Slovene Students around the World
After Slovenia became an independent state, Slovene student’s started to feel a need for opening to the world. If we want to walk along with the most developed countries, we certainly can not afford hiding and separating from the rest of the world. In the forcoming period of a so called “global village” our state is much too small for the attitude of that kind. On the other hand the Slovenes as numerically not very strong nation can not let the contacts between the nation and its diaspora to die away. Now that we have our own state and we are able to decide our own future, we are able to define more courageously the frame of a new, all Slovene co-operation. But the company of that kind will not have the future unless we involve in those plans young people, members of future intelligence above all.
The project “Slovene Students around the World” at the International Office of Student Organization of the University of Ljubljana (SOU) was started as the result of such mentality. The Project has been operating for two and a half years and it became a part of the regular activities of the international Office. When the project was brought up its aim was to establish contacts with Slovene students on the other side of the state borders, around Europe and worldwide, if the interest for co-operation existed. We were well aware of the fact that we were starting almost all over again, while after the stormy period at the beginning of the nineties even the modest contacts from before were cut down. Our anticipation that that was the last time to reach out the hand to our colleges abroad, turned out to be correct, while their reply was far over acceptation. We have established contacts with Slovene students’ Clubs in Klagenfurt, Graz, Wienna, Zagreb, Split, Rijeka and Triest. We helped the Slovene Students‘ Club in Zagreb to get on its feet after a couple of years of break and start with its work within the frame of Slovenski dom. On the other hand the Slovene Students’ Club in Triest was a completely new association of Slovene students at the University of Triest from both sides of the border. All those Clans got very well aquatinted with the Student Organization of the University of Ljubljana during the past year, which was their host at several occasions, among which the first meeting of Slovene Students‘ Clubs from abroad, which took place in Ljubljana in april 1995, was of the highest importance. We strive to make such a meeting a traditional one.
This year it will take place in spring in Triest. Although we have done quite a step forward regarding Slovene Students’ Clubs co-operation, we have to confess that we are still beginners as far as the co-operation with Slovene students further in Europe and worldwide. The most solid contacts we have established up till now were with the Slovenes in Australia. Actually we ran across them by chance, but we were amazed by their activities and prepares for co-operation. At the moment we have contacts only with Sydney but we would like to get in touch also with students, living in other cities. According to the new Australian trends of emphasizing intercultural learning they show a great interest for Slovene language, culture, history, ethnology and Slovene in general, Therefore we plan to offer them a visit to Slovenia, where they could get familiar with the country of their ancestors and their colleges who live here. Before the end of the present year we plan to establish contacts with the Slovene student population in the states of both American continents. First of all in Argentina, United States of America and Canada, where the Slovene societies are numerically stronger. I would like to emphasize our intention to establish co-operation with Slovene students as wide as possible regardless of the country they live in.
Undoubtedly the aims of this project substantially reach beyond the bare acquainting of Slovene students from Slovenia with those from abroad. It is true that Slovene students know quite badly what is life like in Slovene societies around the world, and it is usually a coincidence to find one among Slovenes who live abroad. But knowing each other is the basis for a successful work. We would like our mutual acquaintance to get a practical and useful form starting with study and free time activities, later on after studies with scientific, cultural, economic and political co-operation. Since we deal here with questions of wider national importance and reach beyond the mission of the Student organization, we expect the Slovene State to fallow our example. On the field of studies the opportunities are barely taken. At this point I would like to go back and refer to the thought at the beginning of this article regarding the usefulness of the studies abroad, which is itself quit a demanding step taken by an individual. Therefore every information, suggestion or concrete assistance from the side of our colleges living abroad is very precious for us. We shouldn’t forget the numerous Slovene professors around the world, having important and respectful positions in society close to the sources of high quality information. I think that in Slovenia we are not totally aware of the importance of this hidden treasure. On the other hand Slovene students have also much to offer through our Organization to our compatriots and colleges worldwide. First of all we can offer assistance at all those kinds of studies, where the two Slovene Universities have the leading role: Slovene language and literature, ethnology, folk and artificial music, history and more. We should keep in mind that the co-operation during the study period creates a good environment for fruitful co-operation in the years later on.
The reasons for co-operation are more than enough. And since we have already lost enough time we shouldn’t allow more chances to slip out of our hands. At this point I would like to invite the Slovene students from all around the world to accept our initiative for better mutual aquintenance and co-operation. Here at The Student Organization we are open for the suggestions and initiatives of all kinds, while you know best what you need and want. We are addressing also to the Slovene professors and educated persons. Our project group consists of another two members beside myself and we work at the international Office, Kersnikova 4, Ljubljana. You can reach us by phone on + + 386 61 13 37 219 or by fax on + + 386 61 13 33 348.
Little, very little we know about the Slovenes living abroad, but we try to find out the importance they have for Slovenia. Let me conclude with going back to the very beginning: the Slovenes living abroad. You need Slovenia for staying Slovenes, and we need you to become cosmopolitans.