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9 July 2021

turning restlessness into selflessness

Ivana is one of those people who look like they are always in motion, even when they are static. In a video she submitted to us as part of the selections, she strolls through Skopje’s city park, snoops around the old bazaar, and poses next to a statue. As I got to know her (a little) better, I found the theme of her video incredibly appropriate: Ivana is someone who never stops exploring.

Is there something you wish you’d done differently during the second round?, we asked Ivana at her final-round interview.

Well, I sometimes felt like my mind was racing my thoughts, so I’m trying to improve this now, she responded. 

Noooo, I wanted to scream at the screen. Why would she want to get rid of a trait others can only dream of having? It is exactly her restlessness, among other things, that makes Ivana special, even if she is not aware of it. After all, how else could she come up with a metaphor as beautiful as “the mind racing one’s thoughts” off the top of her head?

Often, Ivana looks like she operates on a different time scale – one where there are more than 24 hours in a day. Sometime in May, I wasn’t sure if it was a good idea to meet up before her end-of-year exams. But she was quick to laugh off my concern: it turned out she was already volunteering at a film festival that week, so an extra few hours wouldn’t make much of a difference. It also turned out she had taken the time to read up on UWC Mostar’s famous alumni, go through the bios of the members of our National Committee, and attend our parents’ meeting, which was intended for… well, parents. 

As you can tell by now, Ivana lives and breathes UWC before even setting foot on the Mostar campus. While some of our students haven’t even spoken to their second years yet, Ivana is already making plans about buying a fridge with Vesna (I think this was a joke, but with Ivana, you can never be sure). The first thing she told us in her final-round interview was that she was reading a novel in Serbian, so I guess we’re sending her to the right college. Once there, Ivana is thinking of focusing on English language and literature, visual arts, and global politics.

Ok, so, remember that video I mentioned at the start? The prompt for it was “this is me”, yet Ivana’s video was about – Skopje. Kind of a weird choice for an application to study abroad, I thought. But three minutes later, I realized I’d just watched the best of over 50 such videos I’d had the chance to see over the years. I did wonder, however, if Ivana was worried we might interpret her video as a potential red flag for homelessness.
Of course, she shouldn’t have been, because the video isn’t really about Skopje, or any specific place. It’s about that recurring theme of Ivana being in constant motion. Remarkably for a “this is me” video, the camera rarely closes up on Ivana. Coming from someone with such a strong artistic affinity as Ivana, I’m sure this was an intentional choice. As she walks in and out of a dozen of beautiful shots scattered around Skopje, she leaves her mark on each of them. The message is that Ivana is no more – or indeed, no less – than the sum of the places she visits and the things she does for other people.

Indeed, her selflessness seems to know no limits. For example, when asked at the end of her interview if she had any questions for us, the only thing she wanted to know was if she can join the National Committee after graduation. Awww, Ivana, you’re too much!

By the way, Ivana’s “this is me” video is accompanied by Nina Spirova’s song, “Tell me about Skopje”. Тhere is a line in the song that reads: “You’re the happiest at home”. We just can’t wait for Ivana to turn this motto on its head and make the world her home. First stop: UWC.


Kristijan Fidanovski, June 2021