The Heart of a City

The Heart of a City project is dealng with migrations as a human destiny, a human condition. Once upon a time, as all the stories begin, Europe was an empty place, inhabited with wild beasts. We all (or our ancestors) came from somewhere, moved across and around Europe, especially in the so called Age of Migrations, a lot of our ancestors emigrated overseas. This project is about researching and collecting personal and family stories of these migrations, thus building awareness of the matter, connecting to it on a personal level and so developing the communication bridge between local and immigrant children, empathy towards the past, present and future immigrants, as well as understanding among the European peoples and nations. It is named The Heart of a City after the children’s picture book, which is the integral part of the project. The book brings about a generic story of the people, moving into the city from all around the world and being accepted by it’s generous heart. In the process of the city growth, the heart of the city gets lost among the masses of new buildings, but at the same time several small hearts emerge all around. We plan a special special preface for teachers and mentors of
in order to help them in their work with children, adapted to national circumstances.

How we did it in Slovenia

The pilot project was supported by Active Citizens Fund in school years 2020-2021 and 2021-2022. The project was implemented in primary and secondary schools throughout Slovenia in
more stages.)

First, we prepared a storytelling event where we told selected stories on the topic of migration. To list a few:

  • the adventurous story of Luis Adamič, who immigrated to the USA at the age of fourteen and later became a famous writer, defender of immigrant rights and adviser to the American government;
  •  stories of young emigrant girls from the patriarchal Slovenian countryside, who first

    encountered the idea of women’s equality in the USA and then cosmopolitan Egypt, which also influenced the development of women’s equality in the old homeland;

  • a touching love story of a young couple who, despite the opposition of local communities and relatives, found immigrant work in separate countries to build a home and after several years of struggle lived happily ever after.


We also included some folk tales about young people, who left home to find their luck. In the second phase of the project, we focused on research. Pupils and students researched their family histories and created migration maps of their respective school classes. This proved to be an extremely effective method of connecting all children and make them work together, as there was no one in any class who did not have an immigrant or expatriate family member. You can see some of their migration maps in the gallery here. Drawing migration maps was also an opportunitiy to exchange some details from personal experience. Individualy, students researched different topics – from research of Slovenian surnames that bear witness to immigration from all directions in past centuries to mutual influences on foods and gastronomy, language similarity in common origins, an especiaslly reaserch of life and culture of emigrant communities abroad. The latter also had strong emotional effects, when youngsters compared their feelings about Slovenian societies abroad and their feelings about the activities of immigrant societies in Slovenia. The last phase was presentation. Exhibitions of migratin maps should be accompanied by storytelling events, but unfortunately the closure of schools because of the pandemic made it impossible, The final stage was the presentation. Exhibitions of migration maps should be accompanied by storytelling events, but unfortunately the closure of schools due to the pandemic has made this impossible, so storytelling workshops and events are left for the future development of the project 

Outline of the project at the international European plan

In the first stage we plan to collect and exchange traditional folk tales dealing with the issue. In Slovenia for instance, a motive of the tenth child that has to leave home because there’s not enough food for everybody is quite widespread, and many stories talk about a young man who travels far away to find his luck. We strongly believe every European nation knows such


The central stage of the project consist of sotrytelling workshops, that would present the collected folk tales from collaborating countries, inspire children to research their family stories on the issue and present them among their peers, most convenietly (at least in Slovenia) of age 8-12. Artistic workshops are optional, too.

In the final stage we would join the collected materials, bits and pieces of personal stories, drawings, recordings etc. and make a joint presentation. What will that be is up to all partners to decide, it can be an itinerant interactive street exhibition, a book, a video or whatever we shall find suitable in the process. In any case the project is very much opened for individual/national situations, ideas and aproaches, as long as it sticks to the basic premisses and goals explained above – to raise awareness of migrations as an inseparable part of human experience and enhance communication and mutual recognition between local and immigrant children.