Shining Stars from the Eastern Sky
This year's Guest Star campaign, the second in a row, has come to its conclusion. Some 200 people came to a brand new Vitranc hall to witness the selection from the twelve finalists. Of course, it was not merely an announcement ceremony, but also an evening with a rich cultural program, a tasty buffet and a socializing party afterward. The event began with a joint performance by the choir Perpetum Jazzile, and Mojca Horvat's dance group, whose perfection was truly impressive. Another musical highlight was the harp performance of Monica Stadler; elegance was in the air. The speech by Brane Krajnik, The Slovenia Times CEO and publisher, which, among others reminded us of the ideals behind the Guest Star award was a nice introduction to Dr. Valentin Inzko, the Austrian Ambassador, who seemed the right person to outline the importance of good neighbourly relations and international respect. The hosts of the event - Mojca Mavec and Michael Manske -- successfully brought the award ceremony to its peak. Nothing was left, but to find out who won the titles. The award in Culture went to Huiquin Wang, a Chinese painter who inscribed Slovenia to her life story two decades ago and impressed us with her fine arts creations. Huiquin made her way to Kranjska Gora directly from Venice, where she presented her "Slovenian" works. Mr Cristop Steidl Porenta, last year's Guest Star in culture and Mojmir Ocvirk of Imelda Agency presented the award to the winner. Sports followed, and were the only category where the winner was unfortunately absent. Edouard Kokcharov couldn't be missed by the Russian national handball team, who were in the middle of preparations for the European championship. The category of business seemed to have seen the fiercest battle among the candidates, but Andreas Maierhofer was the victor. He received the award from Samo Pagon of Audi and The Slovenia Times' Brane Krajnik. Final category was Diplomacy and included those who operate in the field of pure international relations. The winner was Balkan Kizildeli, the former Turkish ambassador who came to Slovenia with the first flight on Turkish Airlines. The introduction of this flight was nevertheless also a fruit of his endeavours. Christine Okresek passed last year's title to Mr Kizildeli, while HIT's Silvan Krizman took the other part in award-giving. As the final chapter of the award ceremony ended, the curtain behind the stage parted and revealed the space for a post-event dinner, where diplomats, business people and other guests enjoyed chatting and tasting the delicious set of food prepared for this special occasion. During the dinner, Mitja Mersol, one of greatest Slovenian journalist stepped onto the stage to perform an auction for three pictures: by our winner Huiqin Wang, Japanese artist Sangawa Noriaki and Mrs. Terry Milk, the president of the Slovenian International Ladies Association. The unexpected auction has not dragged too much attention from the guests who were obviously too busy talking to each others and tasting the delicacies. However, the three works of art were on display and Mitja Mersol managed to convince the guests to purchase two of them. The painting by Sangawa Noriaki was bought by Zoran Djukic in the name of Stoja Trade real estate agency. The smaller painting by Terry Milk went home with Mersol's spouse who would not miss an opportunity to get a hold of the piece created by the president of SILA. All together, 105.000 SIT were raised for the new pediatric clinic in Slovenia at the event, which makes it 239.000 SIT in combination with money that was raised with the greetings card in New Year's edition of the Slovenia Times. The Second Guest Star was a step forward and (there is no doubt) in the "right direction". Compared to the last year's campaign, more feedback was given from the beginning of the campaign: more candidates were nominated, more votes came in, more guests attended the final event, which was also set at a higher level. The choice of candidates was not only bigger, but also richer in variety. Interestingly, despite so-called "westernization", all the winners geographically came from the east of the Slovenia.