What do a library book, a 10 month-old fetus, and a Kelton Miller blog post all have in common? They are all overdue. As last year’s Super Bowl Patriots would say after launching a comeback, “better late than never.”
Last week, Leah and I went to the US Embassy Branch Office located downtown. It is like your typical run of the mill embassy, but without official diplomatic status. The true Bosnian embassy lies in Sarajevo, so the United States has a smaller base in Banja Luka to keep their finger on the pulse of all parts of the country. The ground the Embassy in Sarajevo rests on officially belongs to America. This is a interesting factoid for you. Because Bosnia used to be part of Yugoslavia, a state where land was largely collective, there was no official ownership of property during that time. When Bosnia became its own country, America was one the first and few to be official land owners. This is an even more interesting factoid!
However, in Banja Luka, the US Branch Office does not sit upon American soil. This is the main difference. When Leah and I visited, the security was just as tight and professional as in Sarajevo. We had our passports examined, we were scanned by metal detectors and were given official ‘guest’ badges. We then met Ed Gallagher who is the head honcho of American operations in Banja Luka. We received a briefing about the town and being a American citizen abroad. We felt very important.
We then had dinner with Ed Gallagher and his wife Julie. They were both incredibly welcoming and loved talking about YES Abroad and their fascinating experiences as foreign service officers. We were also joined by Sutton Meagher, another Banja Luka Branch Office employee and our local coordinator Lela (not pictured).
On Thursday, Leah and I attended a very swanky embassy function here in Banja Luka. To prove its swankiness, here is a picture of the invitation.
Here are some pictures from inside the actual event.
The woman in the red dress is Maureen E. Cormack, the US ambassador stationed in Sarajevo. Leah and I felt like the smallest fish in a shark tank. Everyone in the room had resumes longer than Leah and I had been alive. However, everyone was happy to talk with us and tell us about their jobs and their political vision. It was a fascinating first taste of official diplomacy.
In other exciting news, Kelton P. Miller. I was literally on the local news promoting YES Abroad. The link can be found here:
The video is in Serbian and even I was dubbed over. This is my first ever experience with dubbing. Never has anything I’ve said ever mattered enough to foreigners to warrant a dub. This could be a major first step in my career in international broadcasting or a completely inconsequential video from a small local Bosnian station. Either way it’s still cool.
Some highlights include:
-Picking my nose at 1:05
-Using my drug dealer phone at 1:14
-I undergo a name change to Kelson at 1:24
-I use the patented “wrap it up” finger wave at 1:42
-My local coordinator, Lela, makes an appearance at 2:00
That about wraps it up for me here in Bosnia (finger wave) so here is a nice collection of photos to make sure nobody forgets what I look like.
Up first we have some pictures of Leah, Đorđe (pronounced George-y), and I promoting the YES Abroad program.
These next pictures come from a little countryside outing my family took. My host dad can be seen with a wild mushroom and a tame dog. My host mom and eldest host brother, Luka, can be seen posing with me.
I will leave you with this crazy snail/slug action I stumbled upon on my way to school. I had no idea what was going on so I watched them for a while and I still literally couldn’t make heads or tails of it.