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Bosnian family finds success in the Q-C
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Photo: John Greenwood
Vladimir, Sanja and Zlata Micic, along with Chiki the dog, fled Sarajevo, Bosnia, during the war of 1992. All family members are educated, and daughter Sanja is getting her master's degree in public health so she can work for UNICEF.
Sanja Mičić is an enthusiastic woman, ambitious and dedicated, both to her community and her future.

She's finishing her master's degree in community and behavioral public health at the University of Iowa. When she's not at school or relaxing at home with Chiki, her miniature schnauzer, she works in the reception and medical records department at Genesis Convenient Care. She said she would like to work in the public health field at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or UNICEF.

Sanja, her parents, Vladimir and Zlata, and her brother, Goran, have been in the Quad-Cities since May 1999. Before that, they lived in Almanzora, Spain, a small town on the Mediterranean coast.

Originally, the family was from Sarajevo, Bosnia, but they had to leave in December 1992 to "save our lives," as Sanja put it. She was 9 when they left the war-torn region.

When asked how they ended up in the Quad-Cities, Sanja told a tale of American opportunity and family bonds. "We escaped from the war in the Balkans in '92, lived in Spain until '99 and then came to the states.

"We didn't have any family in Spain, and my mom's brother, Zoran, was living in the Q-C so we decided to follow them. Also my parents were facing two college students in the future, and life in Spain was economically much more difficult than here," she said.

She said the initial transition was "a little hard" for the family, mostly because of the language barrier. "My parents started taking English classes so they could better their speaking skills. Mom spoke absolutely no English."

Their Serban-Croation language still is spoken at home at times, but English is primary.

Sanja calls the Quad-Cities a welcoming community and said she was most surprised by the "variety of different nationalities."

Her first impressions of the Midwest were how big everything appeared. "In Europe, everything is so close, like the buildings. Here it is more spacious with lots of land and space."

Sanja was 16 when she arrived in Davenport, and she attended North High School. After graduation she got a bachelor's degree in Spanish from the University of Iowa and now commutes three times per week to Iowa City to complete her master's degree.

The Mičić family has found success and happiness in the United States, which has made the journey worth it. Sanja's dad, who was a biology and chemistry teacher in Bosnia, is a lab technician at Siyver Steel.Her mom is a hairstylist at JCPenney in Moline. Her older brother lives in Chicago with his wife, Sarah, a Tennessee native.

"My parents are looking forward to retiring and being grandparents, hopefully in the near future," Sanja said.

Their European heritage has a special place in their life. "It shapes us in every way. Both of my parents' families are hard workers, and we continued their work ethic. Also, the importance of having a close relationship with family and helping each other out is so important.

"And we also believe that we can achieve our dreams if we work hard. The words 'I can't' or 'I'm not capable' don't exist in our vocabulary. Work hard and you will see results. My parents always say: 'If I did it, you can too.'"

The family also is big on New Year celebrations, a homeland tradition. They also eat mostly Bosnian inspired food. Sanja's favorite is her mom's pita bread stuffed with potatoes, spinach and cheese and hercabbage rolls and soups.

While Sanja loves the Quad-Cities, she said she's open to moving to find her dream job. Her brother wants to live in Florida, so she's thinking that might be an ideal place to settle.

But the family bonds always will run deep, whether in the Quad-Cities or Bosnia where they still have relatives and they still travel as a family.

"When we are here, we miss our home country and our family. But when we are there, after a while, we start missing our life here. Of course we are happy to be around relatives, visit friends and enjoy our culture. But now we feel like we belong here more than there."

Bosnia and Herzegovina
— Location:Southeastern Europe, bordering the Adriatic Sea and Croatia.

— Population:3,879,296 (July 2012 estimate). No. 128 in the world.

— Languages:Bosnian (official), Croatian (official), Serbian.

Source: CIA World Factbook.

Local events heading

  Today is Saturday, Sept. 20, the 263rd day of 2014. There are 102 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: Recruits can get $500 by enlisting now. Lt Jobe has a recruiting office on Illinois Street.
1889 -- 125 years ago: Superintendent Schnitger formally inaugurated the Rock Island and Davenport Railway Line of the Holmes system by putting on four cars to start.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Wires of the defunct Union Electric Co. are being removed by city electricians.
1939 -- 75 years ago: The Bishop Hill softball team won the championship in WHB"S Mississippi Valley tournament at Douglas Park.
1964 -- 50 years ago: A boom in apartment construction has hit Rock Island, with approximately 300 units either in or near the construction stage or due for an early rezoning decision.
1989 -- 25 years ago: Members of the Bi-State Metropolitan Planning Commission are hoping to revive their push for a new $70 million four-lane bridge spanning the Mississippi River.

(More History)