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 Monday, August 14, 2017, 9:41 am EDT

My BECA experience began in April of this year, when I was scrolling through a job database provided by my university, simply out of boredom. I stumbled across a listing for the BECA Summer Camp, and immediately emailed the program asking for further details. What I read about the program’s mission and vision led me to apply to be a counselor the next day. Suddenly, I was caught in a whirlwind of activity; creating my second-interview lesson plan and then accepting my offer to participate in the program.

I had set expectations for myself of what the camp would be like, and every one of them was surpassed. Once I landed in San Pedro Sula, I met a fellow counselor in the customs line. There were mutual feelings of apprehension, excitement, and wonder; primarily regarding how well the other person spoke Spanish. I did not realize in that moment that I would be making a friend for life, nor did I realize that this was the first step towards an amazing journey.

Upon exiting the airport, I entered yet another whirlwind of activities: meeting fellow counselors from around the world, moving into the Orange House, and getting to roam the streets of Cofradia with a person I was suddenly sharing a bathroom with. I could feel myself almost immediately falling in love with the culture, the people, and the city itself. The citizens of Cofradia are more than willing to exchange a quick hello, and the children, even if they do not attend a BECA school, go out of their way to wave hello. I am sure you can anticipate what happened next, a whirlwind of planning for camp.

A theme was determined, co-teachers were assigned, and grades were selected. I had the immense pleasure of working with the 5th/6th graders with Miss Kelly. The first day, as is mandatory, was horrifying yet thrilling. The student’s hugged me, they glared at me, they screamed “Mister,” and they demanded we play soccer every twenty minutes. However, they also held discussions in English, they went out of their way to express interest in classroom activities, and they showed an immense desire to grow and be more than society expects of them.

After waking up every day for three weeks excited to see my students, because suddenly I felt I belonged to them and them to me, the last day was upon us. I had never felt sadness, happiness, heartbreak, and desire to do more all at the same time. However, it was made easier with the news that I would be back. That’s correct, I had the joy of sharing with my students, and the camp as a whole, that I would be returning to Cofradia in January to work as a full-year teacher!

After committing so much of who I am to these students, I knew I would not be able to walk away from this camp without returning to aid in the incredible work that BECA does. I want to experience Elkin finessing his artistic abilities, I want to watch Alba show the boys how soccer is really played, and I want to be able to say “yes” every time Jahir asks if he can collect the markers from the other students. I know that I can give them more, and I also know they have more to teach me. I am grateful for every amazing opportunity I had during camp, and cannot wait to have many more come January.