A bus with 52 passengers stopped by Bosnian restaurant “Grbic” in the city of St. Louis for a tour of the Bosnian community. Stepping first out of the vehicle was group leader Joseph DeGregorio, a man representing “Guided Tours of the Hill”–a company that offers sightseeing of the St. Louis through cultural and historical prism. During this trip they had a goal to showcase the Bosnian community in St. Louis with all of its values. During the first few hours of the tour, Americans had a chance to visit the Bosnian grocery stores and buy Bosnian products, try Bosnian sweets in cake shops, visit a local Bosnian mosque, and in the final stage, while having lunch at “Grbic” restaurant, find out more about the Bosnian community through a half an hour lecture by SabaH’s editor Sukrija Dzidzovic.
After DeGregorio introduced Dzidzovic as the editor of the only Bosnian weekly newspapers in United States, guests had a chance to get familiar with the content and a mission of SabaH. At the beginning of its lecture Dzidzovic highlighted, “We are not refugees- we were DRIVEN OUT”. With this sentence Dzidzovic explained to the visitors that Bosnians did not come to this city as a result of economic misery but rather that they are here because they were driven out of their homes by force.
In contrast to the other immigrant communities, Bosnians came to this country and this city by large as educated individuals with diplomas that were unfortunately void after they got here. They had to adapt to the conditions of the time and find a way to manage their daily lives as best as possible. That is why today in St. Louis you have former aircraft pilots who are truckers, and former highly educated doctors–specialists that are working in positions way lower than what their medical knowledge allows them to work in, highlighted Dzidzovic.
One of the guests brought up a story that is circling among the Americans in St. Louis, namely that Bosnian refugees in the city received substantial financial help, which allowed them to buy pricey cars, and even more expensive houses. Negating this rumor, Dzidzovic said:
“You have to understand that one part of Bosnian population in St. Louis came from Germany in the nineties, due to their homes in Bosnia and Herzegovina being destroyed and burned during the aggression in Bosnia. You have to understand that those Bosnians painstakingly saved money in Germany and brought it in U.S. with them; they started new businesses and bought houses”.
Time showed that Bosnians in this city are hard working and frugal hosts. This was one of the reasons why they achieved economic stability and became equals with their American counterparts as neighbors, pointed out Dzidzovic.
Next question from one of the “visitors” was, “Why Bosnians rarely smile?”. Dzidzovic answered this question by saying that St. Louis is a host to more than 10,000 refugees who lost a number of their loved ones during genocidal actions by Serbs.
Along with that, our city hosts a few thousand of Bosnians who survived the trauma of Serb concentration camps. Do not expect from those people to have a shiny smile on their faces, as one may expect from other immigrants. The sorrow is on their faces and it represents their sufferings, explained Dzidzovic to the present group.
At the end of his lecture Sukrija Dzidzovic pointed out that better times are coming for Bosnian community in St. Louis through youth who are obtaining degrees from the local universities, and are integrating much better with their neighbors. Dzidzovic spoke about the cultural heritage that is contributing and in the future will contribute even more to the development of this city, pointing out the fact that Bosnians rejuvenated the “Bevo” area that was in a state of collapse prior to their arrival. This area is home to the largest population of Bosnians.
Satisfied by the lecture and offered specialties of Bosnian cuisine at Grbic restaurant, the guests left our community in a positive way. After a few days, Sukrija Dzidzovic received an email with many thanks and praises from the organizers of this tour, sating among the other things:” In my personal name, as well as in the name of the group that I led on Wednesday, I would like to thank you for the excellent presentation of the Bosnian community and your newspaper. That was the best part of our tour, and I hope that we will repeat this in the near future.”