Spomenak, published to mark the School’s 20th anniversary, was presented by professor Dragutin Rosandić, senior lecturer Lidija Cvikić and editor Lada Kanajet Šimić. To date 1,080 children from thirty-three European and overseas countries and sixty specialist instructors of various profiles have participated in the Little School of Croatian Language and Culture.

Spomenak, a monograph on the Little School of Croatian Language and Culture was presented at the Matis Club in the CHF building in Zagreb October 29th. Spomenak, published to mark the 20th anniversary of the Little School, was presented, following words of welcome from CHF director Marin Knezović, by professor Dragutin Rosandić, senior lecturer Lidija Cvikić and editor Lada Kanajet Šimić. Teacher Pavao Jerolimov was also on hand to speak on behalf of the instructors at the Little School. The event was superbly moderated by Vesna Kukavica, head of the CHF publishing department.
Professor Dragutin Rosandić is a prominent Croatian researcher and expert in Croatian language and literature methodology, the founder of the first chair of methodology studies at the University of Zagreb and the author of numerous textbooks and specialist tomes. He is a promoter of the instruction and study of the Croatian language abroad and held a lecture course on Croatian language methodology at the Malmö Teacher’s Academy. Lidija Cvikić is a senior lecturer at the University of Zagreb’s Faculty of Teacher Education and one of the authors of HiT-1, the first university on-line course for Croatian as a foreign language. She has also previously worked as an instructor at the Little School.
The specialist articles in the monograph, which, of course, also contains numerous illustrations and the unrevised creative writing work of children who participated in the Little School, were penned by the workshop leaders. In his foreword, professor Rosandić writes, “Spomenak contains all the elements of the educational curriculum that relates to the instruction and learning of Croatian language and culture (as a hereditary language) in migratory conditions.”
In her article, senior lecturer Lidija Cvikić notes that, “Instruction at the Little School shows that the latest classroom equipment, the Internet and colourful books are not prerequisites of successful learning – an excellent teacher, interested pupils and a lot of good will are. The Little School has all that and much more.”
The presentation opened with a PowerPoint presentation created by the Little School’s long-time head Igor Matijašić. The presentation offered an up-close look at this exceptional school, in which learning goes primarily through the heart, to the audience, including friends of the CHF, representatives of the State Office for Croatians Abroad, ministries, culture institutions and Croatian language teachers and instructors in Germany. The presentations made by experts confirmed that the Little School would not have been a success as long as it has without the enthusiasm of the organisers and instructors, whom the children have recognised, supported and followed. Some – from America, Austria and Italy to mention a few of the countries participants have come from – featured in the videos have been in Novi Vinodolski several times. Others will come next year, some have grown up, and yet others will be there for the first time. In short, the CHF Little School will continue to gather children for learning.
“The future programme of the Little School does not cover only Croatian language instruction – it also includes many other elements of Croatian cultural identity. The workshop form allows for a correlation between all of these components, while the interactive approach to learning provides a freedom of expression and improvisation, encouraging to all participants regardless of their level of Croatian language proficiency,” noted the volume’s editor Kanajet Šimić.
The Little School, a traditional and on-going CHF project, is the only programme of its kind targeted to children of Croatian background with the goal of – through various workshops, play, entertainment, socialising and interaction – preserving linguistic and cultural identity. It is targeted to children aged from 9 to 16 who live and are receiving their education abroad with the core mission of advancing their knowledge of the Croatian language and offering insight into the cultural and natural heritage of Croatia and the region in which they are staying. To date 1,080 children from thirty-three European and overseas countries and sixty specialist instructors of various profiles have participated in the Little School of Croatian Language and Culture.
Without a doubt the credit for launching the Little School goes to the late Silvija Letica, long-time head of CHF education and culture programmes who in 1993 – encouraged by the excellent results of the University School of Croatian Language and Culture – organised the first summer programme targeted to children living and receiving their education abroad. The language programmes were later assumed by Lada Kanajet Šimić, who has, along with the classic forms, affirmed new content based on information and communication technologies in classroom instruction.

Text by: Diana Šimurina-Šoufek; Photos: Snježana Radoš