Major Bosniak convention coming to Bowling Green


Members of the Bowling Green community will be able to learn about and experience Bosnian culture firsthand in late May.

The city of Bowling Green will host the 17th annual Convention of Bosniaks in North America. The convention lasts from May 25-28 and will include visits from Bosnian and American leaders, including Bosnian President Bakir Izetbegovic, whose father led the country to independence during the 1990s.

Secretary and public relations coordinator for the convention Gina Dzelil said the convention was created to gather the Bosnian community in America and celebrate their history, culture and accomplishments.

“It helps educate others of our heritage and our children…who might have been born here,” Dzelil said.

Previously, major cities such as Chicago, Toronto, St. Louis and Seattle have hosted the convention, Dzelil said.

“One of our challenges is to host this in a smaller community and still have the effect and excitement of a big city,” she said. “We have to show people that even though we’re a small Bosnian community, we can still host these events here and educate people on our culture.”

While Bowling Green’s population isn’t the size of a major city such as Chicago, nearly 10 percent of its population is Bosnian, Dzelil said. She hopes the events during the convention will not only celebrate Bosniak and Bosnian culture but also educate people who come into contact with Bosnian culture every day.

In addition to the convention weekend, there will be activities on WKU’s campus May 20-25 leading up to the convention itself.

Jerry Daday, associate professor of sociology, is coordinating these events with Dzelil. He’s also offering a May term course called “Genocide and Justice,” lasting from May 14 to June 1. The course will examine “the international crime of genocide and the various international institutions of justice that have been created to prosecute perpetrators,” Daday said.

While the course provides students a broad study of genocide, Daday said part of the class requirement is participating in at least one event during the activities or the convention.

In addition to the class, Daday said the activities leading up to the convention include a photo gallery presentation by WKU graduate Dijana Muminovic, a film series, and several lectures.

“[These events] are where anyone — faculty, students, staff, people from Bowling Green community — if they want to learn about the Bosnian population…the war, and its aftermath, and celebrate the Bosnian population here in Bowling Green,” Daday said.

Dezil said he wants “everybody to come and listen.”

David Lee, dean of Potter College of Arts and Letters, will provide a formal introduction for the lecture night on May 25. Lee said he’s glad the meeting was held in Bowling Green this year and that the convention sounds like an experience that both Bosnians and the general community shouldn’t miss.

“I think it’ll be a success,” he said.