Hannah (Bauer) Mast grew up in the south end of Findlay with fond memories of Dietsch Brothers ice cream, Friday night football at Donnell Stadium and concerts in Riverside Park. A graduate of Findlay High School, she played the flute in the orchestra and was a Trojan cheerleader. Mast now lives in Slovenia with her husband, Justin, and their three children. Cultural differences abound between Findlay, Ohio, and Ljubljana, Slovenia, the Central European city that the Mast family now calls home.
Relationships and cultures
Hannah and Justin are on staff with an international ministry, Cru. She describes Cru as “a worldwide student movement to make the world a better place,” and explains that their main goal is to connect students to God through the teachings of Jesus.
The Masts, who have lived in Slovenia for three years, build relationships with Slovene college students and become a spiritual resource for them. Admittedly, cultural differences can make this challenging.
“In general, Slovenes are people who build deep relationships with just a few people so they are slow to call someone a friend,” explains Mast.
Parenting practices are different as well. “In Slovenia, it’s very rare that you wouldn’t have both parents working,” says Mast, who points out that stay-at-home moms and dads are much more common in the U.S. “Additionally, parents tend to be more hands-off in Slovenia and have a ‘let the kids work it out themselves’ mentality,” says Hannah.
The Masts’ oldest daughter, Ava, will start first grade this fall. An interesting difference from U.S. schools is that Ava will be with the same class of 25 kids from first grade through eighth grade. The students also take off their shoes and wear slippers throughout the school day.
Appreciating traditions from both countries
A cultural tradition of Slovenia that the Mast family enjoys involves a break from the hustle and bustle. “They really seem to take Sundays to rest, recover and be with family. Almost all of the stores in the city are closed for the day. It took a while to get used to, but it’s something we’ve really grown to enjoy and appreciate,” says Mast.
While Hannah and Justin adapt to the cult
ure in Slovenia, they also bring a tradition from home. On Thanksgiving they gather with Americans and do a potluck turkey dinner on a Slovenian farm. “It’s really cozy and relaxing to be away from the city. It helps make the holiday special for us,” she explains. In spite of very different cultures, the Mast family has embraced Slovenia and found ways to make it feel like home.
Hannah’s Favorite Recipe is very common in Ljubljana:
Šopska Solata (pronounced show-pska so-la- ta)
(Also known as Bulgarian Salad)
4 roma tomatoes, diced large
1 large cucumber, diced large ( peel optional)
2 green peppers, chopped
2 red peppers
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar salt and black pepper
1/2 cup (or even more) feta cheese, crumbled
1. Place tomatoes, cucumber, peppers, onion and parsley in a large bowl.
2. Place oil, vinegar, salt and pepper to taste in a screw-top jar. Cover and shake until well blended.
3. Toss dressing with vegetables, turn into a serving bowl and refrigerate untilready to serve.
Top with crumbled cheese.