Nemanja Demic

Nemanja is a senior at Northern Arizona University in the beautiful city of Flagstaff, Arizona, where he is currently pursuing a B.A. in Political Science with a minor in International Relations. During his time at NAU, Nemanja has served as a congressional intern to former Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick; as well as served as the legal intern for Griffin and Stevens Law. More so, Nemanja has spent the past three years as a Peer Instructor, teaching a transition-to-college course for first year students. Nemanja graduates in December 2017.

Outside of NAU, and the Flagstaff community, Nemanja is passionate about traveling and immersing himself in different cultures. In the Spring of 2016, Nemanja studied abroad in Perth, Australia, where he studied American and Southeast Asian politics. While in Perth, Nemanja volunteered with the Australian Indigenous Mentor Experience; a program dedicated to closing the educational attainment gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth.

Nemanja’s passion lies in aiding displaced and marginalized peoples. From AIME, to reviewing grant applications for LGBTQ+ youth grants through the Arizona Community Foundation, Nemanja hopes every action he takes leaves a positive impact on the community he works with. Nemanja’s passion comes from having entered the United States as a refugee at the age of five, and facing harsh injustices placed upon his family. He hopes to one day assist refugees, much like himself, who simply need a motivational hand to guide them through a new, and shocking, reality. Nemanja had a blast working with the BECA Summer Camp team from the summer of 2017 and looks forward to being back in Honduras with a new group of amazing volunteers, and the same incredible students.

Posted on Friday, August 3, 2018, 12:00 am EDT

From Cofradia to Chicago

You know that excited feeling you get when you are baking cookies, and cannot wait to see what they look like? You know that opening the oven door is not the best route of action, but you just cannot help but do it. So, you go ahead and open the door and get hit in the face with 375 degrees of chocolate smelling heat. Your glasses may fog up a bit, but it’s okay because it smells great. Once you can see again, you see something amazingly delicious baking in front of you and you just cannot wait to taste them.

Stepping off the plane in San Pedro Sula for the first time was a little bit like opening that oven door. Yes, the blast of heat in the face is the exact same, although it does not smell like chocolate. The sun is so bright that you are temporarily blinded, but your excitement builds none the less. Finally, when you get your first view of lush green mountain and blue skies you know you made the right decision and cannot wait to see what’s next.

Working with summer camp, and then returning to work as the first-grade teacher at SJBS, were two of the most impactful decisions I have ever made. Camp was fun, thrilling, and a constant adventure. It left me loving the streets of Cofradia, taught me to immediately place a smile on my face when I hear the word “Mister,” and instilled in me a passion for education. Leaving Honduras to finish my last semester of undergrad was hard but was made easier knowing that the option to return was on the table.

When I decided that I would be returning, I knew that leaving after six months of getting to know the community, learning to love my students, and developing as a teacher would be harder than leaving after three weeks of camp. I left many of the items I brought down with me in our living accommodation or with the school, but my luggage hardly weighed less. With knick-knacks from every student, recuerdos from their parents, and so on, I was coming home with a little bit of Honduras.

Now, as I sit in my new, Chicago apartment, I am preparing for the next adventure, one that I would not have been able to pursue had it not been for SJBS, and BECA. I will be working with another not-for-profit organization in the education sector and I know I can succeed because of the tools SJBS has left me with.

Although my future students may not jump on me as often or run down the sidewalk in the town center to give me a massive hug, they too will have the passion to learn. From math and science to English, SJBS has taught me to make lessons enjoyable, student-centered, and impactful. Most importantly, I know that once I start to miss soccer games on the cancha a little too much, I can always return to Honduras for a quick visit filled with baleadas and bucket showers.