The Slovenia Times

Excellent Choice!



The Guest Star 2011 is over. After four years in Ljubljana, the fabulous event once again moved outside the Slovenian capital. This time to The European Capital of Culture 2012. Over 150 people gathered at the City Hotel, Maribor to witness the naming of the winners in the four categories.
Readers of The Slovenia Times, listeners of Radio Slovenia International and an expert committee made their decisions: Spanish Ambassador, Anunciada Fernández de Córdova received the award for Diplomacy; the boss of headlight producer Odelo Slovenija, Klaus Josef Holeczek, won for Economy; John Huges of Canada, who plays ice-hockey for the Ljubljana-based team Olimpija, was chosen the most popular expat athlete; and Joseph Rakotorahalahy, who was born in Madagascar but came to Ljubljana in 1977, won the title for Culture. They joined the previous outstanding expatriates, whose talent and personality have directly contributed to the development and openness of Slovenian society.
One thing that didn't go unnoticed was the personal voting campaign of the nominee for Guest Star for Culture, Joseph Rakotorahalahy, which reached as far as the White House. Joseph reached Michelle Obama through a friend explaining why he also needed her vote. Allegedly she also convinced her husband, the President of the United States, to cast a vote.
Hannah Mancini, the winner of the 2010 Guest Star for Culture, accepted the challenge to host this year's event. Her hosting debut however was not without a few hiccups. Well informed sources claim that she was so excited about the opportunity that she left her specially selected dress at home and was left with no other option than to appear on stage in her 'civilian' outfit. Of course, only a few people noticed and more importantly, the audience was very impressed by her relaxed and humorous appearance that, of course, couldn't go without performing a song.
The formal part of Guest Star event is traditionally a prelude to socialising. It is worth highlighting that moving the event to Maribor also meant hosting it in a place surrounded by vineyards. We should not speculate whether this made the atmosphere any cheerier but it is worth noting that the guests had the opportunity to enjoy only the best from four dedicated winemakers: Miro Vino, Vinag, Edi Simčič and Marof. A perfect complement for a perfect evening and to the delicious catering provided by City Hotel. In addition to the after party there was also a pre-party which took place at one of Maribor's most famous restaurant, Mak, where its chef David prepared a special treat for all the Guest Star nominees.


Anunciada Fernández De Córdova, Guest Star 2011 for Diplomacy
I'm enjoying myself in Slovenia very much. I work with passion and I love this country with passion. I have a wonderful team to work with and we feel like one which is very motivating. At the beginning of my mandate here it was difficult for me because my family lives in Madrid but then, in your beautiful nature, I discovered all the joy of living here. I enthusiastically started to dedicate myself to everything I could think of and the border between work and pleasure disappeared. I have very good Slovene friends and I've shared many things with them. I've also had two of my books published in Slovene and this gives me huge satisfaction in my heart. I'm really delighted to be here.

Klaus J. Holeczek, Guest Star 2011 for Economy
After I managed to recover from the surprise that I'd been nominated, I won the award and I'm very happy because of it. This is also good for our company here with Slovenian employees with which I have just positive experiences. Working with Slovenians is really good, they are highly motivated and I have trust in them and in the country. Slovenia and Germany do a lot of business together and we make a lot of promotion.

Joseph Rakotorahalahy, Guest Star 2011 for Culture
Foreigners in Slovenia are important because we offer you a mirror and an awareness that there are also other cultures out there from which you can further improve yourselves. The African culture is very unknown in Slovenia and I think my role is to promote it. I've already said that Slovenia is the most beautiful country in the world and I really mean it. Someone has to say it out loud as Slovenians themselves are not going to say it as you take your country for granted. When I tell people that I live in Ljubljana, they envy me so you should be proud that you live here. However, those coming to Slovenia should learn Slovenian and adapt to its culture. Try to promote your smallness and the uniqueness of your language which should be better known in Europe.

John Hughes, Guest Star 2011 for Sport
Winning the award means being recognised by the Slovenian people and this is a great feeling for me. Before coming to Slovenia, I played hockey in larger European countries and it's really a big difference moving to a small one. Different in the way of life and the people around. In Slovenia everybody knows everybody which is very specific. I'm happy here, also because of all the hospitality the Slovenians have shown me.


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