Bosnian student filmmakers call UMSL home
University of Missouri–St. Louis freshmen Nesmira Muratovic, Vildana Omeragic and Kenan Sahbaz don’t remember much about their lives in Bosnia or the war that devastated the country. But they remember enough to know how important it is to preserve their families’ experiences and to educate the world about their home country.
They attended Bayless High School in south St. Louis County, which is home to many of the region’s 70,000 Bosnian residents. In fact, 40 percent of the students at Bayless High School are Bosnian.
Last December, Muratovic, Omeragic and Sahbaz, along with three other students, produced the 20-minute documentary “Six Words From Bosnia” for their video production class. They conducted interviews with their families, produced voice-over translations of the storytellers and tirelessly edited the project.
They were not prepared for the response and the attention the film received. Omeragic, a chemistry major, says the video production class was supposed to be an easy class for their last semester as seniors. But it turned into so much more.
The video was featured by several media outlets last spring and continues to garner attention. The group spoke at Webster University in Webster Groves, Mo., and will speak and show their film in Dubuque, Iowa, in late October.
The group used six words: pain, helplessness, joy, hardship, regret and hope to structure the six stories presented in the film, and in the end, they not only managed to preserve some of their families’ most important wartime experiences but also to educate the community about Bosnian refugees who fled to America after the war
“People didn’t know who we were and where we came from. Now they know,” said Sahbaz, a nursing major.
Even though the three friends now go to school thousands of miles from the country where they were born, they feel at home.
Muratovic, a business administration major, was not initially sure where she wanted to go to school, but after getting to be a student for a day at UMSL last spring, she was convinced that the university could be home. She is already involved in Greek life, the Pierre Laclede Honors College and plans on to take advantage of one of UMSL’s many study abroad programs.
“UMSL was the only school that clicked with who I am. The people here clicked with me,” Omeragic said. “I’m loving every minute of college. I wouldn’t change a thing,”
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