A few words by Saša Kulenović, Project Manager at the CDRSEE
When I obtained my master degree in 2013, like any other young graduate who's suddenly catapulted from university to the job market, I began my personal quest for opportunities that could suit my skills and interests. Nonetheless, my interests were rather peculiar and deeply ingrained in my personal history. I was born in Sarajevo in 1987, to a Bosnian Muslim father and a Serb Orthodox mother. After the war broke out, my family fled the besieged city and took refuge in Italy, a place I soon learned to call home. Despite this, I found it impossible to ignore and forget my roots. While growing up, as a conditioned response to an incipient identity crisis, I started following the political developments in Southeast Europe and ultimately started investigating the underlying causes that led to inter-ethnic hatred and strife. Later on, as a university student, I focused my research on this suffering, yet beautiful region, and decided to pursue a career that might allow me to make my own contribution, no matter how limited or modest in scale, to regional prosperity and peace.
By dint of searching for opportunities that might fulfill such aspirations, I discovered the Center for Democracy and Reconciliation in Southeast Europe and learned about its pivotal role in promoting stability and reconciliation across Southeast Europe's societies. Given that I immediately felt strongly about its mission, I was delighted when the CDRSEE selected me for its internship programme. When I moved to Thessaloniki in the autumn of 2013, once I got better acquainted with the CDRSEE's projects, it didn't take me long to realise that I had come to the right place. During the subsequent three months, I integrated seamlessly into the multicultural team at the Center’s offices and collaborated with associates throughout Southeast Europe. The support of my colleagues, coupled with a productive and positive office environment, made it easier to adjust to demanding circumstances. Although being an intern, I felt greatly valued and the resulting boost in self-belief prompted me to be a more self-sufficient.
When I left Thessaloniki on February 2014, I had the feeling that my ‘romance’ with the CDRSEE and this beautiful port city, was a chapter of my life not meant to be closed yet. Much to my delight, two years later, I am back to where it all started, filled with renewed motivation and joy. I am confident that, by working for the CDRSEE, I will manage to make my contribution to the organisation's mission. I believe, more than ever, that fostering democratic and inclusive societies in Southeast Europe is paramount for a region characterised by several frozen and unresolved conflicts. Fully aware of the challenges awaiting me and my coworkers, it will be a privilege and an honour to work for a cause I so strongly support.