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“Thirsty for freedom and inclusiveness”. Meet Hanan Kovacevic, our newest member of the team

7 October 2021

Hanan Kovacevic, from Bosnia and Hercegovina, is the newest member of the WBF Team. “I was privileged enough that in my short life span I had the opportunity to travel and live in different countries, but still I am a Balkan girl that understands and respects the values of melting pot cultures in the region”, she says when we ask her to describe herself. With her vivid optimism and overflowing energy, Hanan has become a very important member of the WBF, and for sure, the one to be around when you need to cheer up. “I enjoy Macedonian music, I admire rivers and mountains of Montenegro, sea, and cuisine of Albania, sports successes of Serbia and dignity of Kosovars. But most of all I am a proud Bosnian that treasures unique historical experience, thirst for freedom and inclusiveness”.

You joined WBF as an intern during the pandemic. How was that experience?

Joining WBF internship program in May 2021 was a fulfilling experience in many ways. Firstly, I was excited to finally get out of the house after being in lockdown for almost a year. Secondly, it was a very educational experience where I had an opportunity to meet amazing team members and learn about WBF’s project cycle management.

After your internship, you were selected for full-time employment. What started as an engaging experience abroad now is a full job for you. How do you find yourself in a team of multinationals in a strange city?

Spending time with the team during my internship I have quickly come to realize that the team values align with mine and that I could see myself working in such an environment. Once I have received the offer for a full-time job, I was excited to come back and embark on this journey. Tirana is a great discovery to me, and I enjoy my life here completely.

Tell us a joke that you make and a joke that you avoid when in the company of everybody else from the region.

We Bosnians are not afraid to make jokes about ourselves as it is one of the most powerful coping mechanisms that serve almost as a therapy session. Every new situation whether it is political or social in a very short time gets a new joke and nobody knows who the anonymous author behind it is but they are so powerful and creative.

You were born shortly after the War in Bosnia. You live now in times of peace, where a growing collaboration is happening around the region. What do you see our region after 10 or 20 years?

Balkan is not yet settled, we need to have a great effort in order to make it sustainable in peace and stability. Only peaceful Balkan provides domain for development and prosperity. We all faced the same problems, I believe that synergy of joint effort can help us to overcome those challenges. In ten years, Balkans could be a place of dynamic interaction that harvests benefit of the regional cooperation.

And where do you see yourself, professionally, in your future?

I see myself actively working towards better societies in the region. 2020 health crisis has taught me that any concrete plan is not possible to attain for shorter run yet alone in the longer run. We are living in a post-normal times, where almost everything is complex and interconnected, global in nature and subject to rapid changes. We must learn how to navigate in these times and to be adaptable to maximize our well-being.

WBF is a unique cooperation mechanism established by the Contracting Partners of WB6 to support a growing collaboration network in the region. What is your favourite project from the last three calls?

WBF has a large pool of very interesting projects from education to culture and sustainable issues addressed. One of the recent projects that intrigued my special interest was ‘Trcat’ project from Macedonia which once again helped us understand how sports bring people together. I am eager to see all the amazing projects incoming for our 4th call. I hope to see more projects that involve free-flow conversations in the region.

A tricky question. WBF has financed dozens of projects, thousands of stakeholders, but with relatively small sums. Do you think a sum of 5-10 or even 15.000 Euro can really make a difference?

The philosophy behind the Western Balkans Fund is to have an active interaction between the region, creating people to people links. With this in mind, the number of projects and stakeholders that WBF has supported is greatly influencing the shift in conversation in the Balkans. The budget itself is limited but we are at the mere beginning.

What is the first word that comes to your mind when you think about the WBF?

Cooperation

Thank you, Hanan Kovacevic