TESSA ADZEMOVIĆ graduated with a B.A. from the UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN in 2013. She majored in French and minored in Biochemistry. We decided to ask her a few questions about her study-abroad experiences.
Where are you currently working?:
“Bridging Mostar Youth” dance and reconciliation project in Mostar, Bosnia
What do you hope to achieve with/in it?
The goal of this project was to assess and help address the needs of at-risk populations in Mostar, Bosnia. Local development, engagement, and advancement were evaluated over a six-month period. The research was applied to create a dynamic and diverse dance program for students in Mostar, Bosnia. A codified and universal curriculum was developed for use in other dance and reconciliation projects.
How did you end up doing this project (feel free to mention the cultural heritage connection)?
This project is the fortunate apogee of my entire life’s work: my education, my art, and my identity. My Bosnian identity, my love for dance, my community involvement, and my experiences working with children drove me to create a dance program that will bridge the divide between the polarized communities in Mostar, Bosnia. My Bosnian heritage has allowed me to empathize with the community with which I plan to work, and my Bosnian fluency has allowed me to communicate effectively.
What were some of the factors that determined your decision to apply to the University of Michigan?
I grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan. My elementary school, middle school, high school, and university were within a four-mile radius of each other. I felt a fierce pride for the institution both for its academic and research qualifications.
During which stage of your education did you most need an advisor or a mentor to help guide you?
I felt most lost in between my first two years of colleges. Many students had already picked their majors and had established trajectories, whereas I was still searching. I was fearful that it would take me years to find out what I wanted to do.
When applying for college, was there something besides your standardized test scores and your GPA (grade point average) that you think set you apart from the rest of the applicant pool?
Absolutely. Colleges are looking for well-rounded individuals. What I brought was a classical ballet background, a rich knowledge of my Bosnian heritage, and an academic fervor for the arts and sciences.
Presuming that you’ve had enough time to keenly observe the local community where you are currently working, which areas of study would you recommend local students to seriously consider pursuing, especially if they intend on studying abroad?
Admittedly, after being in Mostar and Sarajevo, Bosnia for extended amounts of time, what I have observed is that Bosnia and Hercegovina needs passionate individuals in all spheres. There’s room for healthcare providers, political activists, artists, economists, etc. My biggest advice would be do to what you love- there will inevitably be room for you in BiH
Many students are now deeply considering moving abroad to pursue their degrees or find work in economies that are more stable than those of their home countries. What are your thoughts on this?
I think it’s important to have a diverse array of experiences, both in one’s home country and abroad. It is definitely important to study and work abroad, but remember to give back to the communities that need it the most.
What makes you proud to be a University of Michigan Wolverine (UM mascot) living and working in Mostar, Bosnia?
My time at the University of Michigan taught me to open-minded and non-judgmental. Working in a post-conflict country, these two traits have served me more than any others. My interactions in Bosnia have been enriched by my University of Michigan education.