ISSV Projects 1998 – 2009

ISSV has undertaken a number of projects with the aim of promoting Slovenian language and culture in Australia and worldwide, providing information about Slovenian studies and establishing contacts with Slovenia. It has contributors in Slovenia. ISSV members regularly visit Slovenia, establishing contacts, gathering resources and undertaking research for the Web presence.
 
The main and focal project of ISSV is the web node www.thezaurus.com, which incorporates a number of separate projects aimed at promoting Slovenian language, culture and establishing communication. This is the dynamic and constantly growing part of the ISSV work, which has in the meantime reached a large global public.

There are other initiatives. In 2001 ISSV has organized four programs in Melbourne for the Australian Reading Tour of Five Slovenian Authors, Evald Flisar, Tomaž Šalamun, Lela B Njatin, Maja Vidmar and Andrej Blatnik. It succeeded in the aim of presenting Slovenian authors to an Australian public. They were also enthusiastically received by a section of the Slovenian community. We took this occasion to present to the Australian public Slovenian Literator – a database of contemporary Slovenian literature in English translation.
 
We are continually developing a Slovenian curriculum that is up-to-date, intended to target all those with an interest in Slovenia. We have presented a plan for a Slovenian Online Course in Slovenia. We had perceived the need for such a course some years ago and proceeded to develop it. Since the Centre for Slovenian as a Second Language at Ljubljana University is giving serious consideration to development of a Slovenia-based online course themselves, we are now planning to develop a Slovenian coursebook for complete beginners.

In 2001 we completed the VCE Study Design Slovenian, the latest publication for VCE study of Slovenian undertaken by Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA), providing specific sample units for Slovenian language and extensive bibliographies of references and general study resources.

ISSV also continues with course development for Slovenian language as required by the Victorian School of Languages. In 2001 and 2002, extensive CSF Course Outlines were completed for CSF levels 1 to 10 and VCE Course Outlines.

An important project initiated at the end of 2002 by the ISSV, is the student exchange program for VSL students of Slovenian, particularly the VCE candidates, with two Slovenian secondary colleges. Initially students would spend two months in a Slovenian school, studying Slovenian, attending classes and participating in school activities. The two secondary colleges are the Diocesan Classical Gymnasium in Ljubljana and the Diocesan Secondary College in Vipava. Students have applied for and received funding by the Office for Slovenes Abroad and the Ministry for Education, Science and Sport of Slovenia. The first student  spent 6 weeks at the Slovenian high school. in Vipava.  Three  students travelled to Ljubljana in September 2003 and spent over two months at the Classical Gymnasium in Šentvid.
 up the scholarship and spent 6 weeks at the Slovenian school. Three students travelled to Ljubljana in September 2003 and spent over two months at the Classical Gymnasium in Šentvid.

Thezaurus and the Internet – The LOTElinx Project.
In the nineties information technology was beginning to make an impact in Australia, not only as an important medium of communication, but also as a significant tool for acquiring knowledge. We heard of amazing initiatives such as the global classroom, where children were learning to communicate and share knowledge in unprecedented ways. The developing web-based technology offered new possibilities and exciting challenges for education and ushered in a new phase of Slovenian language teaching.

In 1998 the Department of Education, Employment and Training of Victoria provided language associations of Victoria, including ISSV, with funding and professional development to establish language websites for the use of teachers and students. The so-called LOTElinx Project represented an exciting attempt to bring the Internet and languages into the classroom.

From the start we envisioned a broader concept than the one set by the sponsor. We aimed to develop a website suited to the unique needs of our community. We saw a small widely dispersed language group, with few new migrants and second and third generation young adults rediscovering their cultural roots, planning to visit Slovenia and speaking with relatives in Slovenian.

We further decided to extend the target group to encompass all the English speakers. We argued that the Internet is by definition a global medium, and so we should develop a website that would meet the communication needs of Slovenes anywhere in the world.

We also envisaged the site as a web library which would facilitate language acquisition within a context of cultural awareness and expanding knowledge provided on the web. This aim was in the initial structure reflected in the language resources, the links and Sloveniana webzine. We also intended to develop an Online Slovenian course to provide for the emerging interest of the globally dispersed Slovenian community. The Forums would have the capacity of creating and drawing together such a global community.

From such thinking emerged the website Thezaurus.com. Three ISSV members undertook the project of creating the website: Aleksandra Ceferin, Chiron Morpheus and Sandi Ceferin. Their combined expertise comprised language teaching methodology, course development, classroom teaching, Web design and Web development.

Thezaurus was published on the Web on 1 January 1999. It has since grown considerably and developed several key projects: Sloveniana Webzine, Slovenian Language Resources, Webclassroom, Galeria Sloveniana, Careerlinx, Thezaurus Forums and an extensive collection of links to Slovenian websites.
Two important projects – Literator and Slovenian Online Course have not received financial support required.

The website Thezaurus.com has a steadily increasing readership from over sixty countries, attaining 250,000 hits monthly in 2005. The greatest number of viewers are from: the USA, Australia and Slovenia, followed by large numbers from Canada, Great Britain and Egypt.
 
The website thezaurus.com – Forums and links
The website www.thezaurus.com was conceived and developed by web designer Chiron Morpheus (aka Bojan Azman, as web destination point for conceptually selected and organized sources, links and contents. First published on 1 January 1999, Thezaurus is a dynamic and expanding collection of Slovenian cultural and language archives – a web library including selected links for the purpose of study and broadening of knowledge about Slovenia, its language, culture and its people.

It was based on a broad concept and vision for the maintenance of Slovenian identity – a sense of who we are and where we are going in the modern world. The website is an expression of our sense of pride in our origins, our language, our continued existence as a separate independent people, despite the pressures brought to bear on us to change. Thezaurus is also a vehicle for further projects on the Web, structured in such a way that projects can be included and expanded according to need. The structure is flexible and dynamic, so that new projects can be added.

The name Thezaurus means “a treasury or collection”. It is virtually a Web library containing a growing collection of Slovenian language and cultural resources. It functions as a platform for the Web projects of the ISSV for a broader presentation of Slovenia, its culture, its language and its people, accessible to all Slovenes throughout the world.

The website initially consisted of Forums and linguistic and educational reference links, language resources and information of Slovenian language courses in Australia, Slovenia and USA.
In 2001 the section Slovenian Language Resources was extended and supplemented with extensive information on the reformed VCE Design(Year 11-12) with up-to-date bibliographies of study references and thematic resources. In addition there was also an introduction to Curriculum and Standards Framework (CSF) with a sample lesson and key concepts, which had been implemented in the state of Victoria and with variations across all Australian states (Year 1-10).
Since it was intended that students study and expand their knowledge of Slovenia, web links were selected – intended to be used principally by the teachers as source material.
 
Sloveniana Webzine started with six articles on Slovenian history and unique ethnographic features and has since expanded thematically.

Two additional projects were added – Galeria Sloveniana and Department of Education of Victoria sponsored Careerlinx.
In the following years we developed, and asked for funding for a Slovenian Online self-study course and the project Literator – presenting Slovenian literature in English translation on the web.
 
Initial financial support for development of Thezaurus.com was received from the Department of Education of Victoria within the context of LOTElinx project. Since 1999 small grants have been provided by The Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Slovenia.

Funding went towards administrative costs of running Thezaurus, software and equipment. The remaining administrative costs and incalculable time spent in developing and maintaining the website was provided in the main by the three creators of Thezaurus.

Thezaurus website provides a range of interactive Forums. Thezaurus Forums were designed for dynamic and open communication for several online groups; the Slovenian community in Australia, and global Slovenian language and culture communities. The focus is on: events, new developments, and information about Slovenian language studies and culture. The Forums are open to anyone who may enter as a guest, make a comment, express an opinion. Registered members have the opportunity to publish newsworthy items and inform about cultural activities of Slovenian organizations.
 
The responsible editor, Sandi Ceferin presents material of interest to a large audience: news, articles, sources and links about Slovenian language, and cultural issues, matters which are related to ISSV and members activities, as well as significant Slovenian Australian community activities or events. The posts are for the English-speaking audience, with some articles which have been only published in Slovenian. Some forums consist of articles gleaned from the web from Slovenia and Australia in the areas of: Slovenian language, cultural identity, and immigrant research.      

Sandi Ceferin maintains ongoing web research activity of Thezaurus to highlight in the Forums and Links sections, news about the latest resources for Slovenian language, and culture.      
The Quick Links collection of Thezaurus serves the dual purpose as a quick guide to quality websites and information on Slovenia, and a springboard for the web resources material for the Webclassroom lessons.
The Links section consists of interesting web sites mainly from Slovenia which contribute to the body of online information about the country and Slovenian culture. The areas of interest include: Slovenian government, language learning sources, culture, media and society. In recent years there has been a great surge of informative Slovenian websites, which is reflected in the substantial Thezaurus collection. New quality links are included annually.
 
Sloveniana Webzine
The Web magazine is founded on the idea of presenting Slovenia and Slovenian culture on the Web – as a mosaic of historical, ethnographic and cultural perspectives of Slovenia and its people. The, articles, which will soon be a collection of 60, are the permanent cultural archives on the Web library.  The editorial principle is simple. Sloveniana Webzine presents Slovenia as an interesting country of extraordinary natural features, a fascinating historical landscape on the crossroads of Europe, remarkable individuals in all fields of human endeavour and other notable elements of Slovenian culture.

We highlight the outstanding, the exceptional, the riches of Slovenian country, people and traditions rather than the political, controversial and problematic issues of its past and present. This is done with the intention to strenghtening the identity and the pride in the achievements of a people, who had always existed but were seen and known only as a part of Austrian empire or in the 20th century as part of Yugoslavia.
 
The decision was made to publish in English language with the aim of reaching the large number of Slovenian descendants who are English speakers, and also because English is the lingua franca of our time. We aimed to present many elements for a wider cultural profile of a European country with rich traditions.
The number of articles will soon be sixty, and we are organizing the material in eight main categories for easier overview, access and visibility.

1. Slovenia Today
2. Cultural Treasures 
3. Ethnographic Heritage 
4. Natural Treasures 
5. Notable Slovenes
6. Slovenian History 
7. Slovenian Literature and the Arts
8. Myths and Legends

Webclassroom
The Slovenian Webclassroom was published on the Web in May 2001 as a resource for teachers of Slovenian, providing a series of interactive language-learning units based on Slovenian language web resources. It is one of the continuing ISSV projects of the Thezaurus online learning resources, open for use by teachers and students. Presenting resources on the Web is more cost effective and efficient than in printed form, whereby the latest resources can be made available virtually instantaneously.     

The Webclassroom has been developed as a teachers’ resource base and a viable alternative to a Slovenian online language course, that ISSV originally planned. The proposal for an Slovenian online course for beginners was presented in Slovenia in 2001. However Ljubljana University had already received funding to develop a long distance course.
                 
The Thezaurus webclassroom topics were designed specifically as a highly flexible resource that may be used by either the language instructor, or the more independent advanced student interested to expand knowledge or explore the various links compiled thematically on the given topic. Each topic sets out a variety of suggested or possible tasks, for different rates and levels of learning, and opportunities for individualised teaching. The instructor can freely use the suggested tasks, adapt tasks selectively according to the needs of the students,and also devise language exercises from the tasks or texts from the given links.

The format of the Webclassroom topics consists of: an introductory text to the topic giving information on the subject, a chart of written tasks with text types, accompanied by resource links to web sites to complete the tasks.         
The webclassroom chart format was designed especially as a template allowing instructors to easily create new units on any themes of their choosing. It shows and is an example of an effective process of resource design which could facilitate online sharing of teacher resources; teachers could post their resources in a simplified format to a teachers network.        

The Webclassroom methodology was modelled on the CSF (Curriculum and Standards Frameworks) gradually implemented by the Victorian Education Department from 1996. The CSF curriculum was particularly tailored to meet the needs of individual students and provided a set of standards for all school levels in Victoria. The Slovenian CSF syllabus, as was required for all languages taught in Victoria as a school subject, adhered closely to these standards. The units of the Slovenian Webclassroom were part of the Slovene syllabus, with the use of school library computers and for student home assignments, at the intermediate and advanced levels while it was taught at the centre of the Victorian School of Languages, Melbourne (Princes Hill Secondary College).

This was a special project of Sandi Ceferin, who in October 2005 restructured and expanded eighteen units of web-based language and culture topics, indexed into four new categories: Art and Culture, Country, Leisure and Recreation, Society. 
The diversity of thematic topics and the activities of the Webclassroom have been planned for language skills development, provoke interest, provide information, and intellectual stimulation. The themes of the units are dependent on the content of existing web resources. The websites are usually published in both Slovenian and English, since the majority of students are not expected to be highly proficient in Slovenian, and there are also some Slovenian language links for the advanced reader.

The Web facilitates an innovative approach to learning contemporary language and culture with the creative use of resources available on the Web. The web has proven to be a superb source of authentic materials for language learning and in tandem a motivator for the student who can easily pursue his/her individual interests and absorb more language as well as is gain knowledge of the country and culture.

Initially, as well as online resources for both instructors and students,the Thezaurus team had envisaged and developed an online language course for Slovenian as a second language for beginners. The course would be accompanied by comprehensive references, web resources, links, language and cultural resources to populate an integrated online environment for language studies.

Galeria Sloveniana
The project began with the intention of presenting the work of Victorian Slovenian artists to the community and the wider Australian public and create a cultural environment for exchange and communication in the first instance among the young Australians of Slovenian descent, and eventually lead to dialogue between Slovenian community in Australia and in Slovenia. The proposal was made by ISSV representatives to the Head of the Slovene mission in Melbourne fr. Method Ogorevec and presented at a Committee of the Religious and Cultural Centre. The Galeria Sloveniana would be launched in Baraga House Centre in Melbourne with the photographic exhibition Currents by Aleksandra Ceferin. Subsequently individual artists living in Australia would be presented to the Slovenian and Australian public, first of all in Baraga House, then in other suitable locations.

The Committee thought the concept was good, but some did not like the name, some wanted the project in the name of Sts.Cyril and Methodius Mission, rather than in the partnership with ISSV. Altogether it saw too many problems emerging from such an undertaking, and rejected the proposal.

Subsequently ISSV decided to establish an online gallery to present Slovenian/Australian artists on the web.

Galeria Sloveniana was launched in 2002 with an exhibition of Slovenian Australian artists. Its aim is to display and document the creativity of the Slovenian community in Australia, to present Slovenian artists and Slovenian art to the world community, and promote intracultural exchange and communication. An important facet of Galeria Sloveniana as an Internet gallery, is as an archive for exhibitions and presentations, and to present the seemingly distant locality of the Melbourne scene on the world web for viewing by Slovenes around the world. It provides the opportunity and the means to achieve the greatest possible response in Australia as well as in the world.

Slovenian Literator
Slovenian Literator – a web anthology of modern Slovenian literature – was launched on the web in August 2001 on the occasion of the visit of Five Slovenian authors in Australia. Its aim was to present contemporary Slovenian literature in English translation, and so make known the essence of the Slovenian soul to the world. It was founded on the anthology of Slovenian poetry and prose compiled by the Slovenian poet-writer Aleš Debeljak, The Imagination of Terra Incognita: Slovenian Writing 1945 – 1995.
 
The innovative and dynamic concept has been created by the web developer Chiron Morpheus as a model for organic and thematic presentation of Slovenian literary art. It is structured thematically, and the biography, reviews and extracts of contemporary Slovenian writers” works are presented.
 
ISSV and Slovenian Writers’ Association of Slovenia worked in partnership on this project, which has generated interest when presented in Melbourne (on the occasion of Reading Tour in August 2001) and at a major media conference in Ljubljana in September 2001(at the Slovenian Writers’ Centre).

ISSV and SWA applied for funding to the Ministry of Culture. So far the development of Literator as a database of Slovenian literature has not been adequately funded by Slovenian government.

Careerlinx/Slovenian Connections
Careerlinx was sponsored by the Education Department of Victoria in 2000 to stimulate languages studies, which had been for some time an optional subject, not required for university entrance as it was in the past.

It is intended to present the advantages of learning another language as part of general education and in terms of future careers and additional benefits of the knowledge of another language.

In the case of Slovenian we had always argued that knowing the language of their 
parents and heritage is of great value. There was no problem persuading students who did enroll for Slovenian language. More difficult was to argue with those, who argued a)that English is is sufficient if you want to make your way in the world, b)that Slovenian is such an insignificant and minor language, that it was not worth pursuing it, c) other school subjects are more essential for a future career.

The drive by Australian government tried to counter this general attitude, since particularly the business people strongly believe that communication is important in international business, and that for communication you need to speak the language of the person you are dealing with.

All this is of course true of the Slovenian, albeit small language. There were many instances where parents decided not to teach Slovenian to their children, and this was precisely the language that they needed when they decided to do business at an international level, with the central location in Ljubljana.

Such instances are of course exception rather than the rule. For our Careerlinx page we sought a number of our past VCE students and asked them of what benefit had been Slovenian to them.

We saw a great potential and opportunity for Careerlinx, which suitably structured,a could develop bilateral exchange between Australia and Slovenia – in personal, educational and commercial fields. We started by providing links and information on study of Slovenian language and employment in both countries.

Thezaurus Archives Online 1976 – 2006
Since 1976 STAV and later ISSV institutions have kept and managed archives of their educational and cultural activities. The body of documents is considerable, about 4.50 metres in size.
They include key correspondence regarding establishment and maintenance of Slovenian as a school subject, minutes of meetings, submissions to educational authorities, curriculum documents over a period of reform, samples of students work, examination papers, published articles, etc.

Since the archive is difficult to access in its location in Melbourne, it has been decided to make the materials accessible to researchers by presenting it online.
In 2005 all documents were organized, scanned and prepared for the web – over a period of 5 months.
It has been also a challenging web programming task, since there is little on the web, that would provide an example and direction.

Five Authors Literary Tour in 2001
in the beginning of 2001 Aleksandra Ceferin, ISSV President responded to a letter by Evald Flisar, President  of Slovenian Writers Association (DSP), regarding Five Authors Literary Tour of Australia.

AC agreed that ISSV would organize, coordinate the events in Melbourne and advertise the tour over Australia-wide Slovenian radio programs and the periodical Misli.

In subsequent months A.Ceferin contacted and organized dates for four readings in Melbourne: Monash University, Department of European Studies and Slavic Studies;
Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, English Department; Victorian Writers Association, Slovenian Religious and Cultural Centre, Baraga House, Melbourne.

The occasion was a springboard for discussions with members of DSP, and for the launch of Literator – Slovenian Literature in English translation website – at Monash University and RMIT.

Subsequently this led to the launch and media conference at DSP in Ljubljana in September 2001. The media response was very pleasing, with articles in all major daily newspapers and on the Internet.

The funding, however was minimal, and the participation by DSP did not eventuate.

Slovenian Goodwill and Information Office – SGIO
The SGIO was established in Melbourne in 2005 with the aim of assisting the elderly members of Slovenian community. All Slovenian Associations in Melbourne were represented, including the Institute of Slovenian Studies of Victoria, represented by Aleksandra Ceferin.

There is clearly a need to assist the Slovenian elderly in various problems that they encounter in regard to their pension, property in Australia and Slovenia, inheritance and assistance they may need due to age and state of health.
ISSV has involved itself in the establishment of the SGIO and assists with publicity and correspondence.

SGIO operates from Baraga House in Kew, has been functioning now for the second year and has been able to assist

ISSV and Slovenian Ethnographic Museum – Slovenian Handcrafts Exhibition
ISSV and SEM have formed a partnership in preparing a Slovenian Handcrafts Exhibition. The senior curator for Slovenian Emigrants Section Dasa Hribar-Koprivec and Aleksandra Ceferin have discussed the possibility of an exhibition of Slovenian Emigrant handcrafts in Victoria Australia at a meeting in February 2005.
The result of the discussion was a formal invitation by Aleksandra Ceferin (ISSV). Dasha Hribar-Koprivec came to Melbourne in May 2006 for 5 weeks to investigate the possibility of an exhibition in Ljubljana, with the approval and financial support by Ministry for Culture and Office for Slovenes Abroad

The resulting meetings with the community, organized and coordinated by Aleksandra Ceferin were successful. About 400 photographs and 40 articles were collected over a period of 4 weeks. Besides the organization, photography and collection of articles, A Ceferin was responsible for publicity in Australian Slovenian media.

There were further discussions at the Slovenian Ethnographic Museum in Ljubljana when A Ceferin visited Ljubljana in October. Funding was requested for an exhibition of handcrafts in 2007 at the Museum and for a web exhibition on Thezaurus, Galeria Sloveniana – to be designed and programmed by Chiron Morpheus(aka Bojan Azman)

With this initiative ISSV is advancing its expressed main aim of connecting and linking Slovenian communities in Australia and Slovenia. The response in both countries has already been most pleasing.

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Aleksandra Ceferin
Aleksandra Ceferin

Aleksandra Ceferin (M.A., B.A., Dip.Ed.) has introduced Slovenian language as a school subject in Australian school system and founded the Slovenian Teachers' Association of Victoria in 1976. She has extensive experience in language education: as teacher, lecturer, curriculum coordinator, course writer, language consultant and manager, VCE State Reviewer and Chief Examiner. Since 1998 she has been the President of ISSV and the manager and chief editor of its projects. Aleksandra visits Slovenian annually, establishing and maintaining contacts with Slovenia, and initiating exchanges and cooperation between organizations. In 2004 she was the recipient of the National Education Award of RS Slovenia.