Let us first say a few words about the preparatory meeting of the LLW network and Nada
Mrs. Nada called one day and told us that she had found us on the Internet, and that she came to the SIAE for training. She added that she is a grandmother, that she has been retired for several years, but that she is still quite active. She also said that she still likes to learn new things. This time, she was interested in infographics. We told her that this was our common point of interest and invited her to join.
We are very keen on meeting such people who are eager to learn. We work for them, invite and engage them, and we present many of them as role models … all with the aim of us as individuals and society to know more, be able to do more, understand more, experience more, accept and respect one another more, co-create more … “Slovenia, a learning country” has been our motto for 24 years and we firmly believe that it is an achievable one.
Nada was not bored one bit when listening to the final instructions for this year’s learning festival at the preparatory meeting of the LLW network. She was amazed at the joint campaigns that we prepare with our partners, and she was looking forward to the main events of these campaigns that also represented an opportunity for her. She stared in wonder with us when we were learning about effective promotional approaches. Maja gave us a few pointers on how to improve last year’s flyers and invited us to attract and amaze with the help of stories. She gave us plentiful instructions on preparing simple yet effective infographics.
We really like Nada. We took her under our wing and pointed her to the multi-generational centre that has started working on the floor below us not so long ago. Later, she happily attended another one of our events. We will extend our invitation to her again as her enthusiasm and engagement at the venerable age of 82 are a true inspiration.
And now let us say a few words about Dušica.
Dušica got us under her spell with her stories on Slovenian folk traditions and how they are featured in the visual identity of the LLW. We were enraptured listening to her, and the few minutes she was accorded went by much too quickly. At the main event of the joint campaign entitled Heritage of the Past is the Dowry of the Future, she shone bright and even led us all in a song. Our roots mean a great deal to us as it turns out, and we simultaneously learn to think and act globally.
And what did Patricija, Alenka, Urša, Jasmina, Jan and Damjan have to say at our meeting?
Patricija invited us to the main event of the campaign We Are One World focused on global learning. Alenka mentioned the festival that took place in parallel with the campaign, i.e. Intergenerational Coexistence Day. The festival hosted the panel entitled How to Proceed? Lifelong Learning, Preparations for Retirement and Active Ageing, which was the central event of the campaign entitled Day of the Elderly – Vigorous, Healthy, Informed and Active. Urša presented the 4-year consultation of the Slovenian Third Age University on the silver economy entitled Learning, Connecting, Acting as Part of This Happy Learning Day campaign. Jasmina sparked our interest in the Quality Is Created by All of Us campaign, within the scope of which the members of the network of quality counsellors and others carried out a number of interesting events. Jan sealed our partnership with the Week of Amateur Art as we will continue the Learning and Culture Hand in Hand campaign. The main event of this campaign was Movement Makes the Man. Damjan invited us to Lisca nad Sevnico where the main event of the Mountaineering as A Way of Life – For an Inclusive Society campaign will be held.
We must, of course, mention the Power and Joy of Learning campaign, the main event of which was the press conference presenting the Slovenian version of the Manifesto for Adult Learning in the 21st Century and Learning Parade – Learning Communities Day. It was loud and colourful, but mainly interesting and inclusive.
From Kranj, to the numerous venues of the Learning Parade and other corners of Slovenia.
At 11 am on 10 May, we held the opening ceremony of the 2019 Lifelong Learning Week . This year’s national opening again reflected the inclusion of all generations in lifelong learning and supported the honouring of five new winners of the awards for the promotion of adult learning and knowledge. After the opening, themed trails presented the city of Kranj where the opening took place from various points of view.
We have already seen 17 versions of the Learning Parade – Day of Learning Communities as well as the majority of the main events of nine joint campaigns of this year’s LLW and many other events. There were nearly 1,800 event organisers and more than 7,000 events – these are the figures of this year’s LLW. We are gathering impressions, photographs, videos, and publications in various media … Social networks – mainly FB and increasingly Twitter, and still rather timidly, Instagram – are connecting us, supporting us and addressing the broadest circle of the general public as no other medium has to date.
We will write more about LLW 2019, mostly in the following edition. A successful learning experience lies in the boundary between “teacher” and “student” becoming increasingly blurred and in both cases, enriching one another which is why we will publish the experiences of different individuals and institutions. Below, we provide a few experiences as a teaser of what is to come.
When are we good enough, perhaps the best? Not so much for others, but for ourselves?
Foreign guests have been visiting us at the start of the learning festival in recent years. The Slovenian LLW is an event with tradition, continuity, a solid structure in the background and boldness in the forefront. This is undoubtedly based on the synergy of partners. Visitors from abroad are amazed by the network of coordinators who act as the extended arm of the national coordinator, the SIAE, and also receive moral and financial support of the MESS. People elsewhere often wish they had something similar to this.
We are especially proud to present our participants, recipients of the SIAE awards and others to them, which is why we invite these people to all of the professional meetings with foreign partners. This year’s seminar with six Welsh participants was attended by Marija and Darja. They shared their life stories with us and their joyful characters prove that they stood by their words. I have known them for quite some time, and am always happy to see them and have the utmost respect for them. What got my attention this time was their sincere unease that they expressed openly saying: “… I am nothing special, I have not achieved anything outstanding, I wouldn’t say I am as good as you are making me out to be…”.
And that is when I asked myself what are the criteria determining whether and when one is good (enough)? As of late, I have become a staunch supporter of the simple answer to this question that all of us are faced with throughout our lives, namely: when you are satisfied with yourself and happy. For a more scientific explanation, I will borrow from the philosopher Jose Ortega y Gasset (1883–1955) who differentiates between the mass-man, for whom living is to be every moment what they already are, without imposing on themselves any effort towards perfection, from the noble man who is created for a hardworking life and is always trying to outdo himself. Marija and Darja are therefore most noble in my eyes.
When Learning Shapes (a New) Identity
The team of Welsh participants included two learners. This was unsurprising as it was from them that we learned about highlighting success stories in 1995, i.e. from NIACE with Alan Tuckett at the helm. The institution was renamed to Learning and Work Institute, but the voice of the learners remains a key component of the advocacy side of the campaign at their festival as well.
Emily and Scott spoke of the obstacles they had experienced on their journey. I could identify with some of their experiences, while I was thankful for the advantages I had from birth when it came to some of the other experiences they had. The following Scott’s words touched me: “I was in prison eight times and learning was what felt best each time I was there. When I returned to normal life the last time, I thought that learning could enable me to build a new identity instead of having to patch up the old one.” Scott was an addict, a delinquent …, but now he is an adult education teacher. He radiates nobility and you can feel that this nobility was hard-won.
And who are you?
Mirjana Debelak, this year’s winner of the SIAE award (her inspiring story is described in another article, and her guest entered before the start of the press conference upon the opening of the LLW in Kranj. We chatted about the weather and the journalists who were nowhere to be seen, about Mirjana’s numerous participants who appeared in her video presentation and who were now pouring into the Summer Theatre Khislstein … And then something stirred in me and I had to approach the silent guest and ask: “And who are you?” – “I’m Marija – mother of eight, wife, farmer, participant at Mirjana’s education courses…”
What spoke to me more than the words themselves was the modesty and grandeur that burned in the background and could not be missed. Especially not when she later took the stage at the opening and expressed her gratitude to her teacher. Perhaps it is gratitude in addition to the aforementioned happiness that is important for one to be good and excellent.
I have met quite a few people over the course of 24 years of the LLW and especially over these two weeks who convinced me with their zeal. They deserve even more of our attention, gratitude, further encouragement … So that there are even more such noble stories and for them to change the mode of thought, invite and encourage the building of new identities and thus nurture the culture of lifelong learning.
There is no doubt – learning empowers and makes us happy!
Zvonka Pangerc Pahernik, MSc (Zvonka.firstname.lastname@example.org), SIAE