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SIAE Awards 2008
Nuša Ilovar of Žalec

SIAE awards for learning and knowledge promotion 2005

Awards to groups for outstanding achievements in lifelong learning 

Ivan Grbec Cultural Society from Škedenj near Trieste

(Head of group: Luisa Primossi Primožič)
Proposer: Beseda slovenske Istre Cultural Society


"I regard the special feature of this society as being its surprisingly broad range of activities, which are devoted to youth and children, so that they can be aware of their roots, and to all those that have gone through life with this awareness. At the same time this can serve as a model for many of our societies, when they open their door to their neighbours who speak a different language ... with the pride of a big-hearted host and the understanding of a good neighbour." (Miroslav Košuta, writer from Trieste)

The Ivan Grbec Cultural Society operates in an environment that has at many times been unfavourable for Slovenians. Škedenj, once a completely Slovenian village, is now part of the Trieste suburbs, with a majority Italian population. Despite this, societies are still thriving, and these help the members preserve their Slovenian roots and have a beneficial effect on the self-image of the local Slovenian community. The soul of the society is its working committee, which - through a large amount of voluntary work - enables it to carry out a cultural, social and educational programme and to maintain society premises. These premises house the society's own library, with publications in both local languages. The music room is the location for the regular rehearsals of the Ivan Grbec Women's Choir, and the central Trieste music school also offers lessons. And Slovenian artists have their own exhibition space here, while literary evenings are held in the main hall, where there are occasionally book presentations, celebrations and society meetings. The society is involved in a wealth of journalistic and educational activities. Society members research the past, collect data on distinguished people of Škedenj and publish thematic books on their life and work (Ksenija Vidali, The Figure and Life of Ivan Grbec, The Reading Room in Škedenj 1868-1968 and more). They hold regular Slovenian language courses, and for some years now they have maintained a course in making the local folk costume, given by Marta Košuta. She says that folk costume has been preserved here for an especially long time, because it is an expression of Slovenian originality. The yoga and clay modelling classes are now very popular, and the library awaits the arrival of computers, with which members will learn modern communication skills this autumn. The openness of the society to the local environment, and its willingness for dialogue and creative co-existence are demonstrated in the fact that local residents from the Italian community are also welcome to use the library, members of the Italian community sing in the choir, Italian residents are enrolled in Slovenian language courses, and they are also invited to all the society's public events. Miroslav Košuta stresses another special feature of the society, which he sees in the "hint of the Slovenian matriarchy, since almost everything depends on mothers and wives." His notion is backed up by the president of the society, Luisa Primossi Primožič: "Women are the heart of the society, although there are also some men who help out. We women seek those activities that bring people together. For Christmas we hold a fair, where we bring our hand-made products and sell them to get money for the operation of the society. And we also look to each other in managing our activities."

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