Bosnian immigrant Ibrahim Vajzovic says many Bosnian’s have bought properties in South St. Louis that were abandoned and cleaned them up. With more than 1,000 Bosnian owned businesses in South County St. Louis, Sadik Kukic says the community is good at adjusting.
St. Louis has become the 2nd largest Bosnian community in the world, after Bosnia. Sadik Kukic found safety in St. Louis when he was 28, after fleeing a Bosnian concentration camp. When he arrived in the US, he had close to nothing.
While non Bosnian Muslims in St. Louis have talked about facing discrimmination in their daily lives, many Bosnians say they have not experienced it as strongly. Vajzovic says this is because the Bosnian culture is more like American culture than Middle Eastern muslims.
It’s no accident that St. Louis has become home to many Bosnians. The U.S. Resettlement Program was established by the U.S. Department of State and annually agrees on refugees to be resettled from war torn countries around the world. After war broke out in the former Yugoslavia in the early 90’s, the program decided St. Louis would be a good place for Bosnians to resettle.
The International Institute of St. Louis sponsored the refugees. The organization’s president, Anna Crosslin, says the city was selected for many reasons. Crosslin says the Bosnian population is resiliant and have done well over the years. She says she believes Bosnian’s education levels played a roll in the communities’ ability to adapt.
Crosslin says Bosnians and other refugee groups are the single largest flow of new population into the city of St. Louis and have helped the city in many ways. Kukic says Bosnian’s quick adaption to life in the U.S. is even more apparent in younger generations. He says his son never learned to speak his native language, but doesn’t see the change as a bad thing.