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  • Perfesser Ivan

    Fray Ivan is an educator teaching Latin and Croatian in a classical gymnasium in Visoko, a town of some 17 000 people, close to Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The gymnasium is free for all students who wish to enroll, being a government school run by the Franciscan order, the ‘Brothers Minor’ of all living creatures. Now in his mid-40s, Fra Ivan has been with the Franciscan order for some 20 years. The school, once on the front lines of the 1990’s war between Serbs, Bosniaks and Croats, now accepts students from all three denominations – Muslim, Catholic, Orthodox Christian. “I am not for tolerance between the religions” Fra Ivan says, “I am for love”. “Tolerance means that you are merely tolerating the others’ presence.” In between grammar lessons, his students learn important life lessons as well. “Silentium est approbationem” – Silence is approval”, Fra Ivan tells his pupils. “If you see someone beating a child, or a dog, and you walk by – you are giving your approval.” A true educator in his field, Bosnian-born Fra Ivan speaks Latin, Ancient Greek, English, French and German. “My German is not so good” he demurs. He is also the librarian of the 60 000-book library at the school, many of them collected thanks to his perseverance. In addition to the library, he also curates a collection of biological specimens, including fossils and minerals, on display at the school. On our way out, we ask him if he believes