News on Sunday

The Dzakula couple: From war refugees to academics in the USA

Circumstances can make render a person better or bitter. Remaining committed to one’s principles can definitely change the meaning of one’s life. Bozo and Maida Dzakula are living examples of a couple who have risen higher after every downfall. Boza and Maida Dzakula are currently in Mauritius for holidays. Bozo Dzakula is a faculty development specialist at the Defence Language Institute for Foreign Language (DLIFLC) and his wife Maida is assistant professor and language instructor at the same institution in California. They are trained teachers about strategies, methodologies and how to teach foreign language to students. Originating from Bosnia, the couple have left their country during the turmoil, mostly civil war, in 1992. The thirst for power led leaders to instigate hatred which culminated in massacres between the different religious groups present in that region. “We had Bosnians who were Muslims, Croats who were Catholics, Serbs who were Eastern Orthodox as well as some Jewish people. We had four main religions and life was beautiful. Being a Muslim, it was fine for me to marry a Catholic. My parents did not have anything against that and Bozo’s parents accepted me. We were both in the teaching field and were working for the government. I taught Serbo-Croatian language and Yugoslavian literature. We had two private businesses. Our lives changed overnight,” narrates Maida. At that time, people started to fight for nationality, religion and power which finally led to war in the region. “That was a shocking experience. Life for Muslims became difficult. It was a time where religion and nationality became more important than humanity,” she adds. Bozo Dzakula debated the freedom that ruled over the country. “We were free to practice our religion. Our slogan was brotherhood and unity though it was a communist regime. It was a great model for others. That was life in Bosnia. We were very happy and secure before the war,” he points out. The couple waited for two years before deciding to leave everything behind and migrate. Their only hope was to see peace coming back to their country and to live like before. “Life became difficult for us. After two years, we felt that we were protected as my husband’s name was Christian. I thought it might protect me, too. Our IDs consisted of middle names and my father’s name was Mohammad and nobody can make mistakes with that. Bozo’s name would not protect me enough. We had to escape from infighting between the two opposing factions,” Maida says. Along with their children, they both migrated to Croatia but had to leave after some time, as war followed their tracks and gained that country as well. “We would do two to three jobs a day” During their ordeal, the United States of America opened its doors to these war victims. “We were welcomed by the Americans. They knew we were innocent victims. Many Muslims and Croats received assistance. Language was a barrier when we arrived in the USA but we were not afraid to integrate,” Maida confides. Once in their new abode, with nothing in hand, the couple had to start from scratch all over again. Maida’s first job was in a grocery store where she would earn $4.25 per hour followed by a part time job in a McDonald restaurant. “My first job was for $45.50. I was doing some kind of painting art. I was myself amazed that I was able to learn that so quickly. We would line up two to three jobs a day. We needed money to support our family. That made us very successful,” Bozo Dzakula shares. Life was challenging for the new immigrant family. Their only aim was to earn enough money to live and provide for their children. “When we came to the United States, we were angry, hungry, depressed and concerned about what will happen to us. However, I was not afraid. I used to be afraid when I would hear a bomb. Life in America was challenging and adventurous. We would attend evening English classes. We learned English from our children who were, at that time, going to school and working with Americans also helped a lot,” Maida highlights. Very quickly, due to their experience and qualifications, Bozo and Maida integrated the education system. Maida later pursued her Master’s degree in teaching foreign languages and her PhD in pragmatic skills. Their love story began at the university’s library Their love story started at the university. Bozo and Maida studied at the same university but they did not know each other. “I knew that Maida was a good girl but at that time, my aim was to have my diploma in hand. I was not interested in relationships. It all started after some years,” Bozo explains. After graduating, they both pursued their seperate paths. Maida went to a different university before returning to the city while Bozo started working. “One day, I was at the university library, looking for books. I heard someone say hello. It was Bozo and I avoided him. In my culture, we were not allowed to speak or smile at strangers. He asked me again: ‘Are you looking for books for your students?’ I then realised that this guy knew pretty much what I was doing. We started talking and things moved on from there. Five and a half years later, we were married,” Maida says, laughing.
Related Article

Notre service WhatsApp. Vous êtes témoins d`un événement d`actualité ou d`une scène insolite? Envoyez-nous vos photos ou vidéos sur le 5 259 82 00 !