Last year our class participated in an international student exchange with a high school from Gornji Milanovac in Serbia, where we spent three fun and unforgettable days learning about Serbia and Serbian culture. This year in September we finally got to return the favour and invited them to Slovenia, so we could build up our already tight friendships and show them our beautiful country.

 

Tight relations between both towns,  Slovenj Gradec and Gornji Milanovac,  go back to the first half of 20th  century, when the German invaders forcibly moved a lot of inhabitants from Slovenj Gradec to Serbia. But, unlike the Germans expected, the Serbians welcomed our people and offered them food, drink and roof above their heads. Therefore Slovenj Gradec and Gornji Milanovac became partner cities during the 70s . With every student exchange we only bring both cities and their inhabitants closer together.

On Wednesday, September 19, our class gathered at our school, where we waited for our Serbian guests. They were late, but that only made us more excited – we could not wait to meet them again. We got to do that around half past eight, when Serbian bus finally arrived. A lot of hugs, handshakes and wide, happy smiles followed since we finally reunited with our friends. After the greeting we parted to go home, where the Serbians met with our families, had a warm meal and some rest after the whole day of travelling.

 

Next day we took them to school, where we prepared presentations about Slovenia and Slovenj Gradec and introduced some traditional Slovenian dishes. We showed them our local sights and taught them two dances, a polka dance and a povštertanc  (Slovenian national dance) and we also taught them the song Sam en majhen poljub mi dej by Pero Lošin.  We had chosen Lošin because he was scheduled to have a concert in Slovenj Gradec on Friday night, which we all intended to attend. At the end of the workshops we presented our new dancing and singing skills to our teachers.

 

Thursday’s afternoon was intended for free time, so our class organised a party at Velenjsko jezero. We all enjoyed great music, a good company and the warm water of the lake which many of us dared to dive into.

 

Friday morning we set off to Ljubljana.  We showed them around our capital city, but still had enough time to stop in coffee shops for a coffee or something sweet. Our next stop was Piran which was especially interesting to our guests, who do not have sea in their home country. It was almost a true summer day – sunny and warm. First we walked around the city, admiring the sights and then went swimming in the sea. At five o’clock we set back to Slovenj Gradec, since we had to get ready for the night to come. Later that night Pero Lošin had an amazing concert and our Serbian friends enjoyed it just as much as we did, mainly because we all hung out together, being our last night together.

Next morning it was a time for a farewell; you could see endless hugs, pointless promises given and even some tears falling. We finally realised how strong our friendships had become. Truly hoping to see each other again, we said goodbye, standing on the parking lot and waving long after their bus left for home on a beautiful Saturday morning.