ANICA SRNEC BA BEd MA
ANICA was born on 1st July 1939 and died on 22nd April 1991.
She left Slovenia on 4th December 1956 with her brother Stefan and sister Terezika. After being at the Asten camp in Austria, they came to Australia on 22nd May 1957.
In Slovenia, she attended secondary school in Murska Sobota and continued studies in Melbourne, completing university with a Masters Degree in German and French.
She taught at a state secondary school.
She loved children and helped many of them as they came to her in times of crisis. She always had a kind, uplifting, or encouraging word for each of them.
She began teaching at the Slomšek School in 1960.
She organised the cultural programmes for Mother’s Days and holy days, Prešeren Days and Saint Nicholas, and directed children’s plays and, at times, even performed in them. Anica was a very good teacher, always carefully planning each lesson − simple lessons, suitable readings and stories, also songs and scenes, at appropriate levels of understanding. The students loved her. She had a connection with children and motivated the children of Slovenian parents to contribute articles to Kotiček naših mladih in the monthly publication Misli and
encouraged and thanked them.
The most frequently performed plays were The Stepmother and The Stepdaughter and Snow White. On a makeshift stage, they had basic scenery, and parents assisted with costumes and were also involved in other ways. Anica also liked to play the piano and accompanied the students while they sang and danced.
She was a teacher in heart and spirit.
Anica liked to praise, and was proud of her students. They loved her and were obedient and learnt their lessons well. She always believed that it was important that children learn the Slovenian language. Many students remember her with great fondness. For Anica, the learning of Slovenian language was a vital part of the children’s cultural understanding.
Anica taught French and German at a High schools in Australia, Italy and England. She died in England in 1991.
In Memory of Anica
Memories of Anica by one of her students, Magda Hribernik nee Mesar:
“I had come to know Anica Srnec as a child through my family, Mesar. Being Slovenian it was common for the migrants of the ’50s in Australia to group together, to hear their own language, and to encourage their children to gain knowledge of their rich heritage.
Then in the sixties, family friends, the Uršič family, informed us of Slovenian classes which were just beginning at Baraga House in Kew and run by Anica Srnec.
There she was, Anica, with her heart-shaped, freckled face, with curly hair and a great smile. She was standing at a large, circular Edwardian table which was soon to become our desk. I also remember the lace curtains that framed her against the bay windows in the parlour of the old house that, upon Father Basil’s occupancy, was now called Baraga House.nI was surprised to find that the room where we met was actually our classroom and that Anica had no resources. We had to bring our own exercise books and pencils and so while Anica roamed around the table we did grammar, spoke Slovenian and were allowed to ask questions about Slovenia. Anica’s lessons were directed to our individual needs and we sang a lot. (Later I discovered this to be something inherent and an innate cultural joy in Slovenes.) My friends Majda, Jožica and Cvetka Uršič had powerful voices, and people appreciated the lovely songs that they sang, accompanied by Anica on the piano.nAnica enjoyed teaching the songs and when I recited the Sloven’c tvoja zemlja je prava in pridnim nje lega najprava ... by Valentin Vodnik, Anica was pleased. She smiled and encouraged me with praise as she did other students. She knew how to bring out the best in people and I knew that was why children and adults enjoyed her as a teacher, friend and confidante.
We met regularly over the next couple of weeks at first with only the Uršič sisters. Then over the next months, other students were recruited by word of mouth and so our numbers increased. So much so, that the parlour room became too small and so we moved to the ‘migrant’s’ dining room which became our new classroom. Here, on a weekly basis, we occupied a large, trestle-like table and continued to practise our Slovenian. Here, I also remember meeting the Penca children, Kristina and Stanko, and later Magda Pleško. Oh, how we laughed! I recall the sheer enjoyment we had of being together, especially over the hot cocoa served to us by some parents and later, Sister Ema. Eventually we moved to the little kapelica on the same premises, which seemed more like a real classroom, with its rows and tables. We also began to use texts provided for us.
Anica got us to perform for events like Miklavž, in Footscray and at St Francis’s hall in the city. We recited great Slovenian poems, did sketches, danced and sang songs.
The halls were always full with an appreciative audience made up of parents and the broader Slovenian community.
It was a joyous time when we sang in Slovenian at Mass for the very first time in Australia. Always sincere, Anica worried with you and tried hard to please her audience and her brother. Even though I was young, I recognised and appreciated Anica for what she was − a worker!
Over the years, Anica continued to study and in between times, she and her brother even let us improve our skills and practise at their home. So selfless was she, that any spare time she had was gladly given to us for practice. She encouraged us to question and she allowed us to build on our strengths and so gain confidence to tackle more difficult tasks. I loved her and admired her. She cared about her students. Privately, I saw a lonely,
shy person. Anica never looked for the limelight and Slovenians much appreciated having the poems, short sketches and beautiful melodies of a distant homeland made that little bit more accessible. It wasn’t unusual to see people shed a tear during a performance.
It helped build a sense of pride among the parents and especially among the students themselves.”
And the very first Slovenian language student Sandra Krnel nee Hervatin:
"My memories of Gospodična (Miss) Anica, as we called her, are of a gentle, softly spoken lady. She not only taught us the Slovenian language, but beautiful songs and hymns as well. I remember performing on stage at the Moomba Festival where we sang in our national costumes, but the fondest memory I have is of our group singing at Slovenian Mass when it was in a church somewhere in Burnley before we built our church in Kew. My favourite hymn was Ave Maria, and every time I hear our residents singing it at Mother Romana Home, it takes me back to that time in my childhood.
As a result of my attending Slovenska šola, I not only learned the basics of reading and writing in Slovenian, I also developed beautiful friendships with the other students, and I am still in contact with most of them to this day.
I am sure Gospodična Anica would be proud to see a lot of us still involved in the Slovenian community in one way or another, and encouraging our own children and grandchildren to love and respect the Slovenian language and culture."
Most widely held works by Anica Srnec