This writing competition was just what fourth-year medical student Dino Gacevic (21) was looking for. His degree programme is dominated by ‘hard facts’ and doesn’t offer him much in the way of creative outlets. In fact, that’s why he took a gap year this academic year. The avid pianist (‘I play an hour every day’) applied to the conservatoire but failed to get in. He went on to study Dutch language and literature in Utrecht, but stopped half-way through.

Stimulate people with art

In the first years of his programme, Dino looked for ways to combine his love of music with his medical studies. In his second year, he set up Muziek in de Zorg (MInDZ, ‘Music in Care’) with close friend and fellow medical student Teun Tramper. Gacevic also organised a conference about the impact of music in the context of healthcare. “After that, we founded Apollo Music,” says Dino. The basic idea was to give lessons about the educational aspects of music.

“That didn’t work out, unfortunately. Which is a shame, because I would like to stimulate people and surround them with art. A wide range of great geniuses also engaged in art. Einstein was a musician. I think that says something. Art activates a region in your brain that contributes to empathy and insight.”


Dino’s winning story centres on the town where his roots lie: Gusinje in Montenegro. “Gusinje has a very special culture, in which ancient, traditional and modern philosophies of life exist side by side,” explains Dino. His approach greatly appealed to the jury: “The idea of interweaving the narrative with music, of structuring the protagonist’s road trip to Montenegro via music by the composer Olivier Messiaen, is an interesting premise.” The Rotterdam jury consisted of literary scholar Frans-Willem Korsten, lecturer and poet Çağlar Köseoğlu and writer and investigative reporter Emy Koopman. They lauded Dino for his daring, ambition and intelligence.

Literary agency Sebes & Bisseling will be organising a workshop for the winners selected by the different universities and universities of applied sciences. This gives the student authors a chance to hone their entries to perfection. The winner of the national contest will be announced before the summer. He or she will be supported by Sebes & Bisseling in getting the book published.

Thanks to his gap year, Dino has ample time to work on his entry. He is currently employed as a GP’s assistant via a temp agency. This also allows him to prepare for working in rotation.