It was a presentation of two generations from a deserving and culturally active Croatian emigrant family in the USA. Grandmother Nasja, a Croatian language teacher, poet and prominent member of the Croatian Diaspora community, has for many years now spent a part of the year living in Split and her sixteen year old granddaughter Nasja has now come to live with her grandmother to improve her Croatian.
The evening of poetry featuring Nasja Bošković Meyer and Nasja Wickerhauser organised by the Split branch office of the CHF and the Marko Marulić municipal library on the 10th of April was a fascinating and unique culture event. It was a presentation of two generations from a deserving and culturally active Croatian emigrant family in the USA. Grandmother Nasja, a Croatian language teacher, poet and prominent member of the Croatian Diaspora community, has for many years now spent a part of the year living in Split, and now her sixteen year old granddaughter Nasja has come to live with her grandmother to improve her Croatian. Since they both write poetry – the grandmother in Croatian and the granddaughter in English – they decided to join forces in a presentation for Split audiences. The evening of poetry was opened with a welcome speech from the head of the Split branch office of the CHF Branka Bezić Filipović. Nasja Bošković Meyer was born in Split, where she completed elementary and secondary school before moving on to study at the University of Zagreb’s Faculty of the Humanities and Social Sciences. After marrying in 1963 she moved to St. Louis, Missouri in the United States of America.
In spite of her many family obligations she succeeded in graduating linguistics, Spanish and Russian at Missouri State University in St. Louis. For over thirty-five years she has taught Croatia language and culture at St Louis Community College and has worked as a translator and court appointed interpreter. She has received many high decorations for her dedicated work – during the Homeland War for independence she, her husband and a group of prominent American Croatians founded the American Croatian Relief Project, which became the leading group in the USA providing assistance for Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina and collected over eight million dollars in aid in money, food and medicine.
The Meyer family regularly published texts in support of Croatia in the daily media and Nasja herself staged a number of public presentations on the subject of the war waged against Croatia. Together with her daughter Dr Jasna Meyer, Nasja Meyer published the textbook Croatia—Hrvatska / The Country and the Language, deemed by many to be the best Croatian language textbook ever printed in the Diaspora.
From her early childhood Nasja Meyer wrote poetry and her work has been published in the magazine Vidik. She has appeared at the Youth Round Table and on Radio Split and has received numerous prizes for her poetry. In America her poetry has been published in student magazines and various Croatian language publications such as the CFU’s Zajedničar. In the homeland her work has been published in many respected literary journals. She has published two collections of poetry: the first, Nagnuta nad morem (Leaning Over the Sea), was published by Logos of Split in 1985, and the second, Pet rubina crvenih (Five Red Rubies) was published by Naklada Bošković in 2012. She is a member of the Croatian Lyricism Abroad poetry association – an association of poets who live outside Croatia but write in the Croatian language.
All of the children of Nasja and the late physician Dr Joseph Arthur Meyer – university professor Dr Jasna Meyer and diplomat Dr Mato Meyer, live abroad, but speak and write Croatian fluently because, besides learning at home, they also learned Croatian for one year in secondary school and for one year at the University of Zagreb. Nasja Meyer has eight grandchildren, five of whom speak Croatian.
Nasja Zdenka Wickerhauser, Nasja’s oldest granddaughter, is sixteen years old and a second year pupil of the Kraljica Jelena private gymnasium in Split. It was with great joy that she came to Split to improve her knowledge of the Croatian language, which she learned at home. She too, like her grandmother, has written poetry since her earliest childhood. In the United States of America she is an excellent pupil attending the gifted children’s class at St. Louis’ Clayton High School. She dances, sings and plays the tamburitza in the local youth tamburitza ensemble.
At a time when our youth continues to leave the homeland an example such as this one, of a girl from America that has returned to the hometown of her grandmother to improve her Croatian, is certainly a point of light in Croatian reality. We hope to see many more such examples in the future.
Text by: Branka Bezić Filipović