2017 ACAP Conference – Bridging the gap: Opportunities and Connections for Learning the Croatian Language

By Alejandra Pavisich. Photo: Branka Slavica HRT. Video: Association of Croatian American Professionals

Dear readers, I want to share with you the video of my participation at the 2nd Annual Conference of the Association of American Croatian Professionals (ACAP) 2017, held in Chicago, United States on May 12, where one of the topics was focused on the education opportunities to learn the Croatian language in the United States and also in Croatia.

The panel in which I participated was called: “Bridging the gap: Opportunities and Connections for learning the Croatian language.” My participation focused on the success story of the high participation of the  Croatian South American community (90%) in the annual public call for the partial scholarships granted by the State Office for Croats Abroad that consistently has the highest number of participants in the Croatian language courses in Croatia and online. During my intervention (minute -18:29 to – 12:42 in the video link below) I mentioned that we have 4 factors for that high rate of participation of the South American diaspora:

1) Word of Mouth. This is how a lot of people find out in their Croatian communities in Latin America about this annual public call, through friends or relatives who have participated in the program.

2) Dissemination of the partial scholarship program through social media (Facebook, WhatsApp) and mass media. The scholarship information is widely distributed in about 40 Facebook pages and groups of the different Croatian communities accross Latin America, where there are also radio programs broadcasted by the Croatian communities in Argentina and Chile where most of the Croatian community is concentrated in South America.

3) The active use of the Facebook group for partial scholarships, which already has over 760 members. In this group both applicants and alumni communicate, inform and advise on the steps to be followed for the application, and then the trip to Croatia. The applicants can ask any question regarding the scholarship.

4) The need to learn Croatian to take and pass the Croatian citizenship test. Due to a change of Croatian citizenship law made in 2012, it has become a requirement for descendants of Croatians to learn the Croatian language and pass the Croatian citizenship test studying 100 questions from which 15 are selected randomly. In addition to passing the test, the applicants also need to fill out the application in Croatian, submit a brief resume in Croatian and have a brief interview in Croatian.

The panel brought together a variety of participants who contributed with their experience and knowledge to understand the challenges and opportunities that Croatian Americans have in learning the Croatian language, not just in Croatia but through Croatian language classes in the United States.

Video link: Panel on opportunities and connections to learn the Croatian language. Click link to watch the video.