52) Bringing emotions to the surface

Tomorrow is the day of the commemoration of the Srebrenica genocide. Sich several days I am there, due to my internship, together with several other young people, mainly from the Western Balkans. Since days we learn about genocide and crimes, about transitional justice and peace. These are emotional topics, especially for those who lost family members and whose life it affects directly. I feel thoughtful, touched, but emotional? I was not that, so far.

Today Aida, the artist who created the installation “Što te nema”, did an exercise with us. We were writing names of victims of the genocide according to the family names down. Aferwards, we were standing in a circle, about 50 young people, and old what we had felt during the exercise. Tears appeared in several eyes. Because they had wrote down the own family name, because they did not even have time to write down the names of just one family… As soon as someone started talking, the emotions came. And there I felt it as well. Without any warning. Suddenly the emotions were there, I could tap directly into them. They showed themselves in tears. Before I was feeling with others, now I could feel it myself. And with every person that shared their thoughts, it became more. It felt good to be able to show the own feelings, without judgement, just understanding. Everyone’s emotions are different. I told them, that I did not know before why I could not feel anything, that I feared I would be too distanced— until now. A colleague came to me and told me, she felt the same. There were many hugs. Taking hands. Thanks to everyone who had come. We were not told that we had to do something with out life— we were given time to raise our voices. For the first time I had seen some of my colleagues emotional. For the first time I saw from some of the participants, what it means to them to be here. For the first time I felt connected to them, do I share something with them. And this is the most important thing I take away from these days. I can look at the notes from the lectures again. But this experience I will remember directly.

For me, this is a story of humanity because it showed me, what connected all of us. No matter what distances there were between us— because we did not know us well, were of different age and background, different opinions and personalities— for this moment the distance disappeared, because the emotions were so close to the surface. Very simple, through talking and listening. It is not the most important thing to me, that ambassadors show tomorrow their faces at the ceremony. But moments like this.