Montville Grad to Teach English in War-Torn Bosnia

Lexi Hartley and four of her peers will spend four weeks educating Bosnian youth.

Montville native Lexi Hartley is embarking on a journey this summer that few get the chance to experience and while she will surely learn a great deal from the opportunity, her primary focus is on teaching others.

Hartley, a 2011 Montville Township High School graduate, will travel to Sarajevo, in Bosnia-Herzegovinia, this summer to help run a summer camp teaching English and non-violent communications. While she is still in America, the College of William and Mary sophomore is hoping to spread awareness about her project, which she is teaming up with four of her peers on, and solicit donations.

"I'm interested in education and that's how I got involved but a lot of the other people are interested in government," Hartley said.

The American students will spend four weeks teaching a group of about 70 Bosnian kids and teenagers English and video production skills. The videos the Bosnian students produce will include short fiction pieces and documentaries and will be utilized as a way for the students to practice their English-speaking skills.

The Bosnia Project, which is the official name of Hartley's program, began in 1998 when Yugoslav scholar Mihailo Crnobrnja initiated a partnership with an organization working to bring therapy to children who suffered emotional trauma during the war, which lasted from 1992-95. The College of William and Mary also partners with the same organization and invites five of its own students to travel to Bosnia and assist with therapy through teaching.

The selection process for the five students is comprehensive, with previous Bosnia Project participants conducting interviews. Once they are chosen, the students begin preparing for the trip by studying the region they will be visiting so as to be better prepared for their time there.

"We look at political articles, looking at the history of the region, the current political situation and the education structure," Hartley said.

The William and Mary students have also begun to use new technology and social media sites, such as Facebook and Tumblr, to share information about the project and what is going on in Bosnia. They have been collecting donations for their trip and the project through the Internet as well.

Hartley said that in addition to the trip, she is working to become certified in teaching English as a second language.

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