Students said

Silvia Žele

Silvia Žele, by profession a language teacher, was a student when Slovenian was introduced in 1977. She completed her secondary schooling before VCE was introduced. She valued her Slovenian studies, and has continued to maintain and develop her knowledge of Slovenian ever since.
I attended Slovenian classes in Saturday school from 1977 to 1979.

I remember spending time catching up with my cousins Anita and Mary and finding out what exciting Slovenian events were on at one of the clubs, the church, or in the homes of other Slovenians. This was extremely important. Slovenian parents, of course, were more likely to let their teenagers go out if they were mixing with Slovenians. I also remember the organizational details about getting to Box Hill High School for the classes.
The Slovenian language did not come easily for me. I struggled with the impact gender had on the endings of words and my pronunciation was atrocious.
Still, twenty-three years later, after spending time in Slovenia in 2001, I am preparing to restart my Slovenian language studies and I am looking forward to learning about the language, culture and people. Not with the focus only on the past but preferably on Slovenia”s present and future. The Slovenia of today is a new, independent nation with exciting prospects and opportunities for social and economic growth.
I plan to visit and experience the beauty of Slovenia at least one more time and will hopefully be better able to communicate after a year of studying the language.

Jan Novak

Jan Novak was a student of Slovenian in 2002, and has been for several years. He had completely missed out on Slovenian language during his secondary schooling, and found his way to the classes as a young adult with a successful career.
Waking up early on a Saturday morning to attend Slovenian class is not always easy, despite good intentions, especially for a mature aged student like myself (I”m 30) who works and socializes far too much. I find it a bit like going for a long jog in that the thought of getting out of bed to do something else always seems like a bad idea, but this feeling is short lived because Slovenian class with Sandi Ceferin is always fun, interesting, challenging and rewarding!
Slovenian class is more than just learning the complex grammar structure and vocabulary. My connection to Slovenia was a tenuous one (only my estranged father is Slovenian) and it existed in my mind in post-card form as that beautiful yet strange eastern-European country where some of my cousins lived. Through Slovenian class I was introduced to many exciting and new concepts that give flavour and uniqueness to a culture, from poems and proverbs (pregovori) to contemporary short stories by Andrej Blatnik to a live performance by the singers Oktet Suha. Of course there is also the mandatory learning about famous Slovenians such as Plečnik and Prešeren.

I”ve also enjoyed the style of teaching and the flexibility in the approach of delivering information. The Internet is a tool that is used frequently by students in Slovenian class as is video and audiotape. Magazines such as Misli are frequently brought in and discussed as are general current affairs (especially during the World Cup and Winter Olympics where Slovenia performed admirably)

Amongst my non-Slovenian friends I often find myself chatting about things I”ve learnt in Slovenian class, for example: singing a song about frogs. There”s always a subject of discussion and genuine interest. I find the enthusiasm I have gained for all things Slovenian has been infectious, as friends have made Slovenia a “must-see” on their European travel itinerary.

Andrew Potočnik
I was born in Melbourne in a home where the native language of my 1950ies immigrant parents Slovenian was the sole language spoken – and has continued to be spoken till present day. In 1981, as soon as Slovenian was accredited, I also completed VCE Slovenian.
In those days, being from a “New Australian” background had its drawbacks, even though our lives were richer through diversity. Nowadays the ability to move between cultures, assimilate and meld riches typical of each gives me an advantage I treasure almost daily.

Working as a specialist Creative Arts secondary teacher, I find that my background is no longer “different” to the norm, but typical of this city. A decade and a half of teaching and travel through many countries of the world, I find that my background provides me with aptitude to interpret foreign cultures, most often through the ability to pick up languages and think as an outsider new to a new situation or language.

Self-expression is often restricted by expectations of gender or culture, to overcome these is liberating, enabling insight into worlds once restricted.

Linda Stolfa

When I was a teenager, I studied the Slovenian language for approximately three years. I had an interest in other languages and also thought that it would help me to appreciate my cultural background. Little did I know that it would contribute to my adult life experience in such a significant way. Throughout my travels in Slovenia, I came to appreciate my ability to communicate with my relatives and learn more about the Slovenian way of life and history.

Although my Slovenian speaking skills are quite basic, I believe that Slovenian language will always be part of me, and something that I will treasure forever. My experience in learning the Slovenian language and other languages is that you gain an insight and appreciation into your own cultural background and also that of others. I have gained a greater perspective to understand how people belonging to other cultures think, which for me is an enriching experience.

I am truly glad that I spent time in my younger years learning the Slovenian language. However, that is not to say that it cannot be done in adult years.

Veronica Smrdel

All my life I have appreciated my Slovenian background. I attended Slovenian school for many years at the Slovenian Association Melbourne, involving myself in many cultural programs, folk dancing and singing. When I was 20, I went back to the Victorian School of Languages and completed my 2 years of VCE in Slovenian. I have continued to be involved in many activities in the Slovenian community, organising youth masses and youth committees, attending Rome for World Youth Day on behalf of the Slovenian community, Pastoral committee member etc. I also worked on Slovenian Ethnic Radio 3ZZ. For a number of years I was Principal of Slomšek Primary School.
I lived in Slovenia for a year where I attended Slovenian Language summer school and also Slovenian Language Teachers Seminar. I have been to Slovenia five times. I love my Slovenian background and being able to speak the language allows me to become involved in many aspects of the Slovenian community.
As a secondary school teacher in schools with students who come from ethnic backgrounds, I have found that knowledge of Slovenian language and culture helped me to understand and empathize with these students, particularly with their needs growing up with an ethnic background.
I am very proud to be Slovenian and be able to speak another language in addition to English.

Roland Mrak

I studied Slovenian for six years throughout my secondary school. It was a time when Saturday mornings led me on an exciting cultural journey far different to the one I was growing up in.
We have always spoken Slovenian at home and I speak it fluently, however studying it at school, gave me an appreciation of how complex Slovenian language really is.
It was terrific to be introduced to some of the great Slovenian literary works – a treasure house of books and poems, which gave me an insight into the culture. It also made me realize how important they were and how fortunate I was to be able to read and understand them.
I enjoyed Slovenian classes for another reason. I made friends there and met other people with whom I had something in common – being Slovenian. Learning Slovenian has allowed me to communicate with people in another language. I appreciated this ability whenever I met and spoke in Slovenian with people visiting from Slovenia. I valued it most when I traveled in Slovenia and fell in love with the culture we have learnt about.
I have found that knowing another language is special. It often raises interest with people I meet, and they want to know more about me as a person and about Slovenia. Living in a multicultural society, I also think that it has been an advantage to know another language because it gives you a direct understanding and respect for other cultures.
Apart from such advantages, learning another language is highly rewarding personally. It allows me to converse with my parents in their native language and speak with relatives overseas. Recently I had the pleasure of traveling through Slovenia. It was a great experience to be able to communicate with people directly in their own language. It meant experiencing the culture and everything Slovenia had to offer in a way not possible through an interpreted view.

I really enjoyed the multicultural days held at the school, when all the language classes being taught would present foods, dress in traditional costumes, play music and allow you to explore other cultures and share the Slovenian culture with others.

Barbara Brožič

I was born in Australia to Slovenian migrant parents in a Slovenian speaking environment.

From the age of five, I attended Slovenian classes at the Slovenian Religious and Cultural Centre in Kew. I continued Slovenian studies at secondary level (Victorian School of Languages) under the guidance of teacher and mentor Mrs Viki Mrak and matriculated in 1992.

My love for the Slovenian language, culture and family has resulted in three visits to Slovenia. The desire to improve my language skills have led me to study at University of Ljubljana. This was made possible with the assistance of a scholarship funded by the government of Slovenia.

The vast majority of my family live in Slovenia, knowledge of the language enabled me to visit and communicate with my family in my mother tongue and to view the Slovenian way of life from a perspective that would have been clouded had I not spoken the language.

My language skills have not only helped me on a personal level but also on a professional level. At present I am employed as a registered nurse in Critical Care in a Melbourne Metropolitan Hospital. In my chosen profession I have found language skills in general and knowledge of Slovenian in particular of great advantage.

Slovenian language has enabled me to understand not only speakers of Slovenian, but also speakers of similar languages – the Slavic group (Croatian, Serbian, Ukrainian, etc).

In addition it contributed significantly to my understanding of difficulties experienced by speakers of other languages when trying to express themselves in English.

I love and cherish my background and I am grateful to my parents and teachers of
Slovenian who have immersed me in my mother tongue and the Slovenian culture. I would like to encourage other people to travel to Slovenia, learn the language, breathe in the culture and take up the way of life.

Aleksander Braletitch

Rodil sem se v Egiptu, leta 1940. študiral sem francoščino, arabščino in angleščino, slovensko pa sem govoril samo z mamo.

Moja mati Pepina se je rodila v vasi Kamnje pri Ajdovščini. Po njeni smrti leta 1992 nisem izgubil samo matere, ampak tudi slovenski jezik, saj nisem imel nikogar, da bi se z njim lahko pogovarjal po slovensko.

Ta izguba jezika se mi je ob obisku Slovenije in sorodnikov naslednje leto že zelo poznala, komaj da sem se za silo sporazumel s stricem, teto in sestrično.
Tako sem se odločil za vpis na sobotni pouk slovenskega jezika v Victorian School of Languages. V šoli sem spoznal dve zelo sposobni učiteljici, Sandi Ceferin in Viki Mrak, od katerih sem se mnogo naučil.
Nisem vedel, da je slovenski jezik tako težak, ampak počasi sem se izpopolnil v govoru, pisanju in branju.
Ob naslednjem obisku v Sloveniji so mi vsi čestitali k mojemu napredku v tako kratkem času. S posebnim veseljem se spominjam srečanja v Ljubljani. Stara ženica me je prosila, da bi jo peljal čez razdrto cesto. Kratek pogovor, ki sem ga imel z njo, sem popolnoma razumel in bil zelo ponosen na to. Spomnil sem se mame in oči so se mi orosile.
Slovenski razred zdaj obiskujem že peto leto. Kadar grem zdaj v Slovenijo, veliko govorim, poslušam radio in berem časnike.
Vse to mi je v neizmerno veselje in osebno zadoščenje. Trdno sem se namenil, da ne smem izgubiti jezika, v katerem mi je govorila moja slovenska mati. Nočem izgubiti svojih korenin in sorodnikov, s katerimi se tako dobro razumem. Ko sem prvič obiskal Slovenijo je bilo, kot da bi prišel domov. Občutek sem imel, da sem se v Sloveniji rodil in tam vedno živel.
Prišla mi je misel: To je moja domovina. Tukaj je moj rod.

Pavel Šraj

Čim več jezikov znaš, več veljaš, pravi slovenski pregovor. Mogoče bom v prihodnosti potoval, študiral in živel v Sloveniji. Znanje jezika mi bo pomagalo na potovanju in pri zaposlitvi. Tako bom lahko uporabil to znanje na primer pri prevajanju in tolmačenju, v sredstvih obveščanja, v diplomatski službi in podobno.
Znanje jezika prispeva k spoštovanju in strpnosti do drugih narodov in kultur. To je posebno važno v Avstraliji, kjer živi mnogo ljudi iz vseh krajev sveta.
Znanje slovenščine je za mene še posebnega pomena, ker le znanje jezika je pot do mojih korenin in moje dediščine.
Sabina Vogrin

Poleg rednih šolskih predmetov – v redni šoli med tednom – sem si izbrala kot maturitetni predmet še slovenščino. Slovenski razred v Victorian School of Languages sem obiskovala štiri leta vsako soboto med šolskim letom. Vstajati sem morala zgodaj zjutraj in je bilo včasih kar težko. Vendar sem rada hodila. Spoznala sem veliko novih prijateljev, s katerimi sem se vsak teden srečala in pogovarjala. Mnogo sem se tudi naučila. Spoznavala sem jezik svojih staršev in poglabljala znanje slovenske kulture, ki je tako bogata po zgodovini, umetnosti,
glasbi in literaturi.

Važno mi je, da govorim slovensko s svojimi starši in da lahko pišem pisma sorodnikom in prijateljem v Sloveniji.

Ponosna in zadovoljna sem, da govorim dva jezika, poznam dve kulturi in da pripadam obema v vsej njuni različnosti.

Iris Dietner

Z veseljem se učim slovensko, ker so predavanja zanimiva in ker me s sošolci veže nekaj skupnega, to je ljubezen do Slovenije, slovenskega jezika in kulture.
V vsej svoji zgodovini smo bili Slovenci le za kratek čas gospodarji na svoji zemlji. Slovenski jezik je bil izrinjen iz cerkva, iz šol, iz uradov, pa vendar se je ohranil in razvijal.

Zakaj? Zato ker smo hoteli ostati Slovenci.

Tudi mi v izseljenstvu. Tisoči kilometrov razdalje niso iz nas naredili tujcev.
Vsi Slovenci, ki živimo v tujini, delimo podobne izkušnje na temo: kako ohraniti slovenski jezik v družini. šola, delo, prijatelji, televizija, časopisi – od jutra do večera moramo poslušati, govoriti in misliti angleško.

Od nas mladih je odvisno, ali se bo slovenski jezik obdržal v tej daljni zemlji. Vsakdo, ki si želi naučiti slovenski jezik, si mora postaviti cilj in se potem zelo potruditi, da ta cilj doseže.

Jaz imam v Sloveniji prijateljico, s katero se že deset let redno dopisujem. Ona mi piše v angleščini, jaz ji pa odgovarjam v slovenščini. Tako je dobro in koristno za obe.

Michael Polh

On Slovenian Identity
To be Slovenian is to have some part of Slovenia in you, whether it is your birthplace, family history, the language your speak or traditions you partake in.

I consider myself an Australian Slovenian. I was born in Australia, live an Australian lifestyle, speak Australian English at home and at school, enjoy all aspects of the Australian culture and country.

My grandparents were born in Slovenia, I learn Slovenian language at school, eat
Slovenian food, follow Slovenian traditions.

I am neither fully Australian or fully Slovenian. Perhaps I can say that I am an Australian with a part of Slovenia in my heart.

Andrew Bratina

My name is Andrew and I am an Australian born – Slovenian. Preservation of language and culture are very important to me. As I am of Slovenian background (All my ancestors – as far back as 100 years and more – were of Slovenian origin), nurturing and protecting traditional Slovene customs has become one of my hobbies.
I attend VSL (Victorian School of Language) on Saturday mornings where I deepen my knowledge and pride in a land I only know from a visit over three years ago. Despite its small land space (just over 20 000km sq.), I marvel and admire Slovenia for its determination to stand up against the majority and say that they are what they are: Slovenians.
On Sundays my family attends church at Ss Ciril and Methodius, in Kew. This is a great opportunity to experience a Roman Catholic Mass in the Slovenian language. Everything from the hymns to prayers of the faithful is said in Slovenian.
I also have many Slovenian friends who may not always appreciate Slovenia as much as I do, but share the same common emotions of pride and love for their ancestral homeland.
I say that if Slovenians want to protect their language and culture, then they must commit to doing it, not lying back and complaining about it. The Italians, Greeks and French are all very patriotic, and therefore they make one of their first priorities to teach their children the language and even the culture of their homelands. It is all up to parents (and grand-parents) to support the youth. If they show interest then most likely they will learn to have interest too.

Rodil sem se v Sloveniji in moj materinski jezik je slovenščina. Doma vsi govorimo slovensko, nisem se pa učil brati in pisati. Zato je treba iti v šolo.
Hodim v slovensko šolo, da ohranim slovenski jezik. Tam tudi srečam dosti slovenskih prijateljev, ki se prav tako učijo slovensko. Največkrat se vidimo samo v šoli.
V šolo hodim rad, ker se učimo stvari, ki me zanimajo: slovenska zgodovina, slovenski pisatelji in pesniki. Obdelali smo tudi devetdnevno vojno v Sloveniji, kar je bilo tudi zelo zanimivo.
Slovensko se učim, ker se hočem, ne zato ker moram.



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.