What I saw in Slovenia

By Roger Watson | 03/06/2017

They wore cowbells, but they weren’t cows. 

Man in Slovenian maskMARIBOR, Slovenia—More great news! In my previous post, I announced that I will be inducted into the International Nurse Researcher Hall of Fame during the 28th International Nursing Research Congress, sponsored by the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International (STTI). Now I’ve learned that my good friend and colleague, Parveen Ali, PhD, RN, FRSA, University of Sheffield, will be honoured as an Emerging Nurse Researcher at the same event. She thus achieves a double—the first UK nurse to receive the award and the first Pakistani to do so.

Roger WatsonI first met Ali in Sheffield when I interviewed her for a post as a research assistant on one of my projects. In a manner of speaking, we’ve been together ever since. She was working on her PhD while assisting me and gave birth to her second baby without any noticeable decline in work rate. (NB: I’m not advocating this!) I was very happy when she joined me at the University of Hull for a short time in her first lecturing role before returning to work in Sheffield. She is an expert on interpersonal violence, especially in the Pakistani community.

Meantime, in Slovenia
I was working in my hotel room one evening this week and heard cowbells approaching. In the street below, a white bear-like creature with a grotesque mask and cowbells strapped around the waist appeared and then entered a building opposite. I really had to pinch myself, and, yes, I was awake. Next day I discovered that I am here in the middle of Kurentovanje and that what I had seen was a man in a Kurent mask. The mask is, essentially, a costume, and I had seen them in a museum on a previous visit. But the difference between seeing a static mask in a museum and a large, noisy, hairy creature running along the street is striking.

The tradition, which occurs close to Easter, reaches its peak on what we call Shrove Tuesday in the United Kingdom, the day before Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent. Back home, Shrove Tuesday is also called Pancake Tuesday because we traditionally eat—and toss—pancakes. (My oldest son is an expert.) Here in Slovenia, they have a higher calorie tradition of consuming large doughnut-like cakes filled with marmalade, which we ate at the Faculty of Nursing at the University of Maribor. The man in the Kurent mask is doing an important meteorological job; he is chasing out winter.

This is my second academic visit to Slovenia. I have been teaching doctoral candidates about evidence-based practice and systematic reviewing, and they have been a pleasure to be with. I am collaborating here on a few studies and I think other European and UK universities could learn a lot from my nursing colleagues in Maribor. I was in Northern Ireland last week, and they were there. I go to Edinburgh regularly and have discovered they have links with all three universities there. Soon Dean Majda Pajnkihar, PhD, RN, and some senior colleagues will make their first visit to China.

Next on my agenda, after one full day at home, is a visit to Hong Kong to participate in the 20th EAFONS (East Asian Forum of Nursing Scholars). It is being held at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, and I look forward to catching up with old friends.

Roger Watson, PhD, RN, FRCP Edin, FRCN, FAAN, professor of nursing at the University of Hull in the United Kingdom and a frequent visitor to Australia and China, where he has visiting positions, is editor-in-chief of Journal of Advanced Nursing and editor of Nursing Open. Click here to access Blogger-resident entries posted before 2017 in Watson’s blog “Hanging smart.” 

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