This week, we take a look at the latest edition of the Croatian Emigrant Almanac; in a piece originally put together by the Voice of Croatia’s Ivana Perkovac and Antonija Tomičić.
This multi-purpose serial publication put together by the Croatian Heritage Foundation analytically follows the social and cultural activities of the Croatian nation in the homeland and abroad and is available in Croatian, English, and Spanish.
The Croatian Emigrant Almanac of 2019 includes eight thematic sections: Signs of the Times, Croatian Philological Horizons, Bridges, Heritage, a History, Spirituality, Science, and New Books. With this almanac, the Croatian Heritage Foundation endeavors to, first and foremost, encourage cultural exchange between the Croatian emigration communities and the homeland. And by making it available in three languages, the almanac bridges the language barrier by making it accessible to people of Croatian extraction living in some fifty countries across the globe that no longer use the Croatian language on a daily basis, but rather that of their adopted country.
That being said, language plays a huge role in national identity and Croatian communities around the world identify strongly with the language of the homeland. And in conjunction with the five-year anniversary of the Croatian language joining the pantheon of official European Union languages, contributing experts to the almanac discuss the importance of language as a fundamental symbol of Croatian identity and as a unifying factor for communities around the world.
“Two chapters deal with Croatians living in North America - specifically the United States of America - where, according to most studies, some two million people of Croatian descent currently live. Over the past ten to fifteen years, there has been a noticeable increase in the literary output of Croatians living across the USA. At the same time, the themes and motivation behind their works are more compatible with their Croatian homeland rather than the states in which they live and work. It is for this reason that I firmly believe this obliges us, or at least allows us, to consider these to be works of Croatian literature. I also believe that, in modern times, the definition of ethnic identity mustn’t be exclusive but rather open and flexible. Someone can be a Croatian and an American writer at the same time,” said Milan Bošnjak from the Central State Office for Croats Abroad.
The Emigrant Almanac is a kind of tangible institution, a written reminder, a yearbook of sorts, which has its place of pride on the shelves of homes and libraries alike, regardless of the ubiquitous availability of electronic communication, according to communications expert at the faculty of Political Science, Božo Skoko.
“In this way, more so than any other similar publication, this almanac successfully unites the past, present, and future of Croatian emigrant communities and their special connection to the homeland. Croatian literary giants and their works help to build modern bridges of communication between the homeland and emigrant communities around the world by emphasizing the importance of maintaining the Croatian language and culture. Furthermore, they provide an insight into the future of the modern emigrant community, including their integration and assimilation in their adopted countries, as well as awakening a passion within young Croats born and raised in different countries around the world for the country of their roots, and for the modern Croatian state, a country of challenges but also great potential,” said Skoko.
This publication successfully brings together leading intellectuals from the homeland and the world who talk about what is being done to preserve and promote Croatian identity within the country and abroad. These experts discuss the current emigration trends of young Croats seeking opportunities abroad, and about where Croatia should be in the future.
Perseverance, faith, devotion, unity, and maintaining high standards of excellence, is a recipe that can be applied in all areas of human activity, according to Skoko.
“I especially wanted to draw attention to the innovation and creativity coming out of Croatia,” he said. “The country might be flying under the radar of media and public attention, but it is definitely a fact that many of our contemporaries from public life, whether they be from the homeland or the diaspora, are firmly part of the elite of world science, art, and innovation in various areas of humanity. That is why I tried to show the very best that Croatians gave to the world in the past year.”
Croatians are not simply resting on the laurels of past geniuses like Vrančić, Tesla, Bošković, or Penkala. This can be seen in Croatia’s ranking among the top fifty countries in the world according to the Global Innovation Index. The best contemporary example is Rimac Automobili. This company proves that knowledge, originality, and ingenuity cannot remain unnoticed, despite operating far from the traditional global centers of technology.
In order to better connect Croatian innovators and entrepreneurs from all over the world, the Central State Office for Croats Abroad has launched a pilot project for a digital database and communication network called the Registry of Croatian Entities Abroad.
Vesna Kukavica, the editor of the almanac, discussed and evaluated the success of the project, so far, and the role of the Central State Office for Croats Abroad in integrating the three-million-strong Croatian diaspora community.
“The almanac contains data that shows that every year people with Croatian heritage from around the world apply to and receive funding from the Croatian state for around 580 different projects,” said Kukavica.
In cooperation with the Philosophy Department at the University of Zagreb, the Central State Office launched a free online Croatian language course which has attracted some 1,500 users around the world.
“For our loyal readers, as well as those who pick up a copy for the first time, the Croatian Emigrant Almanac is an excellent source of information, and also pride and unity among Croatian communities. Even the photo on the cover of the almanac speaks volumes and communicates directly with our community,” explained the head of the Central State Office, Zvonko Milas.
“We can rightly say that this serial publication has produced over 28,000 pages of material written by over 300 of the best Croatian writers and researches from around the world,” said Kukavica. “I strongly recommend that you leaf through this year’s almanac and see for yourself who are the most prominent figures of Croatian literature, business, faith, and those on the cutting edge of science around the world. They, each from their own area of expertise, show us what is necessary to find the strength and inspiration to not just leave the homeland in search of greener pastures but to stay in Croatia and build a sustainable future. And for those who have already left, to show them how to gain new experiences from around the world so that one day they can come back to the homeland with their acquired knowledge and experience and develop our modern Republic of Croatia.”
Next year, Croatia will have the opportunity to show Europe and the rest of the world how modern and developed it has become when they assume the presidency of the European Union.
I'm Nikola Badovinac, please be sure to check out the other stories we have prepared on our website.
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