Study circles in Slovenia operate under the auspices of the SIAE. This form of community learning is based on personal contact. We therefore strengthened mutual communication while the quarantine was in effect. Mentors were happy to receive recommendations and tools, and our conversations revealed amazing resourcefulness in facing the unusual conditions. Maintaining contact between members while quarantinig was impossible so we resorted to resolve administrative and similar issues. Mentors presented their experience so as to encourage others to adopt a different approach to learning.
In Rogaška Slatina, they endeavoured to adapt to the knowledge and capabilities of individuals. They maintained contacts with learners via various applications such as Skype and Zoom. They also used the telephone and adapted to the options and needs of the learners. The message from Istria was that meetings are conducted via Skype, with the final meeting scheduled to take place upon the publication of the collection of papers.
In Pivka, they also stayed in touch via social networks and e-mail. They thus offered support to one another and continued to believe that they are able to look at the situation in a positive light. They are inviting everyone to take a look at the photographs on the FB profile of Marjeta Marinčič and to share their opinion with everyone there.
Four circles are underway in Murska Sobota. The content of the study circle relating to the tradition, experience and ideas of the participants relating to self-sufficiency is awaiting the warmer days of spring. In the meantime, the diverse group, which began work just before isolation, prepared topics such as the garden, wild herb and mushroom picking, processing and cooking. They solved the lock-down by connecting via e-mail. They collected photos, the mentors wrote motivational letters and encouraged the participants to exchange recipes suitable for restoration. They also used materials from other circles that are available on the website (in Slovenian).
I am actually truly grateful for this serious challenge. Everything we took for granted up to this point was now put to the test. Including education. Luckily, mentors are versed in adapting quickly to new situations. In the search for the options for continued work in education, we are occasionally positively surprised and uplifted by an initiative that does not come from institutions but rather from the people in the community. This also happened in this case. Local artists were addressed by Mrs. Čelan, member of the study circle and fine art teacher, who invited us to create under the common and still working title of Spring 2020. Her wish is to bring to bear various fine art forms and techniques to link current issues such as the virus, isolation, relations and global change with intimate impressions. A large number of artists who could fill up a study circle responded and I, as a mentor, am trying to attract young artists from Postojna. Learning therefore also takes place outside institutions which is where it actually began. This is proof that study circles are truly the form of learning that survives in times of crises.
At reading study circle Škofja Loka, they prepared humorous photobook that shows the power of imagination when reading books.
At Cerklje and Smlednik, they tried to write to their members occasionally, but the study circles there could not be conducted remotely. This is why they prepared reports and collected and read literature. Mrs. Danijela Močnik read and edited documents, books and publications from the family library. Nearly a hundred years worth of materials have been pushed into the dusty corners by relocations and daily routine. Chiming in, she recommended reading the Trees and Humans book by Rudi Beiser, which reminds her of youth. That was the time when she – as a young girl – would go into the forest with her father. There was much to cut down, clean up the brush, make twig bundles, and take everything home on a cart full of litter to be strewn for the livestock, rabbits and a kitty. This did not last long as land was nationalised so that her parents lost everything and had to move from the countryside into the city. She was however left with lasting memories.
At Makole, they organised a poetry study circle this year that brings together both renowned and unknown female poets. They invited them via FB and in person. Ladies of various ages and professions applied. They bring amazing diversity to the table on account of their different styles of writing. After a few initial meetings, they were faced with isolation. They did not give up, formed a group on the social network and made it work. They were joined by a gentleman who promised to take care of the publication of the book. They keep regular contact, even on a daily basis. Poems, encouragement and life stories are proof of the Jim Rohn quote “If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse”.
Dr Nevenka Bogataj (email@example.com), SIAE