Julija Irma Könje: “Songs allow us to truly connect with our roots.”

Julija Irma Könje was born to Slovenians living in Canada. Today, her family lives not far from Toronto, where she works as a teacher and sings in the Plamen Vocal Group – a famous Slovenian choir headed by Marija Ahačič Pollak. Julija has fond memories of Slovenian songs, which she used to sing with her mother as a child. She finds Slovenians to be amazing, resilient and generous people. She believes Slovenia has the potential to work closely with Canadian Slovenians – both in business and culture.


The Prekmurje dialect takes to the stage in Pennsylvania!

In the first week of December, the Slovenian Emigrant Association hosted an interested and well-attended presentation of the book Dramska izseljenska besedila v prekmurščini (i.e. Emigrant Plays in the Prekmurje Dialect) by Klaudija Sedar. It is a selection of plays written by Prekmurje Slovenians living in Betlehem, Pennsylvania, which the author hopes will one day be enacted by some amateur theater. Sedar explains, “There were many more plays, but they most likely got lost with time or have been misplaced somewhere. After all, the Prekmurje dialect is no longer in use – except perhaps in private conversations among its speakers – and is spoken and read by less and less people.” Sedar, who has announced she would continue the project, has already sent several editions of the book to Slovenians in Pennsylvania, which should arrive before the holidays.


Mojca Cvetkovič building a bridge between Slovenian tradition and Australia

The Cvetkovič family moved to Melbourne, Australia, on 27 September 2007, but they had been thinking about moving to another continent for a long time. Mojca Cvetkovič cannot quite put a finger on why they opted for Australia, “We simply wanted to live someplace warm, such as Spain, France or even Australia. We moved to Brisbane, which immediately fascinated us with its temperate climate, lush vegetation and long sandy beaches. The Gold Coast is popular tourist destination among Australians, and it is known as the “surfers’ paradise.” Recently, Mojca – a lively and talkative lady – paid a long visit to Slovenia, during which she hoped to find new opportunities for developing her business idea. It was during this visit that I met her at the Slovenian Emigrant Association.


Kindler Botanical Garden: Town park in Ilirska Bistrica

Behind the town hall in Ilirska Bistrica, in the southwestern part of the town, lies a botanical garden. As we have been told by the local tourist information center, it takes up four hectares of land that is full of exotic and native vegetation. While 110 plants are said to have been planted by Viljem Kindler, this number most likely changed last year when the garden was refreshed. It attracts visitors all year round, but is the most frequented in the summer (from June to September) when water lilies blossom. The garden is currently decorated to reflect the holiday spirit, so it is also a sight to behold druing winter.


2023 marked by natural disasters, minister replacements, the Frankfurt Book Fair and success in football

2023 will be remembered as the year when nature truly showcased its destructive powers. Yet, days of disaster were also days of solidarity and kindness – and also political promises that those struck by disaster will be helped. The new government elected by Slovenians last year has now been heading the country for over a year and a half. It has not been easy, and many voters believe things have been moving too slowly or in the wrong direction. This showed the most with the healthcare reform, which ultimately led to the replacement of the minister – two others were taken later by the floods.

Due to increases in the prices of food and energy in 2022, we started 2023 with high inflation. Nevertheless, inflation finally decreased in November, mostly due to gradual balancing of food prices and eventual drop in energy prices by the end of the year.

The main topic in culture was Slovenia being the guest of honor at the Frankfurt Book Fair, which took place from 18 to 22 October 2023. Slovenia showcased 65 authors under the tagline Honeycomb of Words. The Slovenian pavilion and stand hosted about 100 events, and many events also took place in the city.

The Slovenian football team has qualified for the 2024 UEFA European Football Championship in Germany.