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How to avoid second-generation trauma

My family has been affected by war in many complex ways. As a result, the talks about the war are challenging and they usually avoid talking about their personal experiences. Taking part in the programme I had a chance to learn more about it, put some things in perspective that would help me find a way to ask the right questions.

A wide range of workshops, films, site visits and personal stories is rounded into one whole.

Somehow, when I listen about this tragic period, the conversation is mostly about the siege of Sarajevo or Srebrenica. It's a societal mistake, as well as a mistake of our education system. Our future leaders have no space to get to know many vital situations and stories through a key period of our history.

There are still divisions of children on the basis of religion and ethnicity. This is how they are empowered by hatred or fear towards the innocent, making the situation more tense. If we heard and read more, we could understand, learn and prevent future repetition of such distressing moments. Trauma makes people run, close themselves in and transmit it to the second generation. My parents were very young at the start of the war. My mother was still in elementary school, and my father was a third-year high school student. Even though he was still a minor, he was given a rifle and sent to the frontline. What was supposed to be fun, the youthful years turned into terrible life experience that left an indelible mark on him. Instead, he was forced to defend himself, his family and his home from former classmates. That experience is hard on its own. My mother had to escape the house with her mother and one older brother. The eldest brother worked far away from them at the time, specifically in this region, and ended up in a concentration camp. That period was indescribably difficult for them. I never had a chance to ask about his story.

The unwritten rule was not to ask, not to "stick my nose where it doesn't belong." I didn't know how to approach it. This project has helped me understand a lot more and I hope to find the right questions for them. I want to learn, help them get through at least a small part of their traumas and so prevent the transmission of the aforementioned traumas to my sister and me. I believe that if I hear stories they find difficult to talk about from another source, they may find it easier to tell their stories in a way that makes them feel comfortable. Honestly, I'm not the one who needs to force them to confront their traumas within a particular timeframe; it has to happen at their own pace, but I could be helpful on their path towards it.

~ LL

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