As the Slovenian flag proudly adorned San Francisco's St. Francis hotel on Sunday, Feb 28, 2016, revelers flocked to celebrate the 3rd year anniversary of the American-Slovenian Education Foundation (ASEF). Thanks to 2 Slovenian students who wanted to make available to others what they saw as invaluable experience in the American higher education system, 7 graduate students from their small country already have profited from ASEF's program.
Under the adept direction of Slovenia's Honorary Counsel Tom Brandi, Jure Leskovec and Peter Rožič have amassed a fervent following of like-minded supporters across the United States. Board members include the Honorable Božo Cerar, current Ambassador from Slovenia to the United States, the Honorable Iowa Senator Tom Harkins, and former U.S. Ambassador to Slovenia Johnny Young.
This year's ASEF Lifetime Achievement Award Winner and Astronaut, Dr. Ronald M. Šega charmed his listeners with stories of outer space. Seated next to interviewer Brandi on the stage, Dr. Šega told of his first visit to Slovenia's capital of Ljubljana and his gracious midnight welcome at the airport from then President Milan Kučan. "But who are all these people waiting behind the fence?" asked the astronaut. "They're your relatives." Dr. Šega recounted how he had promised the President to take a photo of Slovenia from his shuttle. After 5-days of being socked in by fog, the trip was extended by one day. On that 6th day the skies parted to give the perfect view of his family's homeland.