All paths this year lead to the Princely Town and the Welcome Home event

This year, the organization of the annual Welcome Home event has been entrusted to the Slovenian Emigrant Association. “Holding an event of this type is quite the challenge for any similar organization. First and foremost, it is a responsibility towards everybody involved in the event, performers and other artists showcasing their creations,” the Head Secretary of the Slovenian Emigrant Association Jasmina Ilič states. “The Emigrants’ Picnic has been hosted annually at the Association from 1954 to 2010, when the organization of the Welcome Home event was taken over by the Government Office for Slovenians Abroad. Since 2019, all non-governmental organizations working with Slovenian emigrants have been co-organizing the event.” Ilič also adds that also working with them on the Welcome Home event are the Slovenian World Congress, the Rafael Society, and the Slovenia in the World Emigrant Association with support from the Government Office for Slovenians Abroad. Each of the organizations takes care of a part of the performances. Since this year’s main event will take place in Celje, they got in touch with the City Municipality of Celje, the Celeia Institute that manages the Celje Home, and the Club of Carinthian Slovenians.


Painter Gary Bukovnik, “To show your art in the land of your family heritage is priceless!”

Visiting Slovenia these days is Gary Bukovnik, an American painter of Slovenian descent. He was born in 1947 to Slovenian parents living in Cleveland, which is often referred to as a “Slovenian” city, but later moved to San Francisco. In 2003 and 2005, Bukovnik was a guest artist at the American Academy in Rome, and in 2010, he was the resident artist at the Michigan Institute of Arts in Kalamazoo. The same year, he also toured exhibitions and watercolor demonstrations across Japan.

“My grandfather’s family comes from Šenčur and Ljubljana. My grandmother’s family comes from a place that used to be called Windischgraz. I believe Cleveland has the highest population of Slovenians outside Slovenia. At first, I thought I would remain in Ohio forever. Then, my classmate and I moved to Atlanta, Georgia, with the idea of opening an art gallery. We actually opened it, but we also had to cloe it down, as things often are in life. I liked Atlanta, but what I really wanted was to live in a city with more culture and a more pronounced citizen spirit. When I first set my eyes on San Francisco, I knew I had found my city,” Bukovnik recounts for Rodna gruda during his visit to Slovenia.


Tina Kraker Chai: Charmed forever by Japan

After completing secondary education, Tina Kraker Chai decided to study Japanese language and culture at the University of Ljubljana. “Frankly, my first choice was architecture, but I did not pass the entrance exam, so I just accepted it as a sign that architecture was not a good fit for me,” she explains for the readers of Rodna gruda. Her second choice was Japanese language and culture at the Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana. Together with her family, Tina lives in Tokyo, where she works in tourism and has realized after living in Japan of 13 years that she never wishes to leave it.


Celje: With respect for the past and the future

In the last week of June, Celje – the Princely Town – will host the Welcome Home event, which is the traditional gathering of Slovenian emigrants in their homeland. We talked to Bojan Cvelfar, the head of the Social Activities Division at the City Municipality of Celje, about the city, its landmarks, and people. He explains that the most popular attraction is the Celje Castle, which is the largest Slovenian castle by ground area, that broods on the city from atop a mountain and offers breathtaking views of Celje and the Celje Valley. Two other must-sees include the City Below the City – the remains of the Roman Celeia with one the best-preserved Roman roads in the world, and the unique Pelikan Photography Studio that is made of glass. Recently, Celje has also been reviving the memory of world traveler and writer Alma Karlin. “In the past, Celje relied primarily on heritage tourism and its resounding history. With the newly adopted tourism development strategy, we will now also pay more attention to the primary products of the destination, such as cultural sightseeing, urban exercise, cuisine, as well as business and trade fair tourism. We will also develop supporting products, such as outdoor, sport, and workcation tourism.”


April marked by strikes and preparations for EU elections

Much like a few months back, Slovenia is once again witnessing a doctors’ strike. We have grown used to doctors having a strike – they have been doing it for four months and with both sides refusing to give in, it does not look like the strike will end anytime soon. In the meantime, there has been a recourse to mediation, but it failed to come to fruition. Patients are hoping the consequences will not be too dire, which is something neither doctors nor the government seem to care about. However, doctors are not the only ones on strike. Joining them are administrative unit workers, judges and prosecutors to some extent, police officers and many other groups in the public sector.

Fast approaching are the EU elections, which politicians are expecting with either optimism or fear about whether things will turn up according to their plans. The right wing, which has been enjoying relative stability in Slovenia, is placing its bets on the anti-migration policy linked to traditional values, such as religion, family and the slowing-down of the green transition.