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E-magazine | April 2018


Slovenians around the world are our opportunity CULTURE

Minority theatres discuss importance of art NEWS

Minister Žmavc receives Nobel Prize laureate of Slovenian descent Duncan Haldane 1










Moja Slovenija



The Office of the Republic of Slovenia for Slovenians Abroad


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Marjan Cukrov




Minority theatres discuss importance of art

Five European minority theatres, including the Slovenian Permanent Theatre in Trieste and the Italian Drama from Rijeka, Croatia, have joined forces for a production of Luigi Pirandello's Giants of the Mountain. The performance, in which five languages are spoken because actors are of various nationalities, was produced and premiered in Rijeka and then travelled to Trieste. Now it will embark on a long journey through theatres all the way to Romania. The project has been backed by the EU's Creative Europe programme. We are not aware enough that minorities are a test of democracy, said Paolo Magelli, the director of Pirandello's Giants of the Mountain, in Trieste. Magelli conceived the unusual project with Oliver Frljič, a theatre director known for pushing the painful buttons of contemporary society. Magelli brought together a group of minority theatres which are weak and unprotected, according to him. His aim was to protect the beauty of this diversity and to express his political thought through Priandello. The piece was produced without translators and the team had to learn communicating in the new situation. Magelli said: »The focus of my attention was the magnificent team of actors who come from minority theatres. We worked together to reach a kind of symbiosis, unity. It's like a human who has five heads and speaks five languages. It's very nice to see.«

Thirteen actors from five countries and six theatres appear on stage, with the Slovenian Permanent Theatre in Trieste contributing Daniel Malalan and Doroteja Nadrah, the youngest participant. She said of her experience: »It's a nice experience. When I learned I was going to Rijeka to work, I thought it would be nice to get a chance to broaden my space - not only the Slovenian space but with something I don't know yet - and above all that there would also be people from other places there, so that the image will become even broader. And it did, not only broader, but also deeper, because I had the chance to meet truly magnificent people from various cultural backgrounds and with different stories. And we were directed by Paolo Magelli, who is a great theatre 'persona' and you can really learn a lot from him, because he freely shares his knowledge.« How did communicating with different cultures and languages look like? »We communicated in German, Italian, Serbo-Croatian and sometimes Slovenian. When we couldn't work around it, we spoke English. We managed to get everything through everything,« she said. Nadrah learned some Hungarian and Albanian words in the month of preparations and her knowledge of Italian and German improved as well, she said. And she was not the only one. Daniel Malalan has more experience and he had worked with Magellli before.


Of Pirandello and the Giants he said: »In all of Priandello's works an actor and art appear in some way. We must look at different layers. The main protagonist is Ilse, who becomes a countess through marriage, but she actually doesn't care about it, she remains an actor, and she says it out loud. At the same time, at the symbolic level, she is art and theatre. Times were apparently hard for an artist when Pirandello wrote the piece. The same is true today if we look at the attitude towards art. I'd say that multilingualism was absolutely the director's choice. He picked minorities, which are maybe the weak part of society, but at the same time they are the stronger part, the image of openness, di-

versity and democracy. And there's something else as well. Who are the giants, what are the giants today? They can be gods, they can be demi-gods. To quote director Paolo Magelli yet again: Giants are all those who meet every year in Davos, that is, today's powerful people, like apparently the powerful people of a century ago. But the question is how to present art how can we tell these powerful people that art is important for society and for the people.«

Alojz Rebula: A Corinthian Column Alojz Rebula, born in 1924 in a farming and working-class family in San Pelagio in the Province of Trieste, is one of the most recognisable Slovenian authors. He graduated classical philology in Ljubljana, obtained a PhD in Rome, taught in Slovenian schools in Trieste, and is also a translator, playwright and essayist. He now lives in Loka pri Zidanem Mostu with his spouse, author Zora Tavčar. He has received multiple awards for his extensive literary oeuvre. Don't let the title A Corinthian Column deceive you: the new novel by Alojz Rebula does not go back to the Antiquity, but to the much more recent, for Slovenia rather fateful, period of the Second World War. The author took up a unique topic which has been consistently avoided, as the publisher noted on the sleeve, by both the left and right - the role of Slovenian Christian democracy in the war. Although the author wrote himself at the beginning of the book that it was a fictional rather than a historical novel, the majority of readers will probably read it with an emphasis on history. The story in which former classmates from a classical philology seminar at the Ljubljana Faculty of Arts, Christian socialist Stanko Kamnikar and Slovene Home Guard officer Rok Lipovar, are trying to reconcile in 1944 the Partisans and Communists with the Home Guard and make them jointly fight the occupiers, is fictional, but the framework is realistic: the Liberation Front, resistance and civil war, Communists dedicated to revolution and the divided Catholic movement, Christian socialists and the Home Guard.


Alojz Rebula. Photo: Večer


2nd Days of New Slovenian Film in Sarajevo The Slovenian Association Cankar from Sarajevo organised the second Days of New Slovenian Film in in the Bosnian capital between 21 and 23 March in cooperation with the Slovenian Film Centre, the Slovenian language lectureship at the Slavic languages department of the Sarajevo Faculty of Arts, and the Slovenian Embassy in Sarajevo. More than 310 visitors of the internationally acclaimed cinema Meeting Point, in which national film production houses (from countries including Spain, Turkey, Sweden and Italy) regularly screen the works of their film makers, and which is the backbone of the Sarajevo Film Festival, the largest film festival in the region, watched the films »Slovenia, Australia and Tomorrow the World« by Marko Naberšnik, »Ivan« by Janez Burger and »Miner« by Hanna Slak. The event was opened by Slovenian Ambassador to Bosnia-Herzegovina Zorica Bukinac and the president of the Slovenian Association Cankar Verica Džindo. All three films, which represent the apex of Slovenian film production in 2017, impressed the viewers with their portrayal of the present time, in particular with fates of individuals who are looking and yearning for love and fight for survival in the grip of a globalised and often banal world.

The project was devised and organised by Pavel Ocepek, the teacher of Slovenian at the Slovenian language lectureship at the Slavic languages department of the Sarajevo Faculty of Arts, while the film programme was picked by Nerina T. Kocjančič, the head of distribution and promotion at the Slovenian Film Centre. The Office for Slovenians Abroad, the Slovenian Film Centre, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Centre for Slovenian as a second and foreign language at the Ljubljana Faculty of Arts provided the funding. The 2nd Days of New Slovenian Film proved to be an excellent project, being a surprise in terms of attendance and media coverage, and showing that such projects have great potential and can promote Slovenian culture, in this case Slovenian film, in more than a decent way. If the first Days of New Slovenian Film in Sarajevo in 2017 were an attempt of sorts, we can say with certainty and the second edition confirmed the idea of long-term and annual promotion of new Slovenian film. Pavel Ocepek, teacher of Slovenian language at the Sarajevo Faculty of Arts Verica Džindo, the president of the Slovenian association Cankar from Sarajevo



Minister Žmavc receives Tatjana Rojc and Tamara Blažina Minister for Slovenians Abroad Gorazd Žmavc has received Italian Senator Tatjana Rojc, Tamara Blažina, the former Italian MP, Walter Bandelj, the head of the Council of Slovenian Organisations, Rudi Pavšič, the head of the Slovenian Cultural and Economic Association, and Igor Gabrovec, vice-president of the Friuli-Venezia Giulia Regional Council, who joined the recently elected senator. At a press conference at the Government Office for Slovenians Abroad, Minister Žmavc thanked Tamara Blažina for her work and achievements in her decade-long career in parliament, in particular for her efforts towards the systemic financing of the ethnic Slovenian community from Rome and in the school system. The minister presented Blažina a special recognition for her long track record as a member of the Italian Chamber of Deputies and her efforts in the fight for the rights of the Slovenian ethnic community in Italy. He congratulated Tamara Rojc on being elected senator and stressed that many doors would open for her because of the reputation she had gained. Tatjana Rojc and Tamara Blažina were also received by Prime Minister Miro Cerar and Foreign Minister Karl Erjavec.




Slovenians around the world are our opportunity In a bid to encourage regular exchange of Slovenian students and researchers hosted by professors of Slovenian descent or professors who promote Slovenia in their work at various universities and research institutions abroad, Minister for Slovenians Abroad Gorazd Žmavc and the head of the board of directors of the American Slovenian Education Foundation (ASEF) Jure Leskovec signed at Strmol Castle on 26 March a memorandum of understanding and an agreement on the financing of the ASEF fellowship programme. »I'm happy that today's signing of the memorandum between the Government Office for Slovenians Abroad and the ASEF will bring a new dimension into the relations with our compatriots in the homeland and abroad,« the minister said on the occasion. »The Office is aware that getting an education and gaining experience abroad is a challenge for young people, but we would like to bring these young people closer to the homeland.« Young people who study abroad have not forgotten about Slovenia, as the ASEF initiative has shown. »As minister, I look with great admiration at the ASEF initiative, the Association of Slovenians Educated Abroad, and the activities of scientific and research clubs, which represent a connection between around 300 Slovenian associations around the world and the homeland.« Important investment in knowledge and future Minister Žmavc said that this year's fellowship programme was worth around $250,000, with the Slovenian government contributing around a third. A total of a million dollars will have been spent on the programme in four years, which according to the minister represents an important investment in knowledge and the future. »Slovenia can only get bigger with the project,« the minister said. The minister is convinced that the project strengthens cooperation in the process of brain circulation and encourages international cooperation in education and science, while at the same time preserving Slovenian identity among compatriots abroad.


// SLOVENIANS OUTSIDE SLOVENIA Slovenians can be competitive beyond our borders »It is important that our people go abroad, learn new things and ways of thinking, and then return to Slovenia. Slovenians need to be aware that they we be competitive beyond our borders, and that when they leave Slovenia it does not mean that they have abandoned their homeland, they only expanded its borders,« said Leskovec, stressing that it was important that the flow went both ways. »This way people in Slovenia will learn how to accept these Slovenians at home. We have to be aware that the people who went abroad did not abandon Slovenia and that they are an opportunity.« Leskovec has found that Slovenians are returning home at an increasing rate. »All of us love Slovenia. This is where our parents and friends live. Life in Slovenia is beautiful.« According to Leskovec, an associate professor of computer science at Stanford University, ASEF was established four years ago by Slovenians in California in a bid to connect Slovenians around the world and accelerate the flow of knowledge, culture, ideas and entrepreneurship. »Our main programme are research fellowship exchanges which enable the best Slovenian students to be hosted by Slovenian professors at US universities over the summer.« The programme grew from three students in 2014 to fourteen in 2017. This year the foundation will try to bring at least 20 students to the US,

said Leskovec, adding that »our programme is being expanded to Canada, United Kingdom and other countries where Slovenian professors work. We are open both to Slovenians from the homeland and compatriots from other countries.« Leskovec is happy that the Slovenian government is aware of the importance of these connections, mutual help and support. Of course, we could not avoid asking about US President Donald Trump and the First Lady. »Donald Trump is a untameable cowboy. Americans now have to deal with him and figure out what to do next,« Leskovec described the US president. He has not met Melania Trump yet, but he said that »in a way we can be proud that the First Lady is Slovenian. She could do a lot, and I wish that she was at the forefront a bit more and find out what role she could play, what she could contribute to American politics. I think that in time, Mrs Trump will get more active. I'm looking forward to that.« Slovenians themselves are their biggest obstacle Where does Jure Leskovec sees Slovenia's opportunities? »I think that there are many opportunities. We are highly developed, small and well educated ... Slovenia has a huge potential. We have to open up, catch a breath and deal with ourselves a little bit more. In my opinion, Slovenians themselves are their biggest obstacle.«  Blanka Markovič Kocen

One of the ASEF fellows is Kaj Jež, a second-year master's degree student at the Ljubljana Faculty of Economics. Last summer he took part in an ASEF student exchange programme at the University of Washington in Seattle, where he studied concession fees for water resources in the US and Slovenia under the mentorship of professor Miro Zdoljšak. »Research work in the US is much more autonomous. Researcher and mentor have much more freedom in picking a topic and researching it, while studying in the US is also much more

practice-oriented, especially in the natural sciences,« Jež said about his experience in the US. He received an ASEF fellowship for a 10-week study visit. The conditions for the fellowship were past research and academic achievements in the field, and potential recommendations from professors. »My obligation during the visit was to focus on research activity,« added the young student.



Entrepreneurs from neighbouring countries getting connected A meeting of representatives of the Slovenian Regional Business Association (SDGZ) from Trieste and the Slovenian Business Association (SGZ) from Klagenfurt was recently held in Camporosso in Val Canale, Italy.

to start meeting on regular basis in order to make the planning of joint activities even more effective. The first joint project, which is supported by the Office for Slovenians Abroad and which also involves organisations of the Slovenian ethnic communities in Croatia and Hungary, is the youth network MAJ (Mladi Alpe Jadran/ Young Alps Adriatic), which will be established in the coming months.mreža mladih MAJ (Mladi Alpe Jadran), ki bo zaživel v naslednjih mesecih.

The leaderships of the Slovenian business organisations in the Italian region of Friuli Venezia-Giulia and in the Austrian province of Carinthia talked about joint projects aimed at improving their cooperation for the benefit of both organisations and Slovenian companies from the home country. The leaderships are expected

Minister Žmavc receives Nobel Prize laureate of Slovenian descent Duncan Haldane Duncan Haldane, a professor of physics at Princeton University who won the Nobel Prize for achievements in theoretical physics in 2016, was received on 20 March at the Government Office for Slovenians Abroad by Minister Gorazd Žmavc. Professor Haldane, who is of Slovenian descent on his mother's side, recently paid a visit to the Jožef Štefan Institute, after receiving a


lifetime achievement award of the American Slovenian Education Foundation (ASEF) at Stanford University in California, US, from Jure Leskovec, an associate professor of computer science at the university. The minister thanked the Nobel laureate for openly recognising his Slovenian roots, providing an example to numerous Slovenian compatriots in the US and the world. At

the meeting, they also talked about possibilities of further cooperation between Haldane and the ASEF. On the occasion, the minister handed to Haldane a special recognition for being an exceptional example of loyalty to his Slovenian roots, and for his invaluable contribution to Slovenia's international reputation.


Anti-fascist movement TIGR presented in Pančevo The anti-fascist movement TIGR was presented in the National Museum in Pančevo, Serbia on 16 March 2018. The event was addressed by secretary general of the TIGR Primorska Association Miha Pogačar and the president of the association's Ilirska Bistrica branch Bernarda Dodič. The opening addresses and a recital were followed by the screening of a documentary on the first activists of the movement, who were brutally tortured and executed by Italian fascists. »TIGR Primorska is an association nurturing the tradition of TIGR (an acronym for Trieste, Istria, Gorizia, Rijeka), the first anti-fascist organisation in Europe. The association's activists are pointing to the historical facts of our past. Its members promote the preservation of the patriotic tradition of this unique organisation, which in a sense had laid the groundwork for all events which put the Slovenian nation on the right side, on the side of the winners against Nazism and Fascism in the Second World War. We want to raise awareness about the presence of TIGR in Primorska, build up its reputation, and keep the memory of the noble acts committed by TIGR members alive. We are working on raising awareness about the importance and role of anti-fascism in Primorska in the interwar period and the

work of TIGR as a national defence movement across Primorska. In the Second World War, anti-fascists from Primorska and other fighters of Yugoslav nations and ethnicities created the conditions for unification of a large part of the territory where Slovenians have lived. This is why we organise and encourage activities in schools, host social events in libraries, memorial meetings and other events where our unity, our word and historical truth is heard and seen,« Bernarda Dodič said in her address.


19th meeting of students of Slovenian language and culture courses in BosniaHerzegovina The 19th meeting of students of Slovenian language and culture courses in Bosnia-Herzegovina was held on 24 and 25 March 2018 in Sarajevo, organised by the Slovenian association Cankar from Sarajevo and the Europe Now association and financially supported by the Office for Slovenians Abroad. The meeting of students from Sarajevo, Kakanj, Zenica, Tuzla, Banja Luka and Prijedor was again held in Hotel Saraj. The students took part in drama, creative art, gardening, fencing and first aid workshops. At the end, all participants presented the skills they had gained at the workshops. Most of the students spent the evenings in the hotel discotheque, while some of the older students went for a stroll in the city. On Sunday morning, the students visited the National Museum in Sarajevo and took a walk in the old city centre. The participants left for their home towns in the afternoon, looking forward to meeting each other again next year.



Caritas continues to collect aid for Venezuela, Slovenians at risk too Venezuela is going through a complex humanitarian crisis. The hyperinflation, which was at 1,600% at the end of 2017, is deepening poverty (61.2% of the population live in extreme poverty). The prices of basic necessities have skyrocketed. There is a lack of food and medications. Caritas Venezuela reports that almost half of children under five are undernourished or at risk of undernourishment. The poorest ones frequently scavenge food scraps from waste.

With the funds collected in collaboration with the Catholic weekly DruĹžina and pro bono outpatient clinics in Kranj and Ljubljana, Caritas Slovenia last year provided medications for the Slovenian community in Venezuela on two occasions. It also sent EUR 3,500 to Caritas Venezuela for a one-year humanitarian programme for 4,800 most vulnerable Venezuelan families, 7,200 undernourished children under five and 1,440 pregnant women.

The poor conditions and the weak healthcare system have resulted in the spreading of infectious diseases, including malaria. The mortality rate has increased, especially among babies. This has forced many people to leave the country just to survive. The most vulnerable groups are staying behind, including children, pregnant women and the elderly.

Due to the extensiveness of the ongoing crisis, Caritas Slovenia continues to raise aid in 2018.

The Slovenian community in Venezuela also feels the consequences of the crisis. Last autumn they asked Caritas Slovenia for help for the first time, and the organisation responded with a humanitarian campaign.


Easter mass in Novi Sad The Kredarica association of Slovenians from Novi Sad continued the tradition and organised on 3 April an Easter mass in the Slovenian language in the Name of Mary Church in Novi Sad. The mass was served by Stanislav Hočevar, the archbishop of the Archdiocese of Belgrade, and Alojz Letonja, the parson of the St. Cyril and Methodius Church in Belgrade. The mass was accompanied by the mixed choir of the Kredarica Association with conductor Dunja Huzjan and Jožef Ritter on the organ. A mass in the Slovenian language meant a lot for Slovenians outside their homeland, as did the arrival of Monsignor Hočevar, who enjoys a lot of respect not only in the Roman Catholic Church community in Serbia, but in public life in general.


Many members of the association gathered at the mass, which was followed by a meeting with Church dignitaries in the association's premises. Joining the celebrations was Jasmina Veselinov, a member of the Kredarica Association and the winner of a potica competition in Vršac, Serbia. She baked one of its award winning poticas for the occasion. It was delicious! Olivera Veselinov

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E-magazine Moja Slovenija April 2018  

E-magazine Moja Slovenija April 2018