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Slovenska stran

SIAE Awards 2012
Lilijana Pahor from Ljubljana

SIAE awards for learning and knowledge promotion 2000

Awards to individuals for outstanding achievements in lifelong learning 

Nevenka Jelen from Šempeter


Ideas born on the conveyor belt

Coming from a large farming family, where education was considered a privilege of the well-to-do, it was a self evident fact that Nevenka Jelen had to get a job straight after primary school. Her first career opportunity opened up at the nearby Pekel Karst cave. She became a tourist guide, but without appropriate knowledge, instruction or training. At the time, tourism was still in its infancy, which meant she had to get to grips with everything herself. She taught herself the secrets of animating and guiding groups; she also read widely to expand her vocabulary and her knowledge of the site she was guiding people around and also to make sure she could communicate in standard Slovenian. As the first foreign visitors began arriving, she also took up German and English, paying her own way, to be able to communicate with them.

Later on, she had a family and her work in the cave was suddenly no longer compatible with her new daily routine. She got a new job in the Polzela sock manufacturer, where her lack of formal educations only gave her the chance of a job on the conveyor belt. She is still employed there: over two million stockings have passed through her hands. The monotony of her workday gave her plenty of time to think. As ideas came to her she would write them down in a notebook which she kept handy at all times. Again and again she would find herself day-dreaming of getting an education, but the hillside village where she lived offered no such opportunity. Well, if something does not exist, you have to create it yourself - she decided and organised the founding of a local committee of the Village Women Society. She began organising seminars, courses, workshops, study groups and more, all in the area of agriculture and tourism, where Nevenka sees opportunities for both herself and her village. Members of the society took up eco-farming, vegetablegrowing, growing and arranging flowers, arranging farmyards, bread and pastry baking, preparing cold-cuts, painting on silk and glass, and other activities.

The women started collecting accounts of the life of previous generations. Each year they organise an ethnological event. This year's event was recorded on video, Kmečko življenje pod lipo (Farm Life under the Linden Tree) or Vaško veselje po starem (Old Fashioned Village Entertainments). The material, diligently edited and prepared by Nevenka Jelen was published last year in a booklet Ponkovška miza ob petkih in svetkih (A Ponikva's table - day in, day out). The first page of this greets the reader with an expressive thought: "One's bitter hours should be written in sand, and the good ones engraved in stone." Wisdom that everyone would do well to consider!

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