Marijanca Ajša Vižintin
Slovenian in Paris
In the school year 2020/21, Slovenia funded 36 teachers of supplementary Slovenian language classes in Europe. The aim of these classes is for Slovenian emigrants and their children to preserve the Slovenian language and culture, even though they have moved to another country. One of the teachers also teaches in Paris. During the Covid-19, distance learning was used, and this practice continues in Paris after the epidemic. Marijanca Ajša Vižintin met Liza Japelj Carone, editor of the publication Korenine, 2016, posebna številka (The Roots, 2016, special issue). It collects the life stories of Slovenian emigrants to Paris in the second half of the 20th century. They moved from Slovenia (Yugoslavia at that time) as refugees or economic migrants. Some of them were involved in Slovenian associations, others in the Slovenian Catholic parish in Paris or sent their children to supplementary Slovenian lessons. Their life stories are a valuable testimony of Slovenian emigration. She use these stories to raise awareness in (for example in the project We are with others during educational workshops) to confirm that Slovenia is/was not a just a country of immigration, but also a country of emigration.
During the secondment in Paris, she also had the opportunity to listen to a presentation of Slovenian poetry at the Festival of Poetry (Marché de la Poésie) and met Zdenka Štimac, the director of the Slovenian-French books in Paris (Editions franco-slovènes & Cie). Even in the 21st century, Slovenes living in Paris continue to connect and socialise in various ways: in associations, in supplementary Slovenian language classes, in the Slovenian parish, through literature, Facebook and in other ways.
Diversity in public spaces: librairies and museums
Paris is a diverse city, home to people who have migrated from different parts of the world, speak different languages and believe in different gods. I wanted to see whether public spaces such as public libraries and museums reflect that diversity. Marijanca Ajša Vižintin chose one of the public libraries in the 18th arrondissement and visited it several times. She also visited a few museums for the same reasons. The survey showed that the library had many dictionaries in different languages, materials on different religions, and didactic materials for learning French as a second language. There was also a large amount of material available for learning the language for different professions. In the Children's Literature Department, there were some translations of books in various languages. In the adult section, translations into French were available from African countries, from which many immigrants to France come. Adult fiction in the mother tongues of the immigrants was not available. Museums are full of paintings by artists who have found a (temporary) home in France, but their experience of migration is rarely highlighted.
We can highlight in particular the exhibition at the Museum of Migration / Musée de l’histoire de immigration (Palais de la Porte Dorée), which hosted the exhibition “Picasso l’étranger” / “Picasso, the stranger”. The central theme of this exhibition, alongside artworks of Pablo Picasso, was precisely his story as a migrant in France. This exhibition makes an important contribution to overcoming prejudices against immigrants and emphasises that immigrants are people with different skills and experiences and that they can make an important contribution to the development of society and its visibility in the world through their knowledge and activities.