Back to “Normal”: Slowak Award Winners of Past Two Competitions Met in Bratislava

Slovak prize winners and competition organisers 2019/20 and 2020/21 | Photo: Slovak Centre for Communication and Development
Slovak prize winners and competition organisers 2019/20 and 2020/21 | Photo: Slovak Centre for Communication and Development

On 10 September, organisers, teachers, prize winners, friends and partners of the Slovak History Competition enjoyed a lively joint event in Bratislava, celebrating the results and findings of the past two competitions of 2019/20 and of 2020/21. Both competitions were affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

During the award ceremony, Viera Grigovà, Secretary General of the Slovak Commission of UNESCO, highlighted the parallels between the aims of the Slovak History Competition and of UNESCO when it comes to recognition and reflection of the regional and national heritage.

In 2019, together with the Monument Board of the Slovak Republic and under the auspices of UNESCO Slovakia, the Slovak Centre for Communication and Development launched a competition on “Wayside Shrines” in Slovakia. These landmarks can be found throughout the whole country. Students were invited to investigate local topography, traditions and beliefs, folk knowledge and myths, or past incidents of their local history, sometimes reaching back many centuries. As many of the shrines in the country are not officially registered yet, students were not only researchers but also took on the roles of field research workers. 24 students participated, handing in 13 entries.

Even though the 2021 competition round was entirely overshadowed by  the coronavirus pandemic, the organisers managed to adapt the competition’s regulations to be able to continue with the project. As for the topic, they encouraged students to reflect the current crisis by conducting research on “Epidemics and Post-War Traumas in the 20 th Century”. Supported by some long-time tutors, a small number of students managed to finish their projects under the circumstances given by the pandemic.

Four entries from the 2021 competition have now been awarded in Bratislava, two of them submitted in the form of a video. One of the winning entries put the current Covid-19 pandemic in relation to the Spanish flu and AIDS, providing food for thought by comparing how fear, hate and exclusion are triggered in different crises. The first prize was awarded to an entry about the successful eradication of polio in Slovakia and the world in the 1960s, stressing the benefits of vaccination with reference to a historical example.

Representatives of the winning entries from both competitions presented insights into their works during the award ceremony. Katja Fausser, EUSTORY’s Managing Director, explained how the Slovak competition is embedded in the international EUSTORY Network and invited all prize winners to discuss their results and experiences with people from other countries.

In the end, participants discussed with Ms Grigovà the role of volunteers when it comes to preservation of monuments. Together with the competition organiser Zuzana Jezerská all speakers appreciated the high quality of the submitted contributions that were created under most difficult circumstances.

All details about the prize winners and their research topics can be found here.

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