Featured Partner School: Outward Bound Croatia

Interview with Executive Director, Dado

What is your name and where are you from?
VLADIMIR MESARIC (mesahrich), nickname DADO (dahdoh); ZAGREB, CROATIA

How do you spend your time?
Working for OB Croatia and helping with the travel agency I founded; Besides, I’m trying to be outdoors as much as possible. Rock climbing and high altitude mountaineering are my favorite free time activities.

What was your first ever experience with OB?
In spring 2006 OB Romania instructors came over to Croatia and conducted the first 10 days TOT (Training for Trainers) for OB Croatia staff. But I had some information about Outward Bound for some time, before 2006.

Please tell us a favorite story from an OB expedition.
There are many. Maybe this one: We work with “tough” kids who, at the beginning of the program, reject everything we teach. Two girls decided to leave the program in wilderness on a second day. We let them go; they returned half an hour later realizing that they really do not know where to go because the were “in the middle of nowhere”. At the end of the program they asked “When can we join the next course?”

What were your motivation for opening OB Croatia?
It is an opportunity and challenge to apply all my outdoor, professional and life experience to set up a high quality organization with the main objective of experiential outdoor education.

What do you envision as the most long-term goals of OB Croatia’s programs?
To participate in the educational system; to became leader in outdoor education among NGOs; to participate in governmental and private social care system; to play significant role in educating Croatian future leaders.

How are OB Croatia and OB Peacebuilding related?
First contact between OB Croatia and OB Peacebuilding was established when founder Beth Anglin Knox was in Zagreb in Spring 2007 on her way to Rwanda. She conducted a short soft skills training for our staff. During her stay in Croatia she talked about OB Peacebuilding beginnings. As Croatia suffered from ethnic violence in the recent past, the idea and need of peacebuilding are close to us. Later we met Beth in New Zealand at the staff symposium in 2007; there she told us about the progress of OB Peacebuilding. It seems that our OB centers started about the same time, in 2006/2007. When we heard about the possibility to work together this year, we were really excited.

What excites you about OB Peacebuilding?
Results! We saw here two groups of young people from different sides of a high fence become friends: that fact inspired me and my colleagues. We hope we can use the experience of OB Peacebuilding here in Croatia.

What does peace mean to you?
Stability, ability for ordinary people to live without fear, and dignity with the prospect for a better future.