Tell us a little bit about yourself, the program that brought you to the U.S. and to Olivewood Gardens.
My name is Danira Šabić, and I am a certified Montessori teacher, coming from Bosnia and Herzegovina. I have been working with children for the past 15 years, started in London at the age of 18 and since then have worked in numerous countries and continents – as a nanny, a nanny mentor and finally a Montessori teacher. Seven years ago, I decided to merge my two passions together and started Danni’s Little Kitchen – a kid’s cooking school, based on the Montessori principles of education, with an important aim – to help children learn about healthy food and cooking in a nurturing, fun and educational environment.
During the last couple of years, what was initially supposed to be a hobby, ended up being my life’s calling. I went from cooking with children to cooking with adults, changing menus in schools, becoming a recipe developer for children suffering from allergies and stating a non-government organization to help support children from economically struggling families.
My work was recognized by the YTILI (Young Transatlantic Innovation Leaders Initiative) Program funded and organized by the State Department and World Chicago. The program selects one to two entrepreneurs from each country in Europe and brings them to the U.S. for a 5-week exchange program. I was selected both last year and this year and I am incredibly happy for the opportunity to work with Olivewood Gardens.
Since your fellowship is a knowledge exchange fellowship, what or how have you contributed to our programs or to our meetings?
While observing the Children’s classes, I tried to give my insight and suggest ways of working that I assumed might be beneficial for both the educator and the children. Sharing recipes and suggesting more nutritional substitutes in recipes Olivewood was already using, either for Chefcitos, Kitchenistas, or Field Trip programs. I highly enjoyed my presentation on benefits of eating the rainbow and I am grateful to the Kitchenistas for a chance to share my knowledge with participants of Cooking for Salud Generation #26.
Have you learned any new skills from Olivewood programs?
I believe my biggest takeaway from my time here will be the importance of giving the community an opportunity to be a part of the projects and involved in the positive change.
What have you enjoyed most during your time at Olivewood?
Other than the most beautiful nature, I enjoyed meeting and spending time with the people of Olivewood. The Kitchenistas Program is incredibly inspiring and I hope this is something we can bring to my country as well.
If you could share with the world one thing you hope to accomplish individually or as a community in the future – what would it be?
Help children receive proper nutrition both in schools and at home. Proper nutrition plays a major role in our physical development but also our mental health and it is of grave importance to instill healthy eating and lifestyle habits from a very young age.
I would like to mention how grateful I am for the experience and I will forever treasure the days I spent at Olivewood surrounded by inspiring people working hard on making the world a better place and helping the younger generation set good grounds for a better and healthier future.
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