Sandi Horvat is a young Slovenian journalist and broadcaster who recently attended the REYN training in Leiden, the Netherlands. These are his reflections of the experience.
From 8th to 10th June I had the opportunity to participate in “Creating Opportunities for Success – Multilingual Learning Environments for Romani Children”, which took place in Leiden, the Netherlands. As a young Roma I mainly work as Romani journalist for Slovenian national television and radio (Romani program »So vakeres?« and »Amare Droma«) and also as a Romani activist within Roma Acadamic Club. The work I do, within our NGO, basically brought me to Leiden. For the past six years I’ve worked as practitioner in several Romani settlements in our region of Slovena, offered teaching assistance to children, prepared creational and motivational workshops for children (aged from preschool to high school), helped to organize and carry out summer camps.
As a educated young Roma with B.A. in social sciences, in a way, I feel obligated to stand up for our children, who still in some cases don’t have a voice of their own. Growing-up outside of Romani settlements and with the motivation from my parents I had the possibility to be included in quality preschool education, that built the neccessary foundation, on which my strong personality was formed later on.
Each year I tend to participate in at least two international trainings, study visits, seminars or youth exchanges. This helps me to widen my horizon and knowledge about our culture and our nation. By participating in the Leiden training, not only did I get the wonderful opportunity to meet new friends from across the Europe, who work with Romani children every day, but also gained a lot of new knowledge and approaches how to work with Romani children. One of the trainers, Dawn Tankersley, showed us several ways how to be more engaged with our youngest in preschoolers. This kind of information was really important and helpful to me because I work with children in a settlement and not as an educator in preschool. The other trainer was Samanta Baranja, who happens to be one my best friends in Slovenia, and thanks to her I already know so much about Romani language but this time she took it to another level. By interacting with and forming discussions with all the participants about Romani language I learned so much more about the different dialects in other countries. It was very interesting to hear other dialects, and was pretty surprised by how much Romani is still unexplored.
But most of all, I really have to thank ISSA and REYN who organised such a great program. I also fell in love with Leiden and the venue where our activites took place – het Kinderrechten Huis or Child Rights Home. Combined it made our work even more meaningful. This way all of our work and effort in our daily work just got more motivation, strength, and validation that we really are on the right path.
I left Leiden overjoyed and knowing that all my expectations were exceeded. Saying THANK YOU doesn’t even come close to how grateful I am for this experience. Hopefully it will not be too long before we will all reunite in the magical city of Leiden.