I first met Boro as his Junior Advisor when he moved in for international orientation in August, only his second trip to the U.S. He’s one of the most helpful, supportive and positive people I know, and he’s not afraid to ask deep questions in order to get to know people better. I sat down with Boro to learn more about his home in Bosnia, some of his favorite conversation topics and his newfound love of, if not talent for, playing pool.
Boro, can you tell me a bit about where you’re from?
I come from Bosnia-Herzegovina, which is a country in southeastern Europe in the Balkan Peninsula. I come from a country that is very diverse and a country that’s a conflicting country in that people that live there are really sometimes hostile towards each other, sometimes not. So it’s really tough sometimes, but that’s why I like it here. It’s not as conflicting — at least not as openly conflicting as it is back at home.
Cool. I know that you lived alone in high school; can you tell me a little bit more about that? That seems like an unusual situation.
Yeah. So for the first three years, I lived with my parents; I went to a public grammar school. And after that, I went to live by my own, and I did the IB [international baccalaureate] program in the second-largest city in Bosnia. For the first year there, I lived with a friend. For the second year, I lived all by myself, which was really nice. I prefer living by myself by far, that’s why I’ve taken a single here I guess. [Laughs.] It was sometimes tough, you know, when someone needs to do the chores, if a person doesn’t do it, then a person gets angry and vice versa.
Like with your roommate?
Yeah. But otherwise it’s just really nice. It was a nice time. It really helped me to become more independent. And I guess it helped me to make this transition from living back in Bosnia to living here in the U.S.
But doesn’t that make you way more independent than other people, like in an entry, for example? Did it feel like a funny transition to live with an entry?
It’s funny. I would say it’s different, because I lived only with one friend when I was living independently from my family. So now, living surrounded by 20 people, I would say it’s a different state. I like it. I think it helps me deal with some problems that I have, like I can confess to some people my problems, which was not usually the case when I lived by myself or with that friend.
So I know you really like talking to people. What are some of your favorite questions to ask?
[Laughs.] Well, I love talking to people about how they really are, like I really don’t prefer small talk. I really like to get to know a person better, so I usually ask, ”What’s the biggest fear that you have?” or, ”what would be the three words that you would like for other people to describe you?” I really like talking with people about these personal, opinionated topics. I think that really helps me to get to know people better.
Do people answer those?
Most of the time yes, sometimes no. Shout out to my WOOLF [Williams Outdoor Orientation for Living as First-years] leader, Neel Jain [’19], he’ll know what I’m talking about. Yeah, sometimes I do ask some really tricky questions that people are reluctant to answer and I would be reluctant to answer if I didn’t know those people before. So I understand, I completely understand it. But I just think that if you’re completely open and honest with someone, it’ll get you a long way in getting to know them better and establishing a really long, true friendship between you two.
You’re really into P.E. soccer, right?
Hopefully! P.E. soccer, I.M. soccer, any form of soccer.
Is that a Bosnian thing? Are people really into soccer?
Yeah, I’d say soccer is a national sport, alongside basketball … soccer in Bosnia is a big thing, I guess, and sometimes there are conflicts, between families, for example, and usually the police have to intervene, but there have never been casualties. People bring fireworks and all that stuff.
Do you think you’ll go back to Bosnia after graduation?
Right now, my plan is to, after graduating here, find an internship and then, based on that, either stay in the U.S. and try to work here or go back to Europe, but not specifically to Bosnia because Bosnian society is not functioning really well nowadays. Even though some people are trying to ease the tensions between nationalities or ethnicities, even the most minor changes in society are met with fear and opposition.
What was the story about a flood?
So, two years ago, there were these huge floods in the Balkan region; specifically they hit Bosnia, Serbia and Croatia. My house was one of the first houses that got flooded and we were the first people in my municipality that got evacuated. But we evacuated because we wanted to do it, not because the authorities told us we should, because the authorities were just not helping at all. Anyway, I spent 10 or 15 days, I think, in the house of my ex-girlfriend — I mean, now ex-girlfriend, at the time girlfriend. I was with my parents and her parents under the same roof, which was really weird because they didn’t ever meet before, even though we were two years into the relationship. But they helped us a lot, and it was really nice of them. And now they have some really good ties to us, even though we’re not together anymore. So yeah it was a terrifying experience but also a really good one because it showed me that you really need to have some people in your life that are willing to help you under any circumstances at any point.
I’ve definitely seen that in you, because you’re always helpful to other people in the entry.
Aw, thank you!
You seem like you don’t even need a JA.
I do need a JA. And some friends!
Did you have fun on your WOOLF trip?
My WOOLF trip was maybe one of the best things so far here. I really loved it. I don’t know, I just, when I see those people nowadays, we always see and greet each other. Like we have monthly meetings, which I don’t think many groups do. They’re really kind people; I can truly say that they’re some of my better friends here.
So, to ask one of your favorite questions, what are the three words that you would want people to describe you with?
Ah, I knew you were going to ask me that.
You were asking for it! You said it earlier.
I wasn’t. I’d say the three words I’d like other people to know me as are empathetic, helpful and trustworthy.
That’s awesome. I guess the other thing I was wondering was how you keep such a positive outlook.
That might be part of my nature, I guess. I’ve grown up in a family where you’re really encouraged to do anything that you want, however you want it to do. That’s how it got me here to the U.S. to Williams College to study, I guess. [Laughs.] I mean five-and-something thousand miles away from home is not something easy, but I’m going through it anyway. I forgot the question.
Do you have anything else you’d like to say to the people?
I’m always playing pool, guys, so if you’d like to … join me just come here [Mission Park] and we’ll probably be here. If not, look for me in Pratt 3.
You’re always playing pool but you’re so bad at it, right?
Thank you Marit for calling me out. No I’m not that bad!
Okay, you’ve probably improved a lot.
I hope so! I mean I think I did. But some pool players from my entry are just really good. And when I play with them it’s like, wow, they make some really good shots and sometimes it’s just, you know, I miss the cue ball, which is really sad.
Did you play pool before coming to the College or is this a new hobby?
Oh, this is a completely new hobby. I’ve only played it twice in my life before coming here.
It’s a steep learning curve.
Yes, I am going up.