by Erika Šaravanja, Grade 5 Teacher

Good ideas are infectious. How could we resist inviting our fifth and sixth grade students at the American International School of Zagreb (AISZ), where I teach, to add their “village” to the In Our Global Village program”

There were many good reasons to embark on this project. Andrea Katić, the students’ Croatian culture teacher, and I recognized it as a great way for students to become more knowledgeable about the city where they live or will live for the next two, three or more years. For some of our students, Zagreb is a permanent home; for others it is temporary. As an international school, we are used to children coming and going; our current student body of 210 includes 37 nationalities.

Transient or not, what a shame to live in a place and not explore what it has to offer in the way of history and culture! This became our charge.

Through field trips, interviews, class work and research projects, we came to know more about Zagreb than we had every imagined.

First we decided on a scheme for the book: looking at Zagreb through the colors blue, red, green, and gold. The official city color is blue; red represented tradition; green represented nature; and gold was for unique installations.


The selection of topics for the book was entirely the students’ decision. From an adult perspective I had hoped that students would note the “café society” atmosphere so prevalent in Croatia,

The café is a vital part of the culture. That is where friends meet. “Vidimo se na kavi.” (Let’s have coffee) is a common invitation. Even business is conducted in this informal relaxing ambience. On sunny days, particularly Saturday mornings, every café is packed. Lively conversations greet the passerby. Street events held in the many squares are colorful, energetic and frequent. Open air theater such as “C’est is the Best”, traditional crafts, foods, book fairs, puppet parades, celebrations of sport successes, protests... it all happens around you as you stroll by or enjoy your coffee.

. . . but that was my Zagreb.

The students had something else in mind.

We agreed, however, that every time the students went on a field trip, they would find individual spaces in an area and sit for ten or fifteen minutes, observing. They recorded their observations, thoughts, and feelings. Later the students used these observations  to produce a piece of writing. In this way, their young voices harmonized with the heroes’ statues, the city streets, the forests and castles they learned to hold dear.


In Our Global Village: Local Action, Global Connections

Featured book: Zagreb, Croatia