Approximately 80,000 Slovaks live in Italy. Most of their children grow up in Slovak-Italian mixed families, and therefore, their contact with their parents’ homeland gradually fades away. To help children get closer to Slovak culture, traditions, and especially the Slovak language, Pipex Italia and our parent company Železiarne Podbrezová have decided to support the establishment of a Slovak school during the weekends and a nursery.
The Slovak school and nursery in Milan are the only ones of their kind in Italy. The idea to open them came from Slovak mothers who wanted their children to maintain a connection with their “second homeland” and be able to communicate, for example, with their grandparents in the Slovak language.
The educational process takes an alternative form with the help of fairy tales, books, magazines, music, and teaching materials that the children create themselves. “We have 39 children between the ages of 2 and 14. Each class has 6 to 8 students per teacher, and the children are divided based on their level of communication. Our nursery is a strong point, as it has the most children and two teachers. We affectionately call it ‘The class of our future.’ Teaching is generally playful and alternative, and we even have a singing group, which is also a means to get closer to the Slovak language. Our Slovak children’s library is also growing very well, thanks to Slovak families and teachers,” said Veronika Bella, the director of the weekend school and nursery, who also works at the Honorary General Slovak Consulate in Milan.
Recently, even Italian parents interested in the Slovak language have joined the children at school. The weekend school is open on alternate weekends and celebrates all the typical Slovak holidays that are not celebrated in Italy, such as St. Nicholas Day or Children’s Day. The latter was celebrated on May 27th, coinciding with the end of the school year, with a picnic attended by 170 people who enjoyed not only fun and Slovak food but also traditional Slovak snacks provided by Železiarne Podbrezová along with beverages. Thanks to ŽP, the children and their parents from all over the northern region of Italy were able to savor, even if only for a day, the sweetness of their parents’ homeland.
The original idea to celebrate Children’s Day in Italy was born in 2018. From the original five families, the number grew to fifty people in just two weeks, a number that was impossible for the weekend school and the director alone to handle. “I asked for help from the general manager of Pipex Italia – Mr. Luigi Cuzzolin, who is also the Honorary General Consul of the Slovak Republic in Milan. A year later, I also approached the sales director of ŽP, Mr. Vladimír Soták Jr., who was very helpful, and Železiarne Podbrezová prepared packages for the children for St. Nicholas Day. Since then, they have become regular sponsors of Children’s Day. On behalf of all the families, I want to thank Železiarne Podbrezová and Pipex Italia for being part of our children’s celebrations for several years” added Veronika Bella.
Projects and collaborations like these demonstrate that no matter where you are in the world, a part of your heart always belongs to the country where you grew up.
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