EU in Idaho take note of Boise Bosnians' success

Posted at 6:33 PM, Mar 06, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-06 20:38:40-05

In the 1990's, about 4,000 Bosnian refugees arrived in the City of Trees. Many of them stayed, choosing to call Idaho's state capitol their home.

The success story caught the attention of the European Union, which is seeing its own influx of migrants.

So now, delegates from Europe are in Boise taking notes.

The EU delegates are currently scattered throughout the U.S.

In Idaho, seven delegates arrived last Thursday. On Sunday, they were invited to the Bosnian's cooking and educational course to get a taste of what their American experience has been like.

The Bosnian and Herzegovinian Culture Center of Idaho was established in Boise 16 years ago.

After fleeing from their home countries and resettling in Boise, they consider themselves American.

"I've made Boise my home," said Maya Duratovic, public relations representative for the Bosnian and Herzegovinian Culture Center.

However, that doesn't mean they want to forget about their culture and traditions.

One way they keep it alive, while at the same time sharing their diversity with others, is to host a monthly cooking and educational course. They are offering 11 total, and there are five more opportunities left. Thanks to a grant, they can offer the course at a low, $10 fee.

The American-Bosnians are helping the EU delegates from several different countries come up with new solutions, while letting them in on what worked for them.

"In the end, we're all human beings and we value the same things... family, life," Duratovic said. "We have lots of things in common."

Duratovic said the biggest challenge any refugee faces is learning the new language and culture.

The Idaho Council for International Visitors helped facilitate the delegates' visit. The group's executive director was flattered to be a part of the union's quest to better accommodate incoming refugees.

"It's such an American story that we're proud of and proud to share with Europe," said Carole Schroeder, executive director for the Idaho Council for International Visitors. "And, we know they'll do well but they have, just by numbers, a very daunting task ahead of them."

After the delegates see what all Boise has to offer refugees, they get on a plane Tuesday and will then meet back up with their counterparts to compare notes.

The next Bosnian cooking class is scheduled for March 20. For more information, reach out to them on Facebook by searching for Bosnian cooking and educational series.