4.1 Do you feel a need to connect with other Slovenian Australians in Australia or with other Slovenians elsewhere? Why do you feel/don’t feel this need?

Participant: The need is there because it gives you a special feeling when you are amongst your people that have come from Slovenia or they have Slovenian origin. Need of course, that’s another question because especially these days with the technology and everything that is available to us. We feel more connected through social media to Slovenia through our interactive connection. It is 50-50%, the needness of being connected with your friends here in Australia because availability through your social media. It gives us lots of opportunity to have that interaction on daily basis. The time that we have it’s also not as much allocated to us as probably in previous generations.

Participant: I used to have a feeling when we first moved to Australia. We sought comfort in connecting with other Slovenians who had the same experience as we did. Now I’ve spread my wings, to speak, I got connected with friends from multiple different nationalities, so I don’t have a very strong need to specifically connect with Slovenians. That might be because my husband’s Slovenian, so I’ve got plenty of that cultural connection at home. It might change over the years, when I have kids. I’ll have a stronger need to have a tighter connection with the Australian community.

Participant: Definitely back in Slovenia because I’ve got family members there, go back there, connect with them. In [a name of the city] we were part of the Slovenian Club. We still go there here and there but not as much as we used to. But connecting with? It’s important to connect with other cultures as well not just Slovenians. If Italians, Croatians, Slovenians, Europeans, everyone connect, like multicultural festivals, that’s important.

Participant: Yes, absolutely. I can’t imagine being here without knowing any Slovenians. Especially the last three years or so I’ve found it really, really comforting to be around other Slovenians. I’ve just gone over that whole experience something different and stuff, and now I’m a little bit homesick. I want to be around Slovenians a little bit more than I was in the first years when I was here, when I didn’t need them at all. Now I really enjoy. Three of my best friends here are Slovenian and they are my closest friends here. It was absolutely a choice of mine, because I feel I’m understood by them, not just language but culturally. I can be myself with them, I don’t have to be overly polite. Culture is what really brings us together and I feel I can be myself with them. It’s absolutely essential and I feel the need to be connecting with Slovenians here.

I also want that. I came here with a Slovenian guy, we were actually married, and we broke up. When I was with him I felt like a part of Slovenia is always with me. I never ever missed the need to have more Slovenians involved in my life because he was there. I spoke Slovenian at home with him and I felt like I’m home. Then we broke up and I was alone for a while. I met an Australian guy and now I never speak Slovenian at home, I feel more homesick than ever. Now I have a child who doesn’t know what Slovenian is, who barely speaks any words. Slovenian, who is typically Australian little child and I want him to have a bit of me, more of my culture and heritage. I’m really working on that recently. Once you have a child you realise “oh my God, my child will be Australian, completely Australian, if I don’t do something”. That’s when you feel the need to teach them more about your heritage and speak Slovenian with them, even though it’s really, really hard when you have a partner who will not be able to participate or help with that. It’s really hard when you’re in an environment which is English then to sort of enforce another language which they won’t need in practical reasons. It’s a challenge and I definitely felt never homesick before when I had a Slovenian partner, but now that I have an Australian partner I have more need to be with Slovenians than before.

Participant: I do because it helps remembering the language, it helps you interact and talk about Slovenia, so it’s important. If you don’t, the culture might be lost. Especially in Australia because it’s so far away from Slovenia. If you don’t talk about it, all the culture’s gone.

Participant: It’s hard to choose between Australia and Slovenia because they both have ups and down and you can’t really choose between either one of them. [Interviewer: And how do you feel when you are connecting with Slovenians. Do you talk with them?] I feel happy because I know that they miss me and I miss them. I want to go back as well, but I want to stay here. So it’s both. [Interviewer: What about Slovenians who are here, who live in Australia. Do you like being a friend with them?] We have a lot of Slovene friends. There’s a Slovene club and it’s good because they have Slovene food there as well.

Participant: I feel that we must connect all to each other, not only Australian to Slovenian or Slovenian to Australia. We lost this feeling about each other, we lost this feeling about connection. We no longer connect because of people who dictating us, who telling us what to do or what to watch or what’s good. How can I live in this world? I cannot express myself because of these people to know everything. But no-one know, “vem, da nič ne vem,” I know that I don’t know anything.

Participant: It’s important. We have several Slovenian friends. It’s more relaxing when you have Slovene friends because you don’t have to speak English. It’s easier, and also for exchanging different, because Slovenia is so diverse, even in culinary from Prekmurje, Primorska, Notranjska regions, it’s such an immense difference in preparing food. It’s really enjoyable to mix those things and to see how it’s done.

Participant: Yes, we are meeting regularly and we are talking about different things. We can’t avoid to talk about the food and drinks and also to try it. This is somehow a good opportunity, I mean the food, Slovenian food, to get together Slovenians, especially if they are living outside their country. Also to taste the different recipes, talk to each other and make new friendships. It’s really a nice opportunity.

Participant: I obviously do. That keeps you in touch with what’s going on in the community, meeting other people and trying to keep everyone connected across Australia, not just in [a name of the city]. So for me it’s a logical step.

Participant: It’s not that I need, because we really have a lot of other friends here. It’s not that many Slovenians and it’s difficult to get together. Now I’m really happy that, especially here in [a name of the city], we had this group of a few young families, and we do get together at least once a year. We all try to have time at that time, and we go different locations so it’s not always the same people driving far away. I made strudel once, then I didn’t do it next time because I was studying and they were all upset. They were all expecting it, so I think from now on it will be always strudel for picnics. It’s nice to see them and talk. [Interviewer: Why?] Maybe because we can talk in Slovenian, that’s for sure, then the same jokes, experiences and all this. For me it’s more that we can laugh and talk in Slovenian. Those people that I met, they were nice, funny, but it’s not because you need them. I don’t like to talk about Slovenia now, and I don’t miss that much, so usually just have jokes about life here. Talking in Slovenian language and have fun, that is what for me is the best part of it.

Participant: Yes, I do. [Interviewer: Why?] That’s a hard question to answer. It’s just like a need.

Participant: Yes, because it’s great to talk about our heritage, being second generation learning from the first generation. They came here and built these communities, they also assimilated very well with other nationalities to make Australia but they always kept their identity. For me that’s what makes me. I like to share that and I like to also ask people about their own heritage because it’s very interesting. If we were all the same it would be boring so that’s why it’s good to have a good conversation like that. You’re sharing different cultural aspects like the cooking and there’s also lots of other things. Other people will be like “oh, okay, I didn’t realise”. It’s just good to have that conversation.

Participant: I’m very much connected with the Slovenian community through the school, through the culture, through the dancing, through the other things. When there’s either festival or special celebration, there is also a cake and other food exhibition and competition. Most of the festivals, they do have the food competition, the cakes and other foods, even bread making. Some ladies they make tremendous rye bread or buckwheat bread. They are so excellent, you could just take the loaves home… Even when I’m in Australia for so many years I still feel that I am a Slovenian. I belong to Slovenian so I am lucky to have two homelands now and I respect them both. They have both contributed a lot to my life, to appreciation of life and the culture of both countries. There are times when I’m all love for Australian things and then something in Slovenia happens, of course I go for Slovenia.

Participant: I know most of the people in [a name of the state] near [a name of the city]. Definitely. Not only know, I know their names too, because I’m here so long. [Interviewer: And you like being with them?] Yes. Because I was always involved with the community and with the people, and my job was involved with the people from all over the world too.

Participant: I really like it when I have that opportunity and it’s a valuable opportunity. I can’t say I’ve actually sought that out because I haven’t had the need to, but when I do get the opportunity I really enjoy that. [Interviewer: You have explained also that you felt very connected when you went to Slovenia. It’s interesting, because you were born here.] Yeah, and you feel that. I had the language before I had English language. That’s more a part who I am, it’s who and what I am. Identity is more tied up with the Slovenian, even though on a day-to-day basis, I am Australian and I live an Australian life. [Husband: But you were only born in Australia, your parents are Slovenians.] They are Slovenians. That cultural part is deeper than what your everyday life is. No matter how surrounded you are by that everyday life, you still retain those early experiences and that influence.

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5 Identity (see Questions and Answers)

See also:
1 Culinary heritage (see Questions and Answers)
2 Growing and sourcing food (see Questions and Answers)
3 Digital technologies for communicating culinary heritage (see Questions and Answers)
4 Connecting with other Slovenian Australians (see Questions and Answers)
5 Identity (see Questions and Answers)
6 Conclusion (participants’ ideas) (see Questions and Answers)

This is a website of a research project exploring digital technologies for communicating the culinary heritage of Slovenian Australians in collaboration with the University of Canberra under the 2015 Endeavour Fellowship Programme (PDR).