Anonymous Interviews: IDENTITY – 5.1

5.1 What does being Slovenian in Australia or Slovenian Australian mean to you?

Participant: It means that you’re connected with something somewhere else that’s, I’m just going to sound really awful, that’s more rich than the Australian culture, whatever Australian culture is. I always think that I’m really fortunate to have something that’s very old and steeped in tradition, and that has a noble history. Slovenians have had a difficult past and they are hard working but determined people. I like to know that that’s part of my heritage. It’s a beautiful country and there’s beautiful customs, and I just like knowing that that’s part of me.

Participant: When you involve yourself in this heritage or customs or whatever, it all draws back on your childhood and memories that you had, that your parents… That you’ve got in the back of your mind that you’ve forgotten about. This awakens you when you go back to Slovenia and you get involved. Then suddenly that part… There’s a bell that rings in the back of your head, reactivates. It feels right, it feels comfortable. That’s a good way of putting it.

Participant: I’m very proud of it because Slovenians in Australia we actually got very good names. We’re never tarnish our name with no politics, no scandals or anything, and if you say that you are Slovenian you really say with pride. We are Slovenian. Even my grandkids they love to say that they are, and my little he say “I am little Slovenc.” That’s what it is.

Participant: Being Slovenian here it’s being proud of what we are, what we brought here, what it’s impossible to erase from the history. We identify with the historical part, a little bit political as well. Achievement to Slovenia’s was never easy and they fought so hard for everything they have achieved and contributed to the others. I think we are all Slovenian, very proud of it, the way the Slovenia is fighting and the way it’s establishing itself in the world now with being independent. Even before, the Slovenian history, it’s such a great impact. If you go back to the first democratic election in Gosposvetsko polje, and how the American’s actually took – that was the first democratic election of a leader and that’s actually in the American constitute of independence. My god, imagine, America, country like this taking something from Slovenia, taking the idea, it really have to be something to be proud of.

Participant: I feel like I’ll never be home anywhere again. I feel like I’m not home here because I’m Slovenian, and I’ll never be home in Slovenia because I’m Australian. It’s a weird place in between and I’m trying to find myself. I never thought I would feel this way, to lose yourself, in a way. You’re trying to find your own place and you’re unique, because you have these unique experiences and you do have a much broader life experience. You find yourself hanging out with people with the same sort of mixture. I find myself more closer to people who have experienced two different cultures, lived in different places in the world. It’s a common bond and I would say I’m sort of a world citizen right now. I could live pretty much anywhere which is cultured. What also with Slovenia. We’re so small, there’s not really a strong community in Australia to support you in such. Other communities, other cultures have a lot of support in finding jobs, they help each other a lot. I don’t feel that we have that sort of community that would help you start here and then continue. You’re on your own in a way.

Participant: It means no-one knows where you’re from because no-one knows where Slovenia’s from. [Interviewer: That’s a good thing or a bad thing?] A good thing. No, it’s a bad thing because people don’t know the geography very well. But it’s a good thing because it’s kind of rare which is cool. I like being a bit different. Many people when I talk to them they always think I’m Croatian. [Interviewer: Why?] I think because our food’s so similar. You can’t really distinguish a Slovenian between a Croatian, the looks are quite similar, the appearance is similar.

Participant: It’s really strange because you can’t identify as one or the other. You’re a mix of two. What it means is just that you have a slightly broader life experience than other people have. You’ve experienced more than one culture, so you find it more easy to empathise or see things from other cultures’ perspectives.

Participant: We are here immigrants, so we were not born here. It means that we brought something with us. We can teach or show to others how good is Slovenian food, because it is different than American or Australian or any other. We are just part of the world, part of Australia. We have to adopt this country, live our life, but also share all the best with other nation and other people.

Participant: I’m different from them. I have different experience with different people. I know different backgrounds. A lot of people in Australia they’ve never travelled before. I got a chance to travel and it’s a completely different landscape and everything. [Interviewer: Do you think that it’s good?] Yeah, because when I first came to school, everyone was like “oh hey, how’s Slovenia”, everyone was really interested in it. I think they all know what it is. Some people they’ve never heard of Slovenia before. They’re like “Slovakia, no Slovenia”. They need to know Slovenia because not many people do. [Interviewer: Why do you think that it’s important that they know?] It’s food, people and it’s worth to go and travel there to see how Slovenia looks like.

Participant: Being Slovenian is important to me because my mum is Slovenian, my dad is, all the culture that I’m used to comes from Slovenia. That’s really important to me because a lot of memories have come from there, and I’ve heard a lot of stories about Slovenia. It’s a beautiful country, a beautiful place and it’s important to me because my family still lives there. I like to stay in touch with them as much as I can and not lose that connection between Slovenia.

Participant: It’s just the way I am. It’s not that it specifically means anything from that perspective, but it gives you a different heritage and a different outlook on growing up in Australia with different food, with different language, different ideas and knowing what everyone went through to get here. Its 24 hours to get on a plane now to come here. It seems a long way but in those days it was a month on a ship. To understand what they all went through. They didn’t know what they were going to get when they got here, no-one had a clue and how they’ve up to today worked through that. For me it’s more about a different way of life. I’ve been to Slovenia many times now as well. I understand how they live over there and it’s very different to here, but some of the essential values and cultural side of things isn’t very different to the way we were brought up. From that perspective it’s good to continue that.

Participant: Nothing. Really, nothing. Because I am nothing. But I am something because I know that I’m from Earth, not from Slovenia. This is who I am or what I’m doing here. I’m doing exactly this here what I’m doing in Slovenia. I’ve been in the other continent or other states, I was still me. If I have knowledge about what I must know to survive, to live in comfortable living. It is not about car, Ferraris, not about build two, three floor building house or 10 rooms, 3 bedrooms, 4 bedrooms.

Participant: I am Slovenian and Australian. Both countries are very, very important to me. Separate the two, it just doesn’t happen.

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Next:
5.2 How important for you is to maintain your ethnic identity in a multicultural Australia? 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).