Drew came here in 1999 to train BiH journalists in the use of the internet. Since not much is learned about this part of the world in the US, many historical facts surprised him, like the centuries of Ottoman rule in the region.
Stories about life and death
- I had never been to Europe, and my stay in Sarajevo was very interesting. Back in the US, people were writing about quality of life, while here, people were still talking about life and death, and the stories told by the brave Sarajevo reporters were fascinating. Even though the city was still recovering from war wounds, it seemed lovely to me.
While he hadn’t planned on living here, one job prospect led to another, and he had been returning regularly since 2000. He founded the CIN in 2004, which led to the OCCRP in 2008.
- I eventually started a family and we have settled down in this fascinating city that has a wonderful and resilient character, where it's easy to live and hard to leave.
Drew sees Sarajevo as a city brimming with influences from various epochs and cultures.
- Sarajevans are interesting and friendly, but intense people, they're used to change. Living for centuries on the border between East and West, they've absorbed various influences, which has led to a unique local culture, markedly different from the rest of BiH and the Balkans.
He says visitors should familiarize themselves with Sahat Kula, Baščaršija, Vratnik, Svrzo and Inat Houses, the Tunnel of Hope, the site of the Sarajevo Assassination, the safely displayed Haggadah, Safet Zec’s art and festivals.
- I love tradition and functional art, so I often buy things on Kazandžiluk St., and not long ago I bought a handmade carpet in Goražde.
He is a member of Broken House Band, a versatile band that has been around for a decade and blends various music genres.
- One of the most talented musicians I know, Armin Alagić of Sarajevo, is the heart of this band that now plays Irish and Balkan tunes, which are similar, sophisticated and complex. Balkan music is a treasure the world will come to make more use of.
The band will perform at the 4th Sarajevo Irish Festival (Mar. 15-17), held in honor of St. Patrick's Day.
- We'll be playing the greatest Irish hits, and this year’s festival will see the terrific Irish band, Notify, a fusion of traditional Irish music and jazz.
In his free time, Drew runs the local Texas Hold 'em Poker Tournament at Coloseum. His favorite food is hadžijski ćevap, and favorite eateries include: Dveri, Kibe Mahala, ASDŽ Aščinica.... He often travels around BiH, a country full of lovely scenery and colorful towns like Travnik, Stolac, Blagaj....