Dijana Muminovic, a professional photojournalist, was 12 years old when her family moved to the United States after the Bosnian War. She grew up in the United States not wanting to remember being hungry and living in a basement. She became a photojournalist to share the aftermath of the war.
Muminovic was asked by Allegheny College Professor Shanna Kirschner to speak to her human rights class about her experiences on March. 2. Muminovic is in at Allegheny College for the college's two-day annual journalism conference, which concludes today.
“I guess my goal is to get students thinking ... more personally about what it means for non combatants caught in a war zone,” Kirschner said.
Muminovic’s experiences are what drive her to share what Bosnia is like 20 years after the war.
“Its really important for me to share this story because it’s something I have kept for myself for a really long time,” Muminovic said.
After meeting other Bosnian women in the U.S. who were waiting to hear if their loved ones are alive or identified, Muminovic took specific interest in going back to Bosnia and learning about this process. She began her journey in 2010 and has flown back and forth since. She believes her work is important for those who she documents in Bosnia.
“It’s always something I feel like I need to do because of the experiences I have had and the people I meet,” Muminovic said. “I feel like my photographs and stories are voices for them.”
Kirschner finds it important that people are aware of what war does to civilians. She hopes that Muminovic's presentation and the journalism conference will make people think differently about refugees.
“I want to get people thinking about the human consequences of war,” Kirschner said.
Muminovic believes her work impacts one group of people. She affects those who are suffering, rather than the people not exposed to the war or have experienced war.
“I can’t say that perhaps people think differently because most people I document are refugees and immigrants,” Muminovic said. “So I feel like I spend very little time with the other group of people. It’s usually the people I document that I leave the impression on the most.”
Students responded to Muminovic’s presentation by asking questions and commenting on her experiences. Because of the experiences Muminovic shared, Jake Wilson, Allegheny College Class of 2016, became more mindful of refugees' lives.
“I really enjoyed listening to Dijana mostly because I have never met someone that lived their whole childhood so different from my own,” Wilson said. “It’s enlightening that people live through this to tell a story.”
Muminovic continues her journey in Meadville through the weekend. Muminovic speaks at 10:30 a.m. in the Vukovich Center for Communication Arts at Allegheny College.
Jaclyn Millin, Allegheny College Class of 2016, is majoring in political science and minoring in journalism in the public interest.
You can go
“Welcome the Stranger: Stories of Immigrants and Refugees in the 21st Century,” the fourth annual journalism multimedia conference at Allegheny College, concludes today in the Vukovich Center for Communication Arts. All conference presentations are free and open to the public, and no preregistration is required.
Schedule of events
• “I’m a Refugee,” with Dijana Muminovic, 10:30 a.m. Muminovic is an award-winning Bosnian-American photojournalist who most recently documented the plight of Middle-Eastern refugees and migrants passing through Croatia in a personal project titled “I’m a Refugee.” Born in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Muminovic survived the Bosnian war as a 12-year-old girl. In 1997 she moved to the U.S. with her family and grew up in Bowling Green, Kent.
• “La Migración: Latin America’s Migration Crisis,” with Carrie Kahn, 2 p.m. Kahn is National Public Radio’s international correspondent based in Mexico City. Her reports can be heard on NPR’s signature news programs including "All Things Considered," "Morning Edition" and "Weekend Edition." From 1994 to 2001, Kahn was the border and community affairs reporter at NPR station KPBS in San Diego, where she covered Northern Mexico, immigration, cross-border issues and the city’s ethnic communities.
• “Welcome the Stranger,” a presentation at 7:30 p.m., with students from Allegheny College, Ohio University and the University of Mississippi presenting the results of their previous day’s work. The presentation is preceded by a reception at 6:30.