THE BOSNIAN FRIEND

The Bosnian Flag was given as a special gift for the evenings I spent teaching English as a second language in Bosnia in 1994 and 1995. Twice a week, over a seven-month period, I helped teach Bosnian and Croatian citizens that worked at Canadian Camp part of UNPROFOR, in the former Yugoslavia. I was a Canadian Soldier, part of the Canadian Battle Group in Bosnia. The English class in the Canadian Camp consisted of 33 students; male and female, from 18 to 74 years of age. Every Tuesday and Thursday evening, from 7 - 9 PM, English was taught. Most of the students attending the courses already spoke multiple languages, including Serbian-Croatian, Spanish, French Germany, and some students spoke basic English. All the students were employees of the United Nations and were employed as cooks, cleaners, translators or other jobs at the Canadian Camp. Over the months of instruction both instructors and students became close, with some becoming friends. Despite having few personal possessions, each student found a unique gift to thank each of the instructors returning home to Canada (after the completion of the United Nations tour). The gift that stuck out for me was this former Bosnian Flag, with a personalized message in English. The student who gave me this gift spoke only a few words of English at the start, but could fluently speak and write English at the end. This was the fifth language he was able to master by his 19th birthday. My proudest period during my United Nations Tour in Bosnia was teaching English as a Second Language to the 30 plus students, and receiving this flag is a wonderful reminder and connection to that amazing experience.

Michael Detheridge MCpl (Ret’d)