Julia Molden hails the long awaited, but now imminent, Croatian Language School annual language and culture study trip to Rijeka, Lovran and the surrounding area; a fascinating tale of its genesis and gestation!
It all started a whole two years ago when the advance party of Linda, John and I travelled out to Lovran to meet Sarah and Leo and put our heads together to work out another stunning Croatian Language School summer gathering to coincide with Rijeka’s celebrations as European City of Culture in 2020. So full of excitement and hope were we as we visited various locations in Rijeka, Lovran and the surrounding areas, which Linda had selected for inclusion in our comprehensive excursion programme. By the time we left at the end of our allotted few days, we had selected the summer study trip home for the week, as well as a good array of restaurants and we had gone a long way towards finalising our fascinating excursion programme.
We had met with local guides and tour operators and ventured off the main tourist track to seek authentic experiences for our participating students. On the slopes of Mount Učka, to the north west of Rijeka, we met an enclave of people with their own culture, songs and Istro-Romanian language, whose head honcho bore the seemingly incongruous name Elvis. We have since learned that speakers of this endangered language have been invited to join researchers from the Oxford University Faculty of Linguistics, Philology and Phonetics to help them in their efforts to translate and understand sound recordings made in the 1960s during field research in the very area we were visiting. www.croatiaweek.com/istro-romanian-language-speakers-to-join-oxford-university-research-project/
We had a really illuminating and interesting week worked out and were receiving very positive feedback about our plans from interested students, who were all gearing up to join the summer trip in June 2020. And then in early spring we all know what happened.
Since then a kind of Sleeping Beauty silence descended over all of our plans. 2020 came and went in lockdown and this dragged on into 2021, which knocked everyone’s confidence for our original plan of simply delaying by a year and reconvening in June 2021. At long last the combined effects of the vaccination programme and testing are finally opening up travel again and so, next month, a few diehards have signed up to join a very much smaller, much delayed gathering when we, together with Rijeka 2020, will try to reinvent some of the grandiose plans of last summer which had come crashing down.
On 11th September the hardy few will gather in Lovran for a week of language practice and cultural excursions heavily peppered with a lot of the kind of holiday fun that we have all been sadly deprived of over the past eighteen months. We still have a full excursion programme and certainly we still have our eyes on sampling, not only the restaurants we shortlisted during our trial run of two years ago, but also a whole host of others which will give us sustenance during our excursions. They delight in inviting names such as ‘Vagabonds’ Hut’ and ‘Blacksmith’s Forge’ and I feel sure they won’t disappoint.
We will be sending regular blogs to let you know how everything is going in our first tentative steps into post-pandemic study trips and hope to re-enthuse our students in time for the Annual Language and Culture Study Trip 2022 which will be based on the islands of Vis and Lastovo with all their rich history, tradition and culture. It may come as no surprise that planning for this trip is already underway!