Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Eastern Croatia

UGA Study Abroad in Croatia
Park in Zagreb

May 19
We visited the city of Jasenovac where we toured a WWII concentration camp museum. This was quite a disturbing and somber experience. The museum has recently been renovated and does a phenomenal job of honoring the lives that were taken in the concentration camp. Every aspect of the museum was very well thought out and includes much attention to detail, such as the smell resembling that of the camp; the displays located near the floor so visitors must bend down to see them which shows respect for the deceased; and there were many video accounts of the tragedy that help the visitor feel more of what these people must have gone through in the camp. Most of the death that occurred in the camp was from blunt trauma but disease was rampant and also claimed many lives.

The owner performing for us in Lonjsko Polje

From Jasenovac we enjoyed a delicious home-cooked meal on a farmstead in Lonjsko Polje. The owners have won several awards for their contributions to rural economic sustainability, which is a huge economic issue Croatia is facing. Ninety five percent of tourism in Croatia is on the coast, so the continental portion of Croatia is in dire need of economic influx. We enjoyed petting the animals and talking to the owners who gave us a full tour of their historic home.
From Lonjsko Polje, we continued east to Osijek, where we were able to observe the change in scenery to lush, agricultural fields of grapes, corn and other cash crops. From the bus, we also observed the large number of Croats tending their fields manually. However we did see several tractors that were also used to raise the crops. This eastern area of Croatia is the "bread basket" and produces the agricultural goods for most of the country.

May 20
After spending the night in Osijek, we proceeded to Vukovar, where we were able to see the massive devastation of the recent war in 1991. The city of Vukovar was under heavy fire during the war because it sits on the Danube River which forms a border between Croatia and Serbia. The remaining bullet-splattered buildings can almost tell the story without any words. This war left thousands of maimed and disabled war veterans and innocent citizens. Although the country is making some strides in accommodating persons with disabilities, it has a long way to go. We observed many uneven roads with few ramps that would make traversing the city for anyone with a physical disability quite difficult. As a result of the recent war, the Croatians have learned a great deal about trauma care and are well advanced in the area now. In the next post, we will tell all about our visit to the Zagreb emergency room. Because the war is of recent history, many Croats are unable to talk about it and have not been able to move past the intense pain of the travesty. This makes the rebuilding process quite a slow endeavor.
We visited the sight of a large massacre of over 200 innocent hospital patients, doctors and nurses. This was another very somber moment for us as we tried to imagine the atrocity of such ethnic warfare and genocide.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's great to know that you're enjoying your stay in Croatia! Croatia shounds to have so much to offer that I am seriously thinking of visiting it in the near future.
I'll be reading your blog...If possible, please write about the University of Zagreb when you have time. Have fun! Haixia