Photo Credit: Aila Ganic
Tue, 02/02/2021 - 14:09

Major: Political science
Hometown: Lincoln, Nebraska

As a first-generation American, Aila Ganic grew up in two cultures.

"I love growing up with two cultures...sometimes you kind of feel torn between the two, like they're both pulling you one way or another," Aila said. "But I think it's just been really awesome to be able to have two parts of myself and be able to experience both cultures and the richness of both and be proud of who I am and the culture I was raised by."

Aila's parents fled Bosnia during the war and genocide of the '90s and eventually settled in Lincoln. They connected with the city's large Bosnian refugee population, which allowed Aila to grow up alongside many other first-generation Bosnian-Americans.

During summer 2020, Aila founded the Bosnian American Student Alliance. The registered student organization (RSO) provides a space for Aila and her fellow first-generation Bosnian-American students to share their experiences in adjusting to life between two cultures and helps them maintain bonds to their common heritage.

Additionally, the RSO was created to give other University of Nebraska–Lincoln students an opportunity to learn more about Bosnia and its traditions.

"One thing about Bosnians that makes us really special is how much we love welcoming people into our community and sharing our culture," Aila said.

Aila already feels like BASA has helped her reconnect with her roots. By meeting other Bosnian-American students, showing Bosnian culture to American students, and engaging in this new intercultural community, she is able to appreciate her Bosnian heritage — even though she's thousands of miles away from the country her family once called home.

"I think that making sure that our parents' stories aren't lost, in that we're continuing to share those [stories] and just sharing our perspective on campus with other people... I think that's a really important thing for us to do."