The association, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year and an received an award from President Borut Pahor for its good work in the country, all done on a volunteer basis, was established as a group for the wives of diplomats stationed in Ljubljana, and then soon expanded to attract those of foreign executives in the capital. But times change, and today the members, like women in general, are no longer defined by what their partners do, or expected to be married. Now SILA is open to all women who want to socialize with an international group, with this year seeing around 130 members from more than 40 different countries and a variety of backgrounds, including some Slovenes (although no nationality is allowed more than 25% of members, to ensure diversity is maintained).
Outdoor activities include Nordic walking...
...and climbing Mount Triglav
The actual board of SILA is made up of volunteers from different countries, with this year these being Mexico, Serbia, Romania, and Venezuela. The association’s President, Marta Berglez, is from Brazil,the Vice President, Anne Gwenelle, is from France, while the Bazaar Coordinator is Ursula Szabó, from Switzerland – a truly international group.
In keeping with this diversity, SILA’s social activities are held in English and extremely varied. In addition to the monthly coffee meetings there are small events held almost every day. These include trips and tours of cultural interest, but there are also dozens of groups, such as ones for Nordic walking, yoga, painting, mah-jong, cooking, reading, and of course language groups, with much more than Slovene on offer, and new groups being created by members as the need arises.
A visit to the Moderna galerija.
And while some events are in the daytime, SILA is aware that many people work, and so there are also evening and weekend activities, as well as groups for women with children, including playgroups and pre-school groups.
SILA attracts women who’ll be staying here for a short time as well as long-term residents, and foreigners married to Slovenians are especially welcome, and able to share their unique perspectives on the various cultural and practical issues that can arise while living abroad.
The bazaar is a lot of fun, raises money for good causes, and lets you try food from all over the world, often cooked by Embassy chefs. Don't miss it
With regard to the association’s charity work, the big focus is the annual bazaar, now held each year in the ballroom of the Grand Hotel Union, and which will next take place on Sunday, December 2 (2018), from 10:00 to 16:00. This is a fantastic, colourful day that’s open to all, and sees the ballroom lined with stalls from dozens of nations, each selling food and other items, all made possible with the solid support and participation of many of the foreigner embassies in Ljubljana. Having been myself, I can honestly say I came away convinced it was the event of the season, with a full belly of Indian food and already planning to come earlier the next time, so I could maybe squeeze in three meals rather than two.
President Borut Pahor at the bazaar
The group’s website is currently undergoing some improvements, and so isn’t as good now as it soon will be, but you can make first contact with SILA here or via Facebook. Annual membership costs €50, and you can find out more about that here. Once you’ve been accepted as a member you’ll be sent a regular schedule of events as a well as a newsletter, and thus gain access to a more interesting, integrated and connected life in Slovenia, and ensure that during your time spent here you’ll be making friends from all over the world.
Regular social events mean making friends is easy
And if you’re not a women, then mark December 2 in your calendar and pay a visit to the bazaar for a small taste of what you’ve been missing.