This year’s program will include: writers, linguists, researchers and academics, start-up entrepreneurs from Slovenia, the USA, Italy, Spain, Mexico and Argentina.
Francesco Cositore

Vaporetto Italiano, Italija – jezikoslovec, spletni učitelj italijanskega in angleškega jezika

Francesco Cositore is an Italian online teacher based in Ferrara, his birth place in the North of Italy. He has a master degree in International economics but he’s had a strong passion for languages since he was a child. Foreign languages, in fact, have always been part of his life, especially during his 10-year long career in the marketing and sales department of important international companies.

As a former student of four languages, he now wants to help those who have the desire to reach fluency in his mother tongue. The year 2017 was an important turning point for him, when he decided to get a certification as a teacher, leave his full-time job and start his own business online.

Now Francesco teaches Italian through videos on his fast-growing Youtube channel, called Vaporetto Italiano, and gives one on one lessons on Skype to students from all over the world. Through his videos he can indulge his main passions such as foreign languages, literature, acting, traveling and personal growth.

In 2020, Francesco got a certification as a Neurolanguage Coach® and developed his teaching competences further in order to really understand how people’s brain can learn in the most natural and spontaneous way. His mission is to allow his students and followers to immerse themselves into the Italian language and learn it in an easy, fun and intuitive way. “You learn best when you forget you are learning”. This is the motto that guides him in his job as a teacher.

Carlos Pascual

Carlos Pascual (Ciudad de México, 1964) studied literature, theatre and film in Mexico and the USA. Before he settled in Slovenia, he wrote for different newspapers and literary magazines, he worked as screenwriter in Spanish and English languages for radio, television and film. He edited two magazines for art, architecture and literature, directed theatre performances and created more short films. He established an independent centre for performing and circus arts in San Miguel de Allende.

For the last decade, he has been living and creating in Ljubljana, he regularly writes for Saturday supplement to newspaper Dnevnik Objektiv, he publishes his stories, essays and chronicles in literary magazines (Literatura, Sodobnost) and as an essay and accompanying text writer cooperates with different publishing houses. He has established an independent studio for development of intimate theatre, Pocket Teater Studio, in Ljubljana and he has turned it in a web and physical art platform Black Box Studio during the time of pandemic.

During the time in Slovenia, he wrote a collection of essays Of Maids, High Heels and Lost Opportunities (Šerpa, 2015) and essay travelogue Thick Walls, Small Windows (Cankarjeva založba, 2017). These two books have unexpectedly placed him in a place of hybrid Mexican Slovene writer, because his writing offers a fresh view on Slovene geographical and cultural space, he perceives the differences and similarities of Slovene culture in comparison with tradition, heritage and literary history of the rest of Ibero-Romance and South American world with a special sensitivity. Pascual’s third book of chronicles titled Illegal Melancholy (Šerpa, 2020) was placed in the final choice of short prose works for the Novo mesto award.

Mojca Medvedšek

Mojca Medvedšek studied French language and art history in Ljubljana as well as Portuguese language and literature in Zagreb.

She works as a translator and professor for Portuguese language at the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures at the Faculty of Art in Ljubljana. After her doctoral degree in literary sciences, contacts between Portuguese and French literature have become a main area of her research; she is also involved in studying the history of translation and teaching foreign languages in Slovenia. She occasionally manages translation workshops, intended for students in the frameworks of the Prevajalnica project, which take part in coastal towns and are organized by JSKD (Republic of Slovenia Public Fund for Cultural Activities); she also cooperates in international translation projects.

She mainly translates fiction, often accompanied by essayistic, sociological, artistic and philosophical texts in French, Portuguese or Spanish languages. Among renowned authors of works, translated from French/Portuguese/Spanish to Slovene language, are J.M.G le Clézio, Paul Ricoeur, Michel Houellebecq, Drummond de Andrade, Pessoa and Machado de Assis, she also translates from Spanish and co-edits texts by Mexican author Carlos Pascual, who resides in Slovenia.

Nataša Konc Lorenzutti

Nataša Konc Lorenzutti (1970) graduated at the Department of Stage Acting and Artistic Word at the Academy of Theatre, Radio, Film and Television in Ljubljana; she received the faculty Prešeren Award for the role of Ophelia in 1993. In 2010, she concluded university master’s studies of artistic word under supervision of prof. Aleš Valič. Between 1994 and 1999, she was engaged as an actress in two Slovene professional theatres; from 1999 on, she devotes herself to literary work. She has already published nineteen literary works for children and youth as well as five for adults. In 2017, she received the ‘zlata hruška’ (golden pear) award for the best original juvenile work in 2015 for her book titled Kdo je danes glavni (Who is in charge today); and in the same year, she received the ‘svetlobnica’ award for her novel Bližina daljave (The proximity of distance). In 2020, she was placed on the Honour list of the International Board on Books for Young People (IBBY) for her work Zvezek in brezvezek (Notebook and lamebook) (published by Miš, 2018).

Next to her liberal profession, she was also employed as a professor of theatre subjects at the artistic department of Nova Gorica Grammar School. She has currently assumed her liberal profession as a writer and screenwriter.

Primož Suhodolčan

Primož Suhodolčan is a contemporary writer for children and youth. His works are popular among children and juveniles and have been placed among top most read books for many years. Already as a boy, he wrote short poems, crosswords, word puzzles and wrote articles for school newsletter. His first contributions were published in Vigred, the newsletter of the primary school Osnovna šola Franja Goloba Prevalje. After his father’s death, he continued his father’s stories of detectives Naočnik and Očalnik in juvenile magazine Pionirski list between 1981 and 1987, and between 1984 and 1995 published adventures of Peter Nos and Popek in children’s magazine Ciciban. He also assisted in some of the screenplays for the children television show Radovedni Taček (about a curious dog).

His style of writing could be characterized as action comedy and imagination humour, containing a large amount of juvenile playfulness and wordplay. His book Košarkar naj bo! (about young boy who became a successful basketball player) received the award ‘Moja najljubša knjiga’ (My favourite book) four times in a row (in 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2002), as well as the award Zlato priznanje (2008). His collection of stories Pozor, pravljice! (Attention, fairy tales!) received the award ‘Moja najljubša knjiga’ three times in a row (2009, 2010 and 2011). Suhodolčan is also placed among authors in Antologija sodobne slovenske mladinske literature (anthology of contemporary Slovene juvenile literature). He is also ambassador of the humanitarian programme by ZPMS (Slovenian Association of Friends of Youth) – Pomežik soncu (A wink to the sun).

dr. Eric Leake

Eric Leake is an associate professor of English and director of the master’s program in rhetoric and composition at Texas State University. He was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Ljubljana during the 2019 – 2020 fall term with his wife and then one-year-old son. As a Fulbright Scholar he taught American studies and conducted writing and pedagogy workshops. He also taught English as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Gurjaani, Georgia. His primary research focus is rhetorics of empathy. He currently is working on the concept of difficult empathy and co-editing a collection on empathy and teaching writing.

Isa Antunović

Isa Antunović comes from Boulder in Colorado, where she grew up, but moved to Slovenia with her family, when she was 14 years old.

Isa had a very hard time right after moving to Slovenia, because she switched the English speaking surroundings for the Slovenian one. In the USA, Isa was home-schooled, but she enrolled in regular primary school in Slovenia that had quite demanding teachers. After concluding the ninth grade of the primary school, Isa decided not to continue with her schooling despite her teachers’ persuasion. She knew this would not help her on her path. She decided to return to Colorado and become an art teacher, but life rarely follows our plans and she returned to Slovenia. She started to occupy herself with kombucha, her favourite drink.

At present, Isa is a successful businesswoman, who at only 18 years of age sets new standards to kombucha production with her trademark Isa’s kombucha. Her products are sold in numerous establishments in Slovenia and larger commercial chains, namely Mercator and DM. The workers speak English most of the time, since this language is their common point. Besides Isa, the team includes Anna from Russia and Nina, Dino and Urban from Slovenia. As her everyday life, Isa’s business profile on Instagram (@isakombucha) is partly in English and partly in Slovene language. Isa admits that she is currently truly satisfied with her life in Slovenia.

dr. Naja Ferjan Ramirez

Dr. Naja Ferjan Ramírez is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Linguistics at the University of Washington, where she directs the Language Development and Processing Laboratory (LDP). Her main research interests arelanguage development and learning in the first five years of life. She particularly focusses on children of diverse language backgrounds and children mastering more than one language. Dr. Naja conducts behavioral, brain and intervention studies.

Dr. Naja Ferjan Ramirez comes from Slovenia. She moved to the USA in her late teens to combine pursuing quality education and training athletics. After pursuing a PhD in linguistics and cognitive sciences at the University of California, she moved to Seattle where she works at the University of Washington and raises multilingual children with her husband.

Mariah L.K. Dolenc

Mariah Dolenc is an American living in Ljubljana with her Slovenian husband and their three children. Her children are raised bilingual and as a family they speak both languages, Slovenian and English. Mariah works in the health and nutrition industry, as well as being a YouTube creator. She shares her experiences living in Slovenia and traveling Europe and back to California to visit family. Her content reflects lifestyle, health, family, and a touch of life philosophy. She likes to keep it real with a positive outlook on life.

dr. Mojca Stubelj Ars

Mojca Stubelj Ars is a children’s writer, researcher, ecologist and start-up entrepreneur. She started writing essays and fairytales in elementary school. Enchanted by a world of books in which anything is possible and the imagination has no limits, she writes and creates in English in Slovenian.

Mojca began her career as a young researcher at the University of Nova Gorica, where she worked in the field of decision support in the implementation of sustainable development in protected areas. She focused in particular on ecotourism and sustainable tourism in protected areas. Mojca received the prestigious YOUNG SCIENTIST AWARD for her doctoral dissertation, awarded by Alpine convention. Mojca lived and worked for one academic year at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, USA. During this period, she and her husband raised their son bilingually, which led her to develop interest in early language learning.

After completing her doctorate, Mojca Stubelj Ars embarked on the path of entrepreneurship, founded the MINI POLIGLOTINI brand and start-up. She has written and published 4 books for children, created few mobile apps for early language learning and published several coloring books. The peculiarity of her books and coloring books is that they are bilingual or multilingual and therefore suitable for early language learning. Mojca developed several board games as well. Mojca creates in the field of culture and remains active in the field of sustainable tourism.

Ines Paez Teran

Ines Paez Teran was born and grew up in Tucuman, Argentina. She was always interested in languages, art and dance, thus she attended many different educational courses along the years. She worked as make-up artist and fashion designer and a dance coach for teenagers.

Ines journey as an expat started five years ago when she moved with her Slovenian husband to Copenhagen, Denmark, where they mainly spoke English and learnt some Danish.

Ines Paez Teran lives in Slovenia since early 2021 and is looking forward for new adventures and challenges, including learning the Slovenian language.

Marjetka Žnidarčič

Marjetka was born in Slovenia in 1985, she spent her childhood in Nova Gorica. After finishing her secondary school, she decided to continue studying economy in Trieste, which enabled her a student exchange in Alicante (Spain). She met her now husband there in 2009 and in 2010, they decided to start a business together. They opened a language school Juan Sebastian Elcano (@escuelaelcano), specialized for teaching Spanish to foreigners.

The school cooperates with numerous tourist agencies, schools, universities, language and linguistic societies and offers a variety of study programmes and services. In the last few years, this business, in collaboration with Spanish Ministry Inclusion, Social Security and Migration, has been occupied in programmes of linguistic education of refugees and immigrants. Marjetka and her partner wanted for their company to have a humanitarian touch and to develop and support humanitarian activities. In 2021, the school finally achieved its desired goal, common to every language school of Spanish language – it was granted an accreditation and a title of accredited centre at the Cervantes Institute.