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where am I?

So here I am in beautiful downtown Ljubljana, mildly jetlagged after a day of travel and a day of presentations. Slovenia is a small country worried about preserving its culture because it is surrounded by large and powerful neighbours. Kids are force-fed Slovenian literature and politics in school. Sounds familiar to a Canadian. But - so different from us - they seem to lap it up! My kids all complained about the Struggle For Responsible Government, that hardy perreniel of the Canadian curriculum. And I sympathized. Hey, I was sick of it thirty years ago. But here everyone seems to revel in their struggle for freedom, independence, self-government. One of the schools I visited today had a Richard Scrimger Day, and there were songs and dances in traditional Slovenian costume. And the kids were smiling. They must have heard this stuff a thousand times but it was still fresh.

Yes, they watch South Park and Simpsons and Family Guy. And their jokes reflect it. They are part of the world American culture. But they are Slovenian too, proud relicts of the old Austro-Hungarian empire. They listen to Blink 182, but they also listen to something called Turbo-folk (imagine oom-pah-pah with a Euro-pop chaser. That's it in the picture -- scary, huh?) And one of the TV channels seems to show indoor soccer 24/7.

Sounds crazy but I tell you I'm getting hooked.


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