Croats in South America organize annual meetings to discuss how to improve networking and nurture their Croatian culture and heritage. These meetings, which are also partly business-related, were founded by Robert Jakubek, Honorary Consul of the Republic of Croatia in the Bolivian city of Santa Cruz dela Sierra, and Franjo Kurtović, an entrepreneur from Lima in Peru.
At the second meeting in Bolivia in 2016, a declaration was made with a list of requests addressed to the Government and Parliament of the Republic of Croatia. While reading this declaration, I was thinking about what I could personally do to contribute. I chose two items.
The first was to organize an online Croatian language course that would be free for all participants. We started this at the Aspira University in Split, along with the financial support of Split-Dalmatia County. It was the first webinar of the Croatian language course for South American emigrants, and now it is traditionally held once a year.
The second point was the establishment of the Virtual Museum of Dalmatian Emigration. As the founder, I also proposed this idea to Split-Dalmatia County, to which the county prefect Blaženko Boban agreed to be a co-founder and provide financial support. The museum was established in 2017 and then removed the following year due to a lack of logistics. Therefore, I was not ready to revitalize it until I became sure that the material I collected over the years would be in the right and safe place, for instance, with the Aspira University College.
The Museum of Emigration is conceived as a place for collecting and presenting material on Croatian emigration and the history of emigration, which has never been sufficiently researched. I would not say that it is because there were no people who took this topic seriously, but because it is a long period and a large number of people and their destinies. Emigration can be studied from a number of points of view, be it history, genealogy, sociology, psychology or linguistics, despite the fact that the language in emigration is inevitably lost. However, where it is preserved, it is locked in time and interesting to study. By collecting material containing family stories, photographs, documents, letters, audio and video recordings, we hope to connect and interest other Croatian institutions in cooperation, as well as encourage the public to participate in their stories and materials.