Alex escaped war torn Bosnia as a child and now lives in the U.S. working at Great Western Bank.

Strength in Cultural Diversity—Faces of GWB: Alex

Each year, World Day for Cultural Diversity is honored in May. This day serves to recognize all cultures, deepen the understanding around those cultures, and better identify the values of cultural diversity.

Within Great Western Bank, we celebrate the cultural diversity of our employees throughout the year but are using the month of May to honor four of our own. As we look to their individual stories, we see a path carved with cultural richness, stories of acculturation and an introspective look at their uniquely individualized journeys.

Read Alex’s story:

Alex, a GWB employee for over seven years, recalls the indelible memory of her mom waking her and her sister in the middle of the night to escape their war-torn country of Bosnia when she was just five years old.

That night, the three embarked on their journey, starting with a train ride to Berlin, Germany where they would seek asylum with Alex’s grandfather. It would be several months later before Alex’s father would join them in Germany. As a member of the Bosnian military, Alex’s father had to stay behind until he was able to seek refuge and join his family in Germany.

For three years, Alex and her family lived in Germany until they had to choose between returning to Bosnia or submitting application to the U.S., Australia, or Canada. At the age of 8, Alex and her family were given an opportunity to start their lives in the U.S.

Alex speaks three languages: her native Bosnian, German, and English. Her parents still speak Bosnian in their home and Alex returns the conversation in English. She understands what her parents are saying but over the years has found it more difficult to return the response in Bosnian.

As the “new kid” in school, Alex struggled to acculturate. To compound circumstances, Alex’s parents were especially protective of her and her sister. She was restricted in middle and high school from doing what might otherwise be considered “normal” things – no sleepovers or going out with friends.

Alex now understands her parents’ protective nature was in direct response to their formative experiences in Bosnia. Family is the center of all that is important, and all that is important is shared by the family.

Alex, now the matriarch of her own family, understands the full sacrifice her parents made for their family and cherishes the moments they spend united, defined by a story of strength and perseverance.

Great Western Bank supports a rich tapestry of cultural diversity. We recognize the differences of our employees and support the unique talents and backgrounds each brings to their work environments. From the diverse contributions of our employees, we are strengthened together.

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