Flying on the Wings of Words

For the fourth year in a row, Banjaluka witnessed a gathering of summer readers. To become a summer reader, all you have to do is to read half an hour a day for 30 summer days in a row. Any king of reading material will do: from books, comics, and newspaper articles to magazines and recipes. This summer, the event was attended by Anastasija Babić, Iva Potkonjak, and Aleksander Špehar from Banjaluka; Ivana Šurlan, Emilija Šurlan, and Jelena Stupar from Novi Grad; Vesna Sikirič from Prijedor; and Mihaila Đurđević and Milica Radešić from Teslić.

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On Saturday, 15 October 2016, we gathered at the Inn Hotel in Banjaluka. All the summer readers received an award and a souvenir t-shirt. The project, which is led by the Ljubljana City Library, received an award for outstanding achievements in promoting youth literature and reading, presented by the Slovenian IBBY Section. We are glad that such projects, which are primarily intended for Slovenian children and youth, are also attended by students of supplementary Slovenian language courses from other countries.

Source: Ana Marjanovič

Minister Gorazd Žmavc in Argentina

Upon his arrival at Buenos Aires on 19 October 2016, Gorazd Žmavc, the Minister for Slovenians Abroad, had three meetings. Herman Zupan, the most prominent Slovenian businessman in Argentina and former Honorary Consul General in Argentina for the Republic of Slovenia, held a reception for the minister in his Interpack factory. 

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The minister discussed the possibility of improvements with Tjaša Lorbek, a Slovenian language lecturer in Buenos Aires, the Argentine capital – currently, there are approximately one hundred people enrolled in the Slovenian language course, mostly descendants of Slovenian immigrants who came to Argentina between the two world wars, and also some Slovenian language teachers who teach in Slovenian Saturday schools.

The most current topic, however, is the Triglav Slovenian Club which was established through a merging of three smaller clubs and funded by the community of Slovenian pre-war immigrants who mostly came from the Slovenian Littoral. As the members are aging, the club is facing a membership deficit and is consequently increasingly difficult to maintain.

Join the radio show: Slovenian Roots

Slovenian Roots is a biweekly show about first, second and third-generation Slovenes living abroad. We try to find out how people with Slovenian parents or grandparents feel about the country of their roots. Do they feel connected to the country at all? How? What traditions have survived? Have they visited the country of their ancestors or do they even want to? The show is done in English and previous shows can be found online.
Michael Manske is waiting for your contacts – michael.manske@rtvslo.si.

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Interview Vida Matičič: Musical Career in the Land of Tulips

Vida Matičič Malnaršič comes from Inner Carniola, namely from Rakek. She currently resides in the Netherlands where she moved to study solo singing. At the Conservatory of Music in Amsterdam, she first got a Bachelor’s degree, immediately followed by a Master’s degree. Now, she works as a freelance artist. She performs in concerts, cooperates on various projects and sings in one of the best opera choirs in the world – The Dutch National Opera Choir from Amsterdam. Her biggest fan is her grandmother Jožefa, who this year had a chance to hear Vida live at the Slovene National Theatre Opera and Ballet in Ljubljana, where Vida performed in front of the local audience. She wishes to someday return to back to her homeland but that will only be possible with sufficient job opportunities.

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You currently live in the Netherlands where you initially went to study. What convinced you to stay there? What was it like to study in the Netherlands and how do you remember your student years?

I studied classical solo singing at the Conservatory of Music in Amsterdam. After completing the bachelor’s program, I enrolled in the master’s course. My master’s thesis entitled Singing in Slovenian is interesting because it enables foreigners to sing in the Slovenian language. Studying in Amsterdam was certainly very different from studying in Slovenia due to two factors: firstly, because it was conducted in the English language and because the environment was internationally oriented and, secondly, because in Amsterdam, you have to pay a tuition fee in order to enroll in university. My bachelor’s degree studies were partly and generously supported by the Slovenian Ministry for Culture. Later on, I worked alongside my studies, which is the regular practice of all students around here.

What do you miss most from Slovenia? Would you import anything to the Netherlands and what would you like to have left behind?

I miss my family and the Slovenian nature the most. I would love to bring my whole family here. That way we could be more close together and I wouldn’t miss out on all the birthday parties and family gatherings. I would also import a hill or two that I could use as a vista to have a broader view of all the beautiful flower fields, sand beaches, and windmills – these are my favorite Dutch things. I only see them from above when I’m landing with an airplane. What I wish I could have left behind my fears and questions whether this was the right decision or not. Unless you try, however, you can never know.

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What is the life like in the Netherlands compared to life in Slovenia? Can you draw any parallels or point out the most notable differences?

Life here is faster and more planned.  There is a lot more of planning in advance whenever you want to meet someone, even if it’s just for a coffee. In Slovenia, I think, things are more spontaneous – you meet someone and you go for a cup of coffee. People here are very open, but I still find the people in Slovenia more warm and homely*. People can fulfill their dreams here if they are more on the crazy, funky, or unconventional side. The most obvious difference lies in the fact that in the Netherlands – a country twice the size of Slovenia – has 17 million inhabitants, which means the houses are smaller, there is less room, and less nature. However, this means there are many possibilities for networking.

You live abroad together with your husband who is also Slovenian. Where did you meet him and what led you to the decision for moving abroad?

We met in a then “modern” fashion, on mIRC. As I was finishing my studies in Slovenia I was persuaded by others to pursue further studies in the Netherlands. We both moved at the same time and started our new adventure. He soon found his first indefinite period employment and is very pleased with his life here.

Are you in contact with Slovenians living in the Netherlands? Do you socialize, form clubs or organize activities and gatherings? Do you prefer spending time with the locals or the people from your working environment?

In the Netherlands, Slovenians meet within the frameworks of the Friends of Slovenia association. We also have a FB group called Slovenci na Nizozemskem. I met a lot of Slovenians who live, study, or work here through these channels. I also made some close friends who mean a great deal to me. The association organizes annual events to commemorate the Slovenian Cultural Day, cooking workshops, and the traditional National Day picnic where we chat and sing over a snack and a drink.

Foto: Darja Štravs Tisu

Foto: Darja Štravs Tisu

How often do you return to Slovenia and what do you normally do here? Do you have any favorite places or activities?

I visit Slovenia three to four times a year (for Christmas, Easter, the summer holidays…). I now call it a “visit” rather than “vacation”, because it usually involves a lot of going around from house to house (and dining table to dining table) to see everyone that I haven’t seen in a while. I love going to the meadow with my father to see my mare Birta. I spend time mostly with my family and friends. We go for a ride to the seaside, the Bled Lake or any other less frequented location to enjoy the natural wonders of Slovenia.

What is your advice for the young who wish to live abroad? What was the hardest part of your experience and would you go down that same road again?

I would advise the youth not to be afraid of life abroad. Of course, it is hard because you are away from your relatives, friends, customs, food, and everything else you know well. Eventually, however, you make friends abroad, get used to the different cuisine and – most importantly – broaden your horizons and become an independent person. You can always go back home and that’s the wonder of living abroad.

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A Call for Life-and-Work Accommodation in Ljubljana

In accordance with their program, the Rudi Šeligo Foundation is publishing a call for the co-financing of accommodation in a residence situated in Ljubljana.

The residence is located in the center of Ljubljana, in the famous Kozolec building which was designed by architect Edo Mihevc and represents one of the most important 20th century architectural objects in Slovenia. The main reason behind its construction remains unknown to this date.

The intended use of the residence was enabled by its founder, architect Aleš Šeligo.

The residence accommodation is intended for Slovenian emigrants and their descendants who have been forced to leave their homeland due to economic, political or other reasons and who have led a quality art career, be it amateur or professional.

The accommodation is possible between 1 October 2016 and 31 March 2017 and lasts for a minimum of two weeks. Six people can be accommodated at the same time and the costs of living are co-financed by the Rudi Šeligo Foundation.

While living in the residence, the selected candidates or groups must develop a certain artistic project that will – with its content – somehow present the Slovenian culture and art as one of their basic links to the homeland.

Additional information about the call and the submission of applications at the foundation’s e-mail address: info@rudiseligo.si. Applications will be possible until all the dates are taken.

Slovenia declared world’s first green country

Ljubljana – Slovenia has become the world’s first country to be declared a green destination, based on an assessment by the Netherlands-based organisation Green Destinations which established 96%-compliance across 100 criteria. The title was presented at a ceremony at Ljubljana Castle on Tuesday September 27 as part of the two-day Global Green Destinations Day conference, along with the declaration of the world’s Top 100 Sustainable Destinations, including Ljubljana.

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Green Destinations founder Albert Salman explained that the organisation’s representatives had interviews with the Slovenian Tourist Board (STO), people from different ministries, experts and professors, who gave them satisfactory answers to their questions regarding 100 criteria. “The compliance is 96%.”

Describing Slovenia as a “wonderful place”, Salman called on Slovenians to be “proud of your country and make sure together that your local place in Slovenia is also going to be proud five years from now of what it has achieved in keeping its character and its green, clean, authentic offer for travellers”.

Welcoming the title, Eva Štravs Podlogar, a state secretary at the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology, said that the development of sustainable tourism was a key commitment in the development strategy for 2012-2016 and that she was glad the direction proved the right one.

“Slovenia is becoming known in the international tourism community as a small country which is taking big steps in sustainable tourism,” said STO director Maja Pak, pointing to the STO’s Green Scheme of Slovenian Tourism, which promotes the preservation of the environment and local authenticity and higher quality of life.

Ljubljana has been picked as the host of this year’s Global Green Destinations Day due to its stint as the European Green Capital this year. Ljubljana was also declared one of the Top 100 Sustainable Destinations today, having received the title already in 2014.

The selected destinations received Quality Coast, Quality Destinations and Slovenia Green certificates. They are located in 46 countries. Apart from Slovenia, the biggest number of destinations on the list come from the Netherlands, Croatia, Portugal, Canada, Chile, China, Spain and the UK.

Apart from Ljubljana, the list also includes Slovenia Green Destinations Nova Gorica, Brda, Kranjska Gora, Maribor, Ptuj, Slovenj Gradec, Bela Krajina and Velenje.

With three new accommodation providers wining Slovenia Green Accommodation certificate: Hostel Celica, Hotel Jožef and Rooms with a story Pr’Gavedarjo, the Green Scheme of Slovenian tourism now includes 17 destinations and ten providers.

The Global Green Destinations Day conference, which opened today to coincide with World Tourism Day, brings together 350 experts and players in the field of sustainable tourism from Europe and further afield, including East Timor, Botswana, Rwanda, Indonesia, South Africa and the US.

On the opening day, the participants agreed that if green tourism may have been considered as above-standard in the past, today it was something expected by tourists. These want to visit places which are green, quiet, clean, authentic, said Salman. Source. STA

Slovenia in The Hague

On Saturday, 3 September 2016, the visitors of the fourth Embassy Festival held in The Hague had a chance to experience different cultures from all over the world, all over the course of one afternoon. Many visitors were drawn to the Slovenian Pavilion by the frisky performance of the Nizozemska ensemble. This year, they could once again try out Slovenian wine, which can also be found at quite a few other locations across Benelux. Last year, the focus of the Slovenian presentation was on beekeeping, while it was all about lacemaking this year. Passers-by could witness the art of lacemaking in person.

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The majority of questions asked were about the possibilities of visiting Slovenia. The Embassy’s organizing team led by Ambassador Kirn was once again assisted by the members of the local Friends of Slovenia association. The piles of brochures had to be updated with additional information constantly and some visitors wanted to be shown where Slovenia is on the map. Each year, however, the number of people who already know our homeland rises and, consequently, the questions we are asked are increasingly detailed.
Aside from enabling us to present Slovenia, which we do quite successfully, the already traditional Embassy Festival is also a great opportunity for the local compatriots, who can help with informing or gather for either a chat about their experiences or to make new contacts among the members of the Slovenian community – all of this with Slovenian refreshments. Also always keen to visit us are “our own” Netherlanders. The musicians of Nizozemska are all Dutch; however, after they paid a visit to Slovenia, they immediately fell in love not just with our natural wonders and the kindness of our people, but also with our folk music. They’ve performed at many Slovenian events across Benelux but have never had an audience as big as the one in The Hague!
Source: Metka Dijkstra-Murko

Reunification of Primorsko with Slovenia celebrated

Slovenia will observe on Thursday the reunification of the western region of Primorsko with Slovenia 69 years ago. Primorsko Reunification Day has been a national holiday since 2006, but it is not a bank holiday.

Koper Proslava ob obletnici prikljucitve Primorske k maticni domovini. Foto: Stanko Gruden/STA

Koper Proslava ob obletnici prikljucitve Primorske k maticni domovini. Foto: Stanko Gruden/STA

Slovenia regained the region under the Paris Peace Treaty, which took effect in the night from 15 to 16 September 1947.

In line with the treaty, Italy returned to Yugoslavia the lands annexed after WWI, including around 4,000 sq. kilometres of what is now the western Slovenian region of Primorsko.

The treaty reunited the people of Primorsko with the rest of Slovenians as part of Yugoslavia, but an estimated 140,000 Slovenians remained outside the borders of the present-day Slovenia.

The final course of the border between Yugoslavia and Italy was determined after marathon negotiations on 10 November 1975 with the Treaty of Osimo.

The main ceremony marking Primorsko Reunification Day will be held in Postojna on Saturday. It will be attended by President Borut Pahor and addressed by literary historian Matjaž Kmecl and historian Borut Klabjan.

The cultural programme will feature the wind quintet of the Slovenian Armed Forces, the Pinko Tomažič Partisan Choir from Italy’s Trieste and the Postojna Ballet Association, among others.

The municipality of Postojna will also organise a number of accompanying events and guided tours.

To mark Primorsko Reunification Day, the Presidential Palace will hold an open day today, and the honorary guard of the Slovenian Armed Forces will be lined up in front of the building, as envisaged for every national holiday. Source: STA

Avsenik brothers’ musical oeuvre published in new book

A year after the death of legendary accordion player and composer Slavko Avsenik (1929-2015), a book documenting the musical oeuvre of both founders of the legendary Slovenian oompah music group Avsenik Brothers Ensemble, Slavko Avsenik and his brother Vilko, has been launched.

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Photo: Tinkara Zupan/STA

Golden Sounds was written and edited by Aleksi Jercog, a long-time fan of their music, and published by the Avsenik Publishing House.

Written in Slovenian and German, the ensemble’s 400-page biography consists of four parts, the first describing the two brothers’ albums and records, the second cataloguing their songs, followed by their history and bibliography.

The Avsenik family and collectors of Avsenik music also took part in the editing of the book.

“This was a large project, as certain records still needed to be found and catalogued correctly,” the Avsenik – Hohner Gallery told the STA.

The idea for the project was conceived three years ago, during a celebration of the 60th anniversary of the Avseniks’ music.

“The book’s publishing was also motivated by several questions about the records, their content, the ensemble and other details raised by fans and our visitors,” said Brigita Avsenik, Slavko Avsenik’s widow and director of the Avsenik – Hohner gallery.

“We wanted the book to fill this gap and to contain refined and up-to-date information on the Avseniks’ music from 1953 until today,” she said.

The author of the book Jercog believes that the Avseniks’ music is a treasure, the importance of which we sometimes do not understand completely.

“It is a treasure that is long-lasting, undying and eternal and will outlive other fashions, trends, genres,” he said.

The Avsenik Brothers Ensemble was established in 1953 by Slavko and Vilko Avsenik, who have produced nearly 1,000 songs in Slovenia and Germany.

The ensemble has sold over 30 million records altogether and is an inspiration to many, as there are reportedly some 10,000 bands playing their style of music.

Their most popular song is a polka entitled “Na Golici” or “Trompetenecho” in German and “Trumpet Echo” in English.

This piece of music has been covered more than 600 times and is believed to be the most played instrumental song in the world.

Slavko Avsenik died last July at the age of 85. Born in in Begunje na Gorenjskem, close to Lake Bled, he was an internationally acclaimed accordion player and composer, who left behind a rich legacy of oompah music. Source: STA