8. The Real Story
‘I came here as a professional volleyball player for the Slovenian national team. However, I have witnessed many very unkind comments. Ever since I can remember, people have asked me if I work in a nightclub and if I am a dancer’ (Svetlana from Ukraine, 50 years old).
The BODE project (#BreakOutOfDoEquality), which we run together with ADRA Slovenia, is committed to empowering people with a migrant background in the field of advocacy, as they often do not get the right opportunity to present their side of the story. This time, however, it is different – by sharing real stories, we are fighting against the prejudice that migrants are not educated or skilled enough to participate equally and qualitatively in the progress of society in Slovenia.
This is Svetlana’s story…
Svetlana from Ukraine is a professional trainer, teacher, author of two autobiographical books, and also a court interpreter. Since living in Slovenia, she has experienced great successes, but she has also witnessed many prejudices.
‘I came to Slovenia in 1994, when Ukraine became independent and the borders were opened. As a young professional volleyball player, I joined the Slovenian national team and played volleyball until I was 36 years old. I have been a primary school sports teacher for 22 years. I am proud to have been the first in my school to be awarded the title of councilor, which has encouraged other teachers to want to progress in this direction. At the same time, I consider it a great success that I managed to write two books in Slovenian, which was not easy, but despite the challenges, I managed to do it.’
Svetlana was elected as a municipal councilor in Ljutomer this year and was offered the opportunity to run for a parliamentary seat, which she did not accept due to family commitments and a desire to care more closely for her 5 children.
On the system and procedure for obtaining citizenship and integration itself, Svetlana believes it would be a very good idea to consider changing the law to make it easier for immigrants to obtain residence and work rights more quickly. She also thinks that it would be a good idea to improve housing policy procedures and the allocation of municipal housing to families in need.
‘During my life in Slovenia, I have witnessed many prejudices and some very unkind comments. I live in a small village where historically people have not had much contact with immigrants from other countries and cultures. I am a tall blonde from Ukraine and, for as long as I can remember, people have asked me whether I work in a nightclub and whether I am a dancer. I always had to explain that I don’t know how to pole dance, but that I play professionally for the Slovenian national volleyball team,’ Svetlana said about her challenges in Slovenia.
We fight stereotypes, discrimination, and prejudice. It is important to stand together for social justice, equal treatment, and opportunities for all members of our society. Let’s be tolerant, friendly, and open to new faces, new acquaintances, and opportunities for people to surprise us positively as great employees, talented individuals, or just loyal friends. Although different, we are all equal.
More about the stories and the project:
𝑻𝒉𝒆 𝒑𝒓𝒐𝒋𝒆𝒄𝒕 “𝑩𝑶𝑫𝑬/𝑩𝒓𝒆𝒛 𝑶𝒗𝒊𝒓 𝑫𝒐 𝑬𝒏𝒂𝒌𝒐𝒔𝒕𝒊” 𝒊𝒔 𝒇𝒖𝒏𝒅𝒆𝒅 𝒃𝒚 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝑨𝒄𝒕𝒊𝒗𝒆 𝑪𝒊𝒕𝒊𝒛𝒆𝒏𝒔 𝑭𝒖𝒏𝒅 𝒊𝒏 𝑺𝒍𝒐𝒗𝒆𝒏𝒊𝒂 𝒇𝒓𝒐𝒎 𝑴𝒂𝒓𝒄𝒉 𝟐𝟎𝟐𝟐 – 𝒕𝒐 𝑵𝒐𝒗𝒆𝒎𝒃𝒆𝒓 𝟐𝟎𝟐𝟐.