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Service Visit: A Day to Remember at Maslina Children’s Center

Students visit Djecji dom Maslina Children’s Center, the oldest children’s home in Croatia. It is a beautiful four-story home situated on the steep hills outside the old town of Dubrovnik, overlooking the bright blue bay. Walking in we pass a basketball court, seesaw, and beautifully shaded pergola. Upon arrival Director, Ilijana Stojanovic, welcomes the students. She speaks about the home and their mission to keep siblings together and build a positive environment.

Students are welcomed by Director, Ilijana Stojanovic, and ask questions about the children living here. They learn that there are some differences between this Croatian Children’s Home and the foster care system utilized in the United States; Stojanovic says that Croatia does not rely on foster homes very much, primarily because there is limited oversight in that environment.
Students make new friends at the Djecji dom Maslina Children’s Center, where they take mini Polaroid pictures with the children living there. These keepsakes, in a way, remind these young people that the world community can be their family.
Students had time to share stories and get to know the children that reside at this home. Tyler Knell from Illinois State University, plays a few songs on his guitar before showing these girls how to play for themselves. Knell gifted this guitar to the home before he left.

This is the highlight of my trip. I didn’t think I would have such a strong connection. Even though we couldn’t interact with language we could interact through activity like coloring and smiling. This is my first time in this kind of situation and environment. It makes you step back and realize what you have back at home, and how fortunate you are. Nothing compares to this moment. I knew I wanted to be a psychology major, but now I know I want to work with little kids because I feel like I can connect really well. Briana Geraci from El Camino College

Katie Jernigen from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill connects with Imma, one of the children living at Djecji dom Maslina Children’s Center.

I bonded with a girl named Imma. When we went to the orphanage we brought little coloring books, which gave us all the opportunity to open up. I think we live in a bubble sometimes. I had the harsh realization that not everyone has what we have. I noticed differences from American society. There are many things we take for granted. Katie Jernigen from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

As the visit comes to a close students give hugs and wave goodbye to their new friends living in Croatia.
  • Culture
  • Education
  • Service

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