is also the patron saint of England. We spent the afternoon siteseeing in the incredible city of Ljubljana, which celebrates its 2,200th birthday tomorrow.

We have had many wonderful times already and there are more ahead. We have returned to Zagreb, Croatia for one more night, then we visit a school tomorrow and journey to Bosnia-Herzegovina tomorrow. Until then, enjoy the pictures.