PLANE

This summer I had the amazing opportunity to study abroad with LMU. I was able to have experiences that reshaped my worldview and exposed me to different ways of thinking. After this experience, I am more appreciative of the United States.

The structure of the government here is unique and stable no matter who is currently in power. I cannot say the same about the government structure of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Its inherent instability has led me to cherish my country’s government. 

The LMU Summer in Croatia program was five weeks, and we took two classes for eight credits. To be completely honest, I wasn’t that excited or even nervous to fly alone to a foreign country and live there for over a month.

I thought of the program as a way to earn more credits and maybe get some cool life experiences. But after living through the program in its entirety, I realized I was misguided in my thoughts.

On May 31, I hopped on a nine hour flight to Istanbul and then I made a connection to reach my final destination of Zagreb, Croatia. We lived in Zagreb for about two weeks and took a philosophy class called Narrative and Identity, while also learning about the history of Croatia and former Yugoslavia. The next destination was a weekend trip exploring Bosnia.

We stayed in Sarajevo, Bosnia for about three days. I learned about the Yugoslav Wars in the 1990s that shaped the Balkan region into what it is today. Bosnia’s current governmental structure is a product of the end of the war.

After the violence ended, the United States stepped in to try and create peace and democracy for Bosnia and Serbia through the Dayton Agreement, also known as the Dayton Accords. The Accords created the governmental structure for Bosnia and made what I consider one of the most complex democracies ever.

Bosnia has two entities within its government: the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Republika Srpska. Each region has its own local government systems with a united federal government. There are three presidents—one for each major ethnic/religious group (Serbian, Croatian and Bosniaks)—along with a House of Representatives and a House of the Peoples.

To put it bluntly, the Bosnian government is a mess. The Dayton Accords were a short-term solution according to Oliver P. Richmond and Jason Franks in their book "Liberal Peace Transitions." 

If the country wants to continue without war, changes need to be made to sustain long-term peace. Although I am not in a position to instigate change in Bosnia, what I can do is appreciate the government of my country.

As of right now, I am not a fan of who is in the White House and the choices he is making for our country. Even with my disdain for the man of the hour, I have been able to recognize the power of the structure of our government.

The Constitution is solid. When Trump says he wants to end birthright citizenship, he can’t do it because the 14th Amendment protects that right. The president is unable to amend the Constitution alone, showing that there are checks on his power.

The Founding Fathers created a constitution that protects the rights of American citizens and made a strong foundation for government. Even though there are times I disagree with the Constitution, I am more cognizant of the privilege I have to speak out about injustice. 

The First Amendment gives me the right to speak my mind and the rest of the Bill of Rights defines my civic and political rights. As an American, I can vote for whomever I choose and am not forced to vote for the candidate who represents my ethnicity even if they don’t represent my interests.

I have my grievances with the U.S. federal government and the people in power, but they won’t be in office forever. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, politicians exploit the problems within the system to remain in office and deny citizens adequate representation in government. 

Studying abroad has altered my worldview. I saw things that changed my view of the United States for better. I learned about the wounds of war that happened two decades ago and how people still cope with the trauma and maintain the fight for peace.

This is the opinion of Sally Dean, a sophomore political science major from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Tweet comments to @LAloyolan or email comments to the editor@theloyolan.com.

Sally Dean is a sophomore political science major and a Pittsburgh native. She loves to bake cookies (and eat them), and attempt DIY crafts.

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