The proud holder of the title Fulbright alumnus, valedictorian of the International Burch University Sarajevo and a cognitive linguist Eldin Milak is one of successful and lucky young people from Bosnia and Herzegovina who were rewarded for their wark far outside of the borders of their country.
However, Eldin Milak promises he will come back.
Who is Eldin Milak and how would he present himself to the people who do not follow his scientific work?
An ordinary 25-year-old man who had a lot of luck in life. A blend of Andrić’s Tomo Galus and Joyce’s Stephen. In terms of social roles, an educational worker, a scientist, an illustrator, a writer. In terms of life roles, a son, a brother, and a friend. A cognitive linguist interested in the relationship between the society and an individual, individual and collective identities, abstract concepts of idols and heroes, and all of that through the prism of language.
You are interested in literature and also in journalism. Which authors you like and what would you recommend for reading and researching during the hot summer days?
When it comes to fiction, I recommend Weinsburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson and The Dubliners by James Joyce. Both books are collections of short stories so they can be read at once, and they are also not very demanding. The stories are studies of life, written in a style that I personally think is matchless, at least regarding English literature. In the field of expert literature, I recommend Metaphors We Live By written by George Lakoff, an extraordinary book which shows us how language forms our perception and interpretation of reality.
You were a valedictorian at the International Burch University. Were there any jealous colleagues?
I would not say so. I had the good fortune to study with an exceptional generation of people who are largely credited for my previous success. If there was any jealousy, I did not pay attention to it.
You are a linguist. How important that scientific discipline is for Bosnians and Herzegovinians and what do they know about it?
Given that our language has been used as a weapon in another political dispute these days, I believe the science of language is necessary in order to establish an objective distance from the current theme. Language is a science, just like other fields. It is sad that everyone thinks they have the right to express their opinions on a nature of one language just because they are able to speak that language. I wonder if the same people set mathematical theories just because they can add up two numbers. Unfortunately, people who are professionals and who should be given the voice are mostly closed in amphitheaters and offices, teaching groups of students who will assume their role one day. Not everything is that black, though; I currently notice a slow, but constant growth of interest in this field in BiH and I hope that trend will continue.
You are the proud winner of Fulbright scholarship. How much will that scholarship mean for you in the future period?
Very much. Apart from having an opportunity to study in the United States of America for one year with full scholarship, the Fulbright alumni have a special status in the academia, so the title of Fulbright alumnus will certainly be meaningful in the future. Furthermore, winners of the Fulbright award are mostly very successful students and scientists, so it is my pleasure to join that group of people and cooperate with them.
Fulbright alumni usually end up in diplomacy and politics. Are those your plans, too?
Never say never, but I definitely do not imagine myself as a diplomat or a politician. I belong in a classroom and in a laboratory.
Can we be sure that you will return to Bosnia and Herzegovina after studying in the United States?
Absolutely. The point of Fulbright scholarship is for the alumnus to return to the country of origin and convey the acquired knowledge and skills to other people. After the completion of the program, I intend to return for the period of at least two to three years.
Can we say you made a promise?
Yes, of course.