The Art of Storytelling
Growing up, the sounds of bombs detonating around me made my life uncertain. I was born in Tuzla, Bosnia, in 1991, during the Bosnian Genocide. My family and neighbors lived for two years in the dark basement of an apartment building because it was safer indoors than going outside. Lit by candles, the basement was dusty, dark, and anytime I reached my hand too far, I would touch cobwebs. We ate stale, dry, month-old crackers that went down my throat like coals. Grenades constantly fell and to this day I do not like the sound of jets in the sky.
When I was 5 years old, my parents found a way to move us to the U.S. I remember walking outside into the sunlight, knowing I was rescued, my dreams attainable again. On the airplane to our new country, I read an alphabet book and learned my first English word: Apple. It was the beginning of a relationship with reading and writing in my new language—and the beginning of my healing from our family’s trauma.
Once we arrived here, my family did not want to discuss what we had faced so I began writing as a way to express myself. Writing helped me realize these stories were not fiction. It was also a way for me to move on.
Looking back now, as I’m about to graduate from the University of Arizona with a degree in psychology, writing and the acquisition of the English language was sacred and ultimately healing to the psychological distress I had endured in Bosnia. I attribute my growth as an individual to the ability to write because it helped me empty the negative memories from my mind. In addition to it being therapeutic, writing has helped me launch my professional career.
As 7 a.m. rolls around Monday morning, the hallways of Madden Media in downtown Tucson are dark and silent. I get to work early because I manage tourism and marketing campaigns for our clients in the Southeast and Midwest. My desk is disappearing beneath proposals, drafts, ad designs, color proofs, reports, travel guides and magazines. The mess, my overtime and our hectic schedule are all signs of a busy season.
I love my job for its creativity, positive atmosphere and the people, and it incorporates writing every day—emails, reports, design edits, and other documents vital to communicating with departments and clients. My coworkers decorate each other’s desks when it is someone’s birthday, and my teammate in the sales support department makes the cubicles smell of sweet Reese’s brownie cakes. Her work ethic and writing skills far surpass my own, yet together, we are a strong team.
Reflecting back, I consider myself extremely lucky and fortunate. Ultimately, my goal is take on a leadership position, managing the company’s operations. I also want to write a novel expressing my fascination and terror with the violence of genocide. Because I am so ambitious, I know my life will continue to improve.
Photo credit: Krista Niles
Adaleta Avdic is a UA psychology major who is originally from Bosnia, which is located in eastern Europe. Avdic also serves as account project coordinator for Madden Media, a Tucson-based marketing and publishing company that specializes in tourism.
University of Arizona in the News