Benjamin Trnka is a recipient of the Summer 2019 Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowship. The award provides undergraduate, graduate, and professional school students with financial support to develop fluency in less commonly taught languages (LCTLs) and expertise in the regions in which these languages are spoken. Every year the Center for Global Studies awards between 12-15 fellowships to UW students. Click here to learn more.
As a member of the Bosnian diaspora displaced by conflict in former Yugoslavia, I relish opportunities to return to my hometown, Sarajevo. Meanwhile, my academic work in cross-cultural psychiatry and current medical training has deepened my study of post-conflict health and the medical humanities. Returning to Sarajevo this summer with the Global Studies FLAS fellowship, I was able to reinforce my mother tongue and contribute research relevant to post-conflict mental health.
Through my studies at the Lingvisti Association in Sarajevo, and their summer seminars on Rat & Mir (War & Peace), I deepened my language breadth and fluency. All the while, from my interview-based research with young people in Sarajevo emerged a culturally resonant model of ‘post-conflict resilience’. This work has been presented at the UW Center for Global Mental Health, and is pending further publication.
This opportunity has allowed me to reconnect meaningfully with my homeland and its people with a new depth of language, and will inform my future practice and research within psychiatry.