YES Programs



December 2014 YES Student of the Month: Nadina Imamovic

Nadina 2014 15 500

The YES December Student of the Month, Nadina Imamovic, found a poignant way to share her country’s past with her American host community. The lovely and haunting song that she co-wrote with her host father, “Cold Christmas,” evokes the sadness and violence that permeated Bosnia-Herzegovina during the 1990s conflict dividing Muslims, Serbs and Croats. Nadina, born in 1996, just months after the war’s end, performed the song at a December concert with the Winton Woods High School Choir in Cincinnati, OH.

The song captures a child’s wartime Christmas in a land divided by faiths, and, by extension, reminds listeners of the strife afflicting many communities around the world, as Choir Director Elizabeth Hannah suggested in her introduction to Nadina’s performance. 

            Winter covers all the land; the wind-blown snow is cold       

            Broken windows fail to keep the cold outside at bay  
            The sun lies low upon the hills and lights the day in grey      
            Children huddle underground as the war unfolds


Blessed be the children when their trust in us has failed        
Blessed be the frozen land that waits now for the spring        
Blessed be the silence as the war bells stop their ringing       
Blessed be the sacrificed whose bodies now are veiled          

Nadina is living her year in the United States to the fullest, developing her talents and enjoying school and life with her host family. Besides singing and playing the piano, she has recently taken up running and cycling. Nadina enjoys volunteering and recently served as a team captain in an annual charity event called the Vision Walk, hosted by the Foundation Fighting Blindness. At Winton Woods, Nadina has made numerous friends and was pleased to find her classmates so accepting of international students. Her teachers praise her positive and fearless attitude, her academic achievement, and her ability to integrate into the school. Nadina has a warm relationship with her host parents and helps at home with chores, including meal preparation and clean-up.  Her host parents, Paul and Marianne Denning, wrote, “Nadina far exceeds our expectations in her level of effort, curiosity about our culture, and her willingness to try anything requested of her. The stories she tells about her life make us laugh, cry, and then laugh again.”

Because Nadina is blind, she has a guide dog named Roxie that she has trained to attend school with her, to find doors, negotiate stairs, and even identify the host family’s car in a parking lot.  Given that in Bosnia and Herzegovina “dogs are feared because they are considered wild, unclean, and aggressive,” according to Nadina, it is remarkable that she has made a dog her friend and support resource. Of this she said, “It has been very rewarding. I have changed Roxie’s life, and she has changed mine.” In addition to training her guide dog and all her school activities, Nadina receives weekly orientation and mobility instruction, attends classes on teaching for the visually impaired and learns adaptive software on her laptop.

Nadina’s song ends with a message of peace and love for one’s country. We congratulate Nadina and would like to share her holiday message with all of you.

You can view a video of the concert. The introduction to “Cold Christmas” begins at the 23:50 mark.