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Project 1948: Bosnia

The Chicago School alumna Jenifer White, Ph.D., founded Project 1948 to help Bosnian youth confront and cope with the aftermath of the Bosnian Civil War and genocide.

For those who didn’t know about the approximately 800,000 civilians, primarily Tutsi, who were brutally killed during a genocide in Rwanda, the 2004 Oscar-nominated film “Hotel Rwanda” brought it to the forefront. As many as 2 million Rwandans fled the country after the 100 days of genocide that took place from April to July 1994.

In 2009, international psychology students from The Chicago School, including Jenifer White, Ph.D., traveled to Rwanda for a 12-day initiative helping to train counselors that were working with survivors dealing with trauma and PTSD, specifically children. This program was co-developed by Online Campus Dean Tiffany Masson, Psy.D. But while the class was doing their research on Rwanda, Dr. White took a special interest in the civil war and genocide that took place in another country in the ‘90s: Bosnia.

“During the trip, Dr. Masson asked if I’d decided what I wanted to do my dissertation on,” Dr. White says.

When the group visited the Kigali Genocide Memorial Museum, Dr. White learned of the tragedies in Bosnia and made her decision.

In April 1992, Bosnia-Herzegovina declared its independence from Yugoslavia. Over the next three years, Bosnian Serbs took extreme action in an effort to secure land for the exclusive use of their ethnic group. They raped, maimed, and slaughtered approximately 200,000 people. Another 2 million were displaced—the majority of which were Bosniak (Bosnian Muslims) and Croatian civilians. This “ethnic cleansing” was classified by the United Nations as a genocide in 2007.

“I thought it was interesting that the Bosnian and Rwandan genocides happened during the same time, and I wanted to compare them,” Dr. White says. “I didn’t know anyone from Bosnia and had no connection to it, but I decided to go anyway.”

After completing her dissertation on the genocide in Bosnia and graduating in 2014 with a Ph.D. in International Psychology, Dr. White wanted to use an artistic way to explore what the Balkan countries Bosnia and Herzegovina are like today. So she founded Project 1948, an organization that helps young adults express themselves through PhotoVoice, an internationally recognized therapeutic tool that allows participants to document their everyday lives through photo assignments.

“My dissertation wasn’t going to solve the major issues in Bosnia, and I was sad about that,” Dr. White says. “But I wanted to do some kind of work that would help bring awareness and understanding to the people, using a culturally sensitive medium. Photography through PhotoVoice does that.”

Project 1948 was named after the year the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was published “to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms.”

In partnership with Photographers Without Borders, Dr. White hopes that Project 1948 will continue to grow and give the Bosnian community the opportunity to share their concerns, ideas, and hope for a better future.

For more information on Project 1948, visit Project1948.ngo.


Read articles from the Fall 2018 issue of Insight:

1. President’s Letter: “Four decades and counting”

2. “Predicting the unpredictable”

3. “Principled profits”

4. “Rhymes + Rhythms = Revolution”

5. “Aging alone”

6. “Global education in action”

Shamontiel L. Vaughn

Shamontiel L. Vaughn joined TCS Education System’s Marketing Department as the Editorial Writer in February 2017. She has previously worked in digital media with the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Defender, CBS Chicago, and Sun Times Network.

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