Mirsad Solakovic is an actor, author, public speaker, and an ex-JCC student!
He returned to JCC to give a brilliant speech in accordance with Holocaust Memorial Day.
The Bosnian War began when Mirsad was a child. Him and his family were quickly imprisoned in a make-shift concentration camp fashioned out of his own school. He recounts his harrowing stories of captivity in his autobiography, including their eventual release, and how they survived through a network of refugee camps. His family fled across Europe before finally making their way to Birmingham when Mirsad was 13. When they reached the UK, Mirsad’s experiences had left him completely unable to speak. He was soon diagnosed with PTSD.
In spite of all of this, Mirsad stood before us on Tuesday afternoon giving an inspiring talk on the importance of respect and understanding one-another. He wrote his full story and his important message in his book, ‘The Boy who Said Nothing: A Child’s Story of Fleeing Conflict’.
He told us about his home town in Bosnia, then showed us pictures of his war-torn neighbourhood. ‘What’s missing?’ he asked, pointing to buildings riddled with bullet holes, ‘the people’, replied one of our students.
When drawing comparisons between his home town’s multicultural community and Birmingham’s, he told us ‘we must build bridges among the people’. He emphasised the power and potential of bright young people and, with a notable focus on our students, he encouraged us to build a better future.
We heard one of his poems about his nightmarish experiences. Then he helped us untangle the web of history and politics surrounding the Bosnian conflict. He urged us all to accept our differences and move forward positively. He overcame extreme adversity to gain a degree in drama from Coventry University, and build a very successful career.
Mirsad’s confidence and his ability to move forward with compassion and kindness is an inspiration to us all. As a Birmingham local, we hope to see him again soon!
You can find his book, ‘The Boy Who Said Nothing; A Child’s Story of Fleeing Conflict’ in the library.