Slovenian diaspora meeting in Brežice
Brežice, 16 June - Hundreds of members of the Slovenian diaspora from a dozen countries converged on Brežice on Saturday for the eighth annual Welcome Home, a gathering that is as much a cultural event as it is an opportunity for emigrants to reconnect with their roots.
Sponsored by the Government Office for Slovenians Abroad, Welcome Home is featuring exhibitions, performances by cultural associations of Slovenians living abroad, a hip-hop concert, stand-up comedy and cinematic shows.
A total of about 400 performers and about 500 visitors are taking part in the gathering that will continue late into the night.
The main event at Brežice Castle in the afternoon was addressed by outgoing Minister for Slovenians abroad Gorazd Žmavc, who called the gathering a festival of Slovenianhood.
The goal is "to raise awareness of local communities about the size and importance" of the Slovenian diaspora abroad. "Them and you make Slovenia much bigger than otherwise," Žmavc said.
He said that the aspirations and the pride of Slovenians living outside the homeland inspired "hope and positive energy" in Slovenians who live in Slovenia proper.
He thanked the diaspora and Slovenian minorities in the neighbouring countries for their "priceless contribution to the preservation of the Slovenian cultural heritage everywhere in Europe and the world where they made their homes".
Local tourism and cultural associations showed the guests Brežice and the surrounding area.
The event "brings Slovenians together in song and spoken word," affirms ties and preserves Slovenian identity, the Government Office for Slovenians Abroad has said.