The Scarred City | Teen Ink

The Scarred City

January 15, 2009
By Carolina Clark, Chicago, IL

Walking to a family friend’s house, I stepped around a massive dent in the sidewalk. It was not the first I had seen. I asked my mom why there was a hole in ground. She answered, without much emotion, that it was where a bomb had once gone off. The buildings that border the sidewalk all bare one considerable similarity; the exterior of every building is scarred with hundreds bullet marks. This is the only memory I have from my first trip to Sarajevo, Bosnia, where I was supposed to grow up. I was six years old.
The rest of my trip I have put together from stories and faint images I have in my head. My parents and I landed in Butmir International Airport. It was a smaller airport without much to offer. As opposed to O’hare International Airport that has a Starbucks almost everywhere you look. We were picked up by my uncle, who proceeded to drive us toward our house.

After a monotonous ride consisting of poverty stricken areas, we finally arrived to a city-like atmosphere. At the first traffic light, a girl in her teens immediately appeared before our car and started to wash the windows. She then asked for money. My family from Sarajevo was immune to this process, but my mom immediately gave her a few dollars. The girl was on her own and only seventeen! I did not understand this at the time, the only homeless I ever see are old men leaning against a building shaking their McDonalds cup at pedestrians.

Sarajevo’s past beauties can be found if you look past the poverty and scars of war. The city is beautiful in and damaged antique kind of way. Sarajevo has the potential to rise and become a beautiful, known European city. However it lacks the funds for modernization and repair. It’s the sad and inevitable truth for the country I was supposed to grow up in. The trip has changed my life in the way I view America. I am much more grateful for the amenities we have. I hope to return there someday in the future with funds to help repair the city. It’s a trip I will never forget.

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