Interview done by Antoaneta Ivanova
1. In the past three years you lived in several different countries working as an intern, volunteer and student. Where is Nina Pavlovska today, where does she work and live?
Even though I never planned, today I am in Bangalore, in the incredible India, experiencing life and work in a totally different environment from what I am used to. Here, I am finishing my IDEX fellowship working for an affordable private school that serves the lower-income families in the suburbs of this fast-developing city/country. The IDEX fellowship places young professionals around India to get a real-life experience of working in variety of organizations which work in the development field using social entrepreneurship tools to make a sustainable change. During my work here I implemented a research for my master thesis which was focused on the low-cost private education in India and also work on the capacity building of the school where I am placed. It has been an immense learning experience which I would recommend to all of those curious and open enough to put themselves in an environment that will challenge their way of thinking, working and living in every possible aspect. Even after eight months living in India, still shocks and surprises can make any common day here an extraordinary one that won’t leave you the same as you were before. For more stories of my adventures in India feel free to visit my blog
2. You graduated in Macedonia, but for the past several years you have been living abroad. What keeps you motivated to change your life and destination of living, even the work you are doing?
I am a passionate globe-trotter, as I believe that the world is out there to be experienced. I began traveling as I was very young and was always fascinated by the diversity of people finding that it is only when I am facing different people and cultures that I become aware of whom I am and challenge my beliefs, attitudes and values. The diversity of this world is a beautiful and enriching experience that can be a great source of knowledge and life wisdom. On the other hand, the exposure to different lifestyles, cultures and working environments have given me the opportunity to recognize not only these differences but also the traits that make us human, both the positive and negative ones, such as love, kindness, compassion, but also greed, corruption, injustice etc. For one to get to know the local cultural values and knowledge of a community, a touristic visit may not be enough. Living in a different country allows you to learn much more not only about the others that surround you, but about yourself too. How do I react to this culture and value system, how do I manage in this working or communication style etc. – all of that can be a great process of self discovery and personal mastery. That’s why my journey continues.
3. You are coming back to Macedonia often, but not only to see your family, but because you are still active in the civil society sector. Where does Nina transfer her knowledge and experience from abroad?
Macedonia is where I started my social activism and youth work and where I learned my basics. I am one of the founders and former president of the civil society organization Youth Can which started about 4 years ago with only five extraordinary people, and today is a well established youth organization which counts over 350 members from all over the country. I strongly believe in the potential of the young people in Macedonia. I am thankful to all of those who have contributed to make this happen. However, not being physically present in the country does limit my possibility to join and help these people in their missions. Never the less, when we have a chance to fundraise or work for a project, I am happy to help with sharing my experience, my ideas, knowledge or networks and contacts. There are many innovative projects I have learned about through my experience abroad that have high potential to be put in practice in Macedonia and help the development of the country. Through Youth Can, as well as another great organization I am involved with called Lucca Leadership Macedonia – we try to realize some of them.
Nowadays, I am very proud to witness that the youth organizations in Macedonia organize themselves to set up a common platform that will represent the voice of the youth in the country. I am grateful to all of the people that put their honest efforts to contribute towards the Macedonian society and I feel ready to support them as much as I can, where ever I am.
4. How do you manage to find all the information about scholarships/fellowships abroad, how long do you search before you succeed to find one?
Simply, I just realize the value of being informed today can really change your life. And in fact, Mladiinfo has recognized this value and now it is offering to the young people all over the world (That’s why I love Mladiinfo!). To the ones complaining that there are no opportunities, I have to tell you guys, you may be wrong. There are many of them ‘out there’, you just need to spend more time and effort in looking, connecting and applying, trying and failing (many times) and finally succeeding (sometimes, usually the right times). Of course the knowledge of l languages (especially English) and access to internet are preconditions to be informed about most of the scholarships/fellowships/internships in today’s world.
Therefore it is not easy, but also not impossible. From my experience, I feel that scholarships/fellowships are granted to people who are proactive, initiative, creative and really committed to what they love doing/working/studying. That is shown by the extra volunteer/paid activities that a young person does outside their regular studies. That extracurricular experience is an indicator how you differ from the rest and shows what are you truly passionate about. My advice is (a) to be smart in your selection of scholarship/fellowship/internship so that it matches what you love, (b) to be persistent and learn from the failures – admit your mistakes and plan what you need to do next time and (c) be confident that you will make it, and eventually you will when the right opportunity in the right time comes.
Thanks to my efforts in searching for this information, today I am very well connected in variety of networks, hooked on many mailing lists, newsletters, websites, blogs and social media platforms that help me be better informed about the opportunities and latest developments in the field of social service. Of course this is an ongoing life-long process that changes as you grow professionally.
5. You worked for an organization in Amsterdam that pushes back the spread of HIV/AIDS, then you coordinated the youth department of an international network fighting mafia and organized crime in Italy and today you are in India as a fellow in the field of social entrepreneurship. Which position did you find most fulfilling and where did you truly found yourself?
All of the job postings have been unique experience and have impacted me in a different way. However, though may seem as different fields of work, they all share a thread of being related to a social cause, youth and empowerment. That is why all of them have been fulfilling, because I was able to connect these three concepts to my work and make it meaningful. So my mission continues in the same direction, helping in serving young people’s needs as to empower them to make a difference. Those needs can be related to their freedom of expression, ability to voice their opinion and act, to practice their rights, to have access to information, education and services etc. Whatever it is, that can be put in that particular context, I will be eager to help. Young people, wherever you are, I am at your service!
6. What is your next destination? What will you be doing there?
I am very excited for the upcoming chapter of my life. After completing my fellowship here in India, next would be going back to my favorite city – Amsterdam, Netherlands, where I will go back to work for dance4life in the Regional Programme Managers team supporting the dance4life projects in several countries around the world.
7. Do you think some people are born world citizens? Do you feel like one of them?
Definitely. I have met such people and they have inspired me to be who I am now. Thankful that they are open and able to understand, to share and care, and to be for the ones in need there.