Bosnian Community

(Tim Lloyd)

Busch Stadium will again play host to an international soccer match this summer.

The St. Louis Cardinals announced Wednesday that Liverpool F.C., from England, will take on the Italian Club A.S. Roma on Monday, August 1, at 7:30 p.m.

Shaun Tamprateep of Fenton wants to explore St. Louis' cultural diversity. He studied Tourism and Hospitality in his father's home country of Thailand, and works as a driver for Metro Transit’s Call-A-Ride service.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Shaun Tamprateep grew up in Fenton, playing in the woods with a gang of neighborhood boys and sometimes landing at a friend’s house for dinner.

He noticed other families ate more hamburgers and fewer spicy dishes. But he didn’t pay much attention to the differences in his home — until he was almost a teenager.

Melissa Gerth and Arnela Bogdanic in rehearsal at Grbic Banquet Hall, where "Bosnian/American: The Dance for Life" plays April 15-16 before moving to Fontbonne University.
Traci Clapper

The generation gap is said to be narrowing as more millennials move back in with, and seek advice from, their parents. But in St. Louis, the chasm may be growing for one group of young adults.

Two decades ago, Bosnian genocide survivors arrived in St. Louis penniless and ravaged by war. In one generation, they’ve built businesses, bought homes and raised children who are succeeding at high school and college — and assimilation. A new Mustard Seed play, “Bosnian/American: The Dance for Life,” explores the lives of these young adults, weaving their story around a traditional Bosnian tale about a young sheep and a menacing wolf.

Texas Room recording Session
Provided by Jarred Gastriech

Last year local musician Louis Wall decided to record and produce an album pairing St. Louis-born with immigrant musicians. At the time, he didn’t know it would expand to include roughly 50 people from 15 countries across five continents. Wall says the key to making an album with that many contributors is keeping it accessible to everyone.

“I mean, this is probably just pop music 101, but it’s having people relate to many broad things,” he said.

Bosnians of all ages gathered near the Sebilj Fountain in South City
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

Twenty years ago the Dayton Peace Accord put an end to the extreme violence and ethnic cleansing of the Bosnian War. But many St. Louis Bosnians feel the document left the country with no road to progress.

Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio

Nedim Ramic has a powerful personal connection to what he sees happening in the world today in regard to Syrian refugees.

“Being a refugee myself, coming to this country as a refugee and seeing how the Bosnian-American community has flourished and helped the St. Louis region in many ways, it would be a moral crime to go against admitting refugees from Syria into the United States,” said Ramic, now an attorney with Bajric & Ramic Law Office in south St. Louis.

“This is a moment in history that makes you as an individual; that makes you as a nation and allows you to follow those moral guidelines as humans that we’ve got to help other humans. That’s above religion, that’s above everything else.”

Bosnians and thier allies marched down Gravois Ave. Saturday in honor of the Srebrenica massacre
Willis Ryder Arnold | St. Louis Public Radio

About 1,500 people gathered in south St. Louis to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica genocide Saturday evening with a solemn re-enactment and walk.

Original Story published July 9, 2015

  Elvir Ahmetovic, 33, is a teacher in the St. Louis public school system. Twenty years ago, he was a child living through an event that has been called the largest civilian slaughter on European soil since the holocaust

“My parents thought, OK, this is something temporary, something ephemeral, we are civilized people after all, we will not let the situation escalate that bad, but unfortunately just in a matter of weeks they came to our village and started killing people,” he said.

Flickr | alancleaver_2000

A second juvenile will stand trial as an adult for the November death of a Bosnian immigrant.

Emanuele Berry | St. Louis Public Radio

For young Bosnians in St. Louis, trying to make sense of their identity can be a complex task.

Laura Kromják, an International Visiting Fellow at Saint Louis University, says the younger generation of the St. Louis’ Bosnian community is trying to understand themselves as both Bosnian and American.

Akif Cogo
Rebecca Smith | St. Louis Public Radio

The St. Louis region’s Bosnian community long has been touted as the largest in the world outside of Bosnia itself.

But, as some local activists add ruefully, their numbers have yet to translate into political clout.

“We definitely have that sense of being ignored,’’ said Akif Cogo, founder of St. Louis Bosnians Inc., a nonprofit organization advocating for the tens of thousands of Bosnian-Americans who now call St. Louis home.

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

  Updated Sat., May 31

Bosnia won the match against Ivory Coast 2-1.

Our previous story:

The Bosnian National Soccer Team squares off in a friendly match against Ivory Coast this evening at the Edward Jones Dome. It’s a safe bet it will feel a bit like a home game for Bosnian players.

Over the decades, the ties between St. Louis and Bosnia have grown deeper and deeper. As refugees from the Bosnian war found new homes in St. Louis, the region became home to what is estimated to be the largest Bosnian population outside of eastern Europe.     

Endi Poskov

“Bosnian Born,” a multimedia art exhibit showcasing the work of artists born in Bosnia-Herzegovina, opened May 29 in the Fine Arts Gallery of Fontbonne University. It will be on display in St. Louis through June 27. St. Louis is home to more Bosnians than anywhere in the world outside of the country itself.

Curator Sejla Holland created the exhibit two years ago to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Bosnian War.

In South St. Louis
File photo | Robert Joiner | St. Louis Beacon

Mehnaz Afridi was astonished to learn that half of this area’s Muslims are Bosnians. The Muslim scholar will be in the area March 31 to give the Lee Institute lecture on the issues faced by Muslim women. For many in St. Louis, one of the main issues is correcting misperceptions.

The great majority of Bosnians resettled here between 20 and 11 years ago to escape the former Yugoslavia’s devastating war of religious persecution in 1992-95. Members of the new generation, born in St. Louis, are now graduating from high school.

Maureen Byrne
SLSO

After the devastating war that ravaged Bosnia and Herzegovina from early 1992 through 1995, refugees began arriving in the St. Louis area. And now the Bosnian population here has grown to more than 60,000, making it the largest Bosnian community outside of that country.

This Wednesday evening, the St. Louis Symphony will present a free concert in its “On Stage at Powell” Chamber Concert Series called “Bosnian Journeys: Generations.”

U.S. Department of Defense via Wikimedia Commons

Kenan Trebinčević was 11 years old when the Bosnian War arrived in his hometown of Brcko on May 1, 1992. He remembers going to buy bread at the store and being told by a neighbor not to come back because “pretty soon you Turks won’t need to be eating anymore.”

Our Tim Lloyd reports for WBUR's "Only A Game."

(via Flickr/NathanReed)

The St. Louis region needs more immigrants to help bolster the economy.

That was the message delivered by public officials and representatives from economic development agencies during the launch of St. Louis Mosaic Project on the same day comprehensive immigration reform cleared the U.S. Senate.   

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

Many Bosnian residents in south St. Louis City continue to feel unnerved by the murder of Haris Gogic, a 19-year-old convenience store worker who was killed three weeks ago.

Days later a 30-year old 7-Eleven worker, Mon Rai, was shot death.  

President of the Bosnian Chamber of Commerce, Sadik Kukic, said some members of the community have considering leaving south city in favor of the county or another city all together.

Ben Moore

About 60,000 Bosnians live in St. Louis.  That’s estimated to be more Bosnians per capita than anywhere else in the world outside of Bosnia.

Bosnians settled in St. Louis during the 1990s, after the break-up of the former Yugoslavia and ensuing war and genocide.  Bosnia, or Bosnia and Herzegovina is a country in southeastern Europe, on the Balkan Peninsula.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of when Bosnians came to St. Louis and questions surrounding Bosnian cultural and national identities remain unresolved.

Tim Lloyd / St. Louis Public Radio

This fall will mark the 20th anniversary of the first refugees from the Bosnian war arriving in St. Louis.

We’re continuing our ongoing look at their experiences in this country with a story about business, more specifically, business and cultural identity.   

Many of the early Bosnian entrepreneurs catered to other Bosnians in St. Louis. 

That’s starting to change, though, as Bosnian business owners search for success by connecting with the larger community.    

Have you ever asked yourself: “Could I completely start over?”

The folks over at Atlantic Cites have an article up today examining the origins of our sizable Bosnian immigrant population. St. Louis native Kathy Gilsinan writes the piece. Also, check out our Tim Lloyd's series on the city's Bosnian population - click on the "Bosnian community" tag below.

Tim Lloyd/St. Louis Public Radio

Next year will mark the 20th anniversary of the first refugees from the Bosnian War arriving in St. Louis. 

In the coming months we’re going to take a closer look at their experiences in this country and how their presence has changed the cultural landscape of our city.   

But to know how St. Louis became home to what’s estimated to be the largest Bosnian population outside of eastern Europe, you have to first understand the brutal ethnic war that many of them fled.