I can be too Bosnian for the Danes, and too Danish for Bosnians - and I'm really fed up with that. I am neither one nor the other, but both. When September 11 happened, I lived in the US, so I am fortunate to be present where things happen. When I went back to Denmark, my friend said to me "Goodbye my lovely Bosnian-Dane." Then it dawned on me: That's what I am.
For an American, it is perfectly normal to be African-American or Chinese-American, and eating Chinese food and participating in American society is not contradictory. Why do we find it so difficult in Denmark? We ate meatballs in the old days, but now we eat kebab: Why is that a problem? I want to be called Bosnian-Dane. It is the most accurate description and it is of great importance. Language shapes reality. In Yugoslavia, we loved to laugh at each other's dialects, just as here in Denmark we can laugh of someone from southern Jutland or one from the north, but we loved each other, and we were each other's friends, neighbours and family. Then the language in the media quietly started to change. Then came the war. And then came the concentration camps.
When we had children, my husband and I never thought twice about giving them Bosnian names. If I’d had Danish roots, my children would probably have been called Freja, Valdemar and Thor. I love the Nordic names, but since both my husband and I are of Bosnian origin, it would be too weird. I would feel like I had stolen someone else's child. My middle daughter is called Esma, and one of her girlfriends has a rabbit she calls Esma. It's my secret plan. That it should not be unusual to be called Esma in Denmark.
Amira Saric / 40 / female / married / children / occupational and development consultant at Language Center Vejle / from Bosnia-Herzegovina / came to Denmark in 1993 / asylum in 1997