Thursday, June 14, 2007

Oh, Zagreb

So, I feel that I must finish the saga that was my short trip to Croatia. After four wonderful days on the coast, I rode with the rest of the UGA study abroad trip in a big bus for six hours to the capital city of Croatia - Zagreb. It is a charming European city, complete with lots of churches, narrow roads, squares, cafes, and statues. Zagreb does not have a metro system, it is chock full of these bright blue trolley cars that share the roads with the other cars. Since I could never figure out how to get a ticket to ride said trolleys, I opted for the ancient transportation mode of walking. I definitely got my money's worth out of the clearance Kinnucan's Merrells (sp?) that I bought for the trip.

This is where the meat of my trip was to happen. Please ask me in person sometime about my living situation in Zagreb. It's a long story (as my living situations tend to be) and I fear that I would get a little too worked up writing about it here. Nevertheless, my goal in Zagreb was to meet with NGOs that work with victims of human trafficking in Croatia. Not knowing where to start, a wonderful professor from UGA who was there with the study abroad group allowed me to go with him on the first day that we were there to meet a colleague of his at the Philosophy Faculty of the University of Zagreb. She teaches liguistics like Dr. Langston, but he thought that she had some contacts in the women's studies department there. Providentially, her contact was available when I was there and she immeadiately sat down to talk to me about my interests (which, by the way, are the health issues faced by women who are victims of trafficking, as well as the programs that are already in place to serve them). She also introduced me to a secretary on the hall who volunteers at several agencies in Zagreb. Her name is Jasmina (pronounced: Yasmina). Jasmina was wonderful. She dropped what she was doing, called, and set up meetings for me and my friend Jessi on the next day.

So, last Wednesday Jessi and I met with two different ladies who work with trafficking victims in Croatia. They explained to us the cycle of trafficking and what these women face when the cycle is broken. I'll write more about this in another post. They also told us individual stories of women they have worked with and each story is heartbreaking. This is s rhetorical question, but How can we live in what we call a modern society when people are still bought and sold like toothbrushes?

Needless to say, when I finally ran up the escalator at the Atlanta airport and saw Brian's face, I broke down in tears. It was a wonderful trip, but it was a hard trip. All the while I clung to the chorus of an old Rich Mullins song that goes, "If I stand let me stand on the promise that you'll pull me through, and if I can't let me fall on the grace that first brought me to you. If I sing let me sing for the joy that had borne in me these songs, and if I weep let me weep as a man who is longing for his home."

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