The terror of the Bosnia war has left many with a "complete loss of faith in anything," he says. "The wounds haven't healed. When you pry deep enough, you see it."
Ashai argues that, for the Bosnia peace to last, refugees must be returned home to re-create multi-ethnic neighborhoods of Serbs, Croats, and Muslims. "It forces people to interact again," Ashai says. "And [those people] are going to have kids, and those kids aren't going to remember the past."
Bosnia also needs to rebuild its culture and economy, he adds: "No one's building factories. There aren't any jobs. And pay is horrible." War criminals are still on the loose. "If there's a sense of injustice in the country," he concludes, "the war could start again."
Ashai, his cousin, and a friend spent part of the trip aiding ethnic Albanians who'd fled to Bosnia from Serb attacks in Kosovo. After returning to campus, Ashai collected medicine and clothes during spring semester to send to the Kosovar refugees.
Ashai's passion for his research is partly fueled by his own family history. His parents fled their home in the volatile Kashmir region of India before he was born, and his great-grandfather was a founder of the independence movement there. Ashai sees in Bosnia a similar movement - and, unfortunately, similar governmental response.