Writer Marica Prozo found that out first hand when she returned to her native Bosnia in 2011 and 2012 and saw how sporadic that healing has been.
Along with Gettysburg College's professor emerita Janet Powers, Prozo has documented the divided cultures there and worked to bridge those differences by bringing two disparate dance groups, one Christian and one Muslim, together to perform.
Prozo will discuss her trips to Bosnia and her work with Powers at a YWCA of Gettysburg and Adams County brown-bag lunch discussion Tuesday, Jan. 15.
"Every time we go we finish something and we open something else," Prozo said about her work with Powers.
Powers edited Prozo's 2006 book "The Path of No Return: A Refugee Story" which documented her family's exodus from Bosnia in 1994 to Germany and eventual relocation to Gettysburg.
Prozo is working on another book, still untitled, about her return to Bosnia and the research she and Powers have undertaken.
Powers, who has worked extensively with womens' studies and peace studies in Asia and the Middle East, researched the extent of post-conflict change and how the rebuilding of social capital is an essential part of recovery and reconciliation.
As part of that research, Powers and Prozo interviewed both Catholic and Muslim women. Prozo has acted as interpretor as they have visited both sides, Prozo said.
"There is a lot of tension over there," Prozo said. "The rural areas, the villages are ethnically cleaned. The children go to separate schools."
The pair was able to establish a bridging project involving ethnic dance groups in Fojnica and Bakovici. By bringing the traditional folk dance groups together, Prozo said, they are able to share their similar histories.
"Every person thinks he or she is a victim. They don't have a clue, or don't want to admit, that the same thing happened on the other side," Prozo said. "We would like them to share their experiences."
Born in Gojevicima, Bosnia, Prozo earned degrees in psychology and pedagogy from Sarajevo University, and worked as a school psychologist. After civil war began in 1992, she fled with her family to Germany, taking jobs as migrant laborers.
"The German government decided since the war was over you had to go back. Germany was very crowded with refugees," Prozo said.
But Prozo and her family couldn't return to their hometown because it had been ethnically cleansed.
Through a program sponsored by a local Lutheran church, Prozo came to Gettysburg with her husband, Zijad, and their two children, about 12 years ago.
"The Path of No Return" is written from a schoolchild's perspective but is a memoir detailing how the family gradually became caught up in the religious conflict in Bosnia, their journey to Germany and then having start over again in Gettysburg.
If you go
What: YWCA of Gettysburg and Adams County's Brown Bag Lunch discussion with author and Bosnian native Marica Prozo
When: Noon Tuesday
Where: 909 Fairfield Road, Gettyburg
Information: Register by calling 717-334-9171, ext. 113 or firstname.lastname@example.org.