Junior Fellows 2020

Meet Junior Fellows - Visiting Slovenia

Ana Vombergar


Ana Vombergar is a fourth-year undergraduate student at the George Washington University, where is she pursuing a double major in international affairs and Arabic studies. Ana has spent extensive time developing her Arabic language and cross-cultural communication skills in Morocco, Oman, and Jordan, and is eager to continue expanding her knowledge of the world with the ASEF summer fellowship. All four of Ana’s grandparents were born and raised in Slovenia and she is beyond grateful for the opportunity to live and learn in a country that is so deeply rooted in her identity. This summer, she will be working alongside Dr. Mojca Ilc Klun at the Faculty of Arts and believes that this experience will strengthen her love of international affairs by facilitating a more comprehensive understanding of European migration. In addition to the academic and professional components of the fellowship, Ana is excited to delve deeper into day-to-day Slovenian life and establish a stronger connection with her Slovenian heritage. On the weekends, you can find her spending time with friends and family, studying Arabic, and enjoying the outdoors.

Dalma Lorena Grbec


Dalma Lorena Grbec is a Public Accountant, graduated from the Argentinian University of Business (UADE). She is next to finish an MBA in Business Management at the University of Cema in Buenos Aires. Dalma is specialized in SMEs companies, and her final research concerns about innovation management applied on mature SMEs, particularly in emerging economies.

She is very grateful and excited for the opportunity ASEF has provided. The impact of this experience will give her personal growth as a professional by being open to interact and explore how education and research develop in Ljubljana. Furthermore, helping her improve the Slovenian language. This will be her second time visiting Slovenia, and she is expecting to be in her favorite season, autumn.

In her free time, she loves doing outdoor activities, participating in music events, tasting, and learning all about teas and infusions. Her entrepreneurial soul let her have her own brand, which she called “Ljubim tea”.

David Turk


David Turk is a third-year undergraduate student at Saint Louis University, on the pre-medical studies track. He will be interviewing this fall for early acceptance into Saint Louis University School of Medicine. David performs research at Saint Louis University, where he is working on developing a novel Hemoglobin C detection "tube drop” method for use in Haiti and other countries with limited access to electricity and laboratory resources. He has also worked at an outpatient surgery center for over 700 hours, observing countless surgeries and sharpening his patient care skills. He hopes to utilize these experiences to perform medical research this summer. David also looks forward to establishing important connections in Slovenia that he will maintain throughout his professional career and experiencing the differences between Slovenia's and the United States’s healthcare systems. Though a Slovenian citizen, he has not stayed in Slovenia for more than three weeks at a time. He is grateful for the opportunity to live in Slovenia for an extended period of time and further experience the natural beauty of the country. In his free time, David enjoys running outdoors, reading non-fiction books, attempting to play his father’s button box accordions, and dancing polkas with Folklorna Skupina Kres, a Slovenian folklore dance group in his home town of Cleveland, Ohio.

José Ignacio Scasserra


José Ignacio Scasserra graduated from Buenos Aires University in February of 2017 with his BA in Philosophy. He worked in multiple pedagogical programs, with children and teenagers from vulnerable neighborhoods in Buenos Aires. He is currently finishing his master's degree thesis in Interdisciplinary subjectivity studies and starting his Ph.D. in Philosophy. His investigations go on ethics, education, gender violence, and the construction of subjectivity in our current time. Names like Michel Foucault, Immanuel Kant, or even Saint Augustine can be seen on his papers.

José is looking forward to doing his experience in Ljubljana not only for his research and professional links but also because of his ties with his Slovenian heritage. His grandfather, Dusan Lenscak, was a philosophy teacher at Ljubljana University until 1938 when he escaped to Argentina with his wife, Ludmila Kalim, who studied pedagogy at the same university. Jose's family knows loads of stories from that time, but little they know about their grandparent's life at university. By walking the same corridors, his grandparents walked almost a century before, and by researching a bit on the university archives, he expects to get to know a bit more about his grandparent's professional life in Ljubljana.

José loves writing and reading literature, studying languages, and working out. He is currently working on his first novel in a literary workshop while studying French at Buenos Aires University. He usually rests his head working out, training on the swimming pool, or running along park trails.

Julieta Natalí Puntín


Julieta Natalí Puntín is a teacher of English graduated in 2018 from UADER (Universidad Autónoma de Entre Rios) Argentina. As an educator of a second and foreign language, she works at primary, secondary schools and also at a private institute of English learning. Julieta finds teaching a life-learning practice which cannot be but understood also as a day to day challenge. Apart from teaching, Julieta has been involved in sport; specifically, she has participated in volleyball, beach volleyball, and snow volleyball competitions in Argentina and in other countries as well. She enjoys nature, travelling, sports, and sharing some “mates” while making friends.

As regards her connection to Slovenia, Julieta is a fourth-generation Slovenian descendant in Argentina after her great grandfather’s arrival in the 1880s. She has been participating in different activities held by the “Triglav” Association of Slovenian descendants in Entre Rios, and she has always dreamt of visiting this distant country, and appreciating in person its history, culture, language and essence.

She is grateful to ASEF for opening this door to a unique learning adventure. It is her firm belief that she will be encountering a myriad of opportunities and acquiring first-hand knowledge, values and experiences at a personal and professional level. Her visit will take place in Ljubljana at Erudio High School, where she will be able to exchange and share experiences, and most importantly, to gain knowledge from qualified and highly trained educators in all aspects of teaching and learning. Indeed, this Fellowship Program means improvement and growth, which will definitely mark her life for good.

María Soledad Barrionuevo


María Soledad Barrionuevo is about to get her degree in History at the University of Buenos Aires (UBA), where she is also an Undergraduate Teaching Assistant in the chairs of Sociology and History of Spain. Soledad has participated in research projects in History and has written articles and papers about Primož Trubar and Janez Vajkard Valvasor for academic journals and lectures. Besides doing research, she is also interested in teaching. In recent years, she has delivered classes open to the community (students and non-students) in the same university, where she taught one course about Trubar’s Reformation.

Soledad will be working under the mentorship of Ddr. Igor Grdina, a member of the Institute of Cultural History ZRC SAZU in Ljubljana. She is looking forward to continuing her research about Slovene Early Modern Cultural History − she is currently writing her BA thesis about Valvasor −, and getting in contact with experts in this field. This experience will also help her to develop Slovene studies in Argentina.

Since she believes that languages are an important aspect of research, she has knowledge of Latin and has learnt other modern languages, such as Slovenian, German, Croatian, and English. She is currently working as an English teacher.

Mariana Cecilia Grohar


Mariana Cecilia Grohar is a Ph.D. student in Botany. Born and raised in Buenos Aires in a Slovenian family, she is now looking to continue her professional development in Slovenia. After ten years of research experience in plant taxonomy and morphology, she is particularly interested in the description and management of endangered or invasive plant species, as well as the communication of scientific knowledge to the general public. She will be working with Dr. Jernej Jogan at the University of Ljubljana, where she expects to develop a new insight into the Slovenian flora and research techniques used in its study and management. She is passionate about Slovenian culture natural beauties, so she is really excited to live and work in Slovenia!

Mariela Belén Sebernich


Mariela Belén Sebernich is an architect and teaches drawing and painting. She’s Slovenian descendent from her father’s side. Her great grandparents Juan Sebernich and Maria Podversic arrived in Argentina in the first immigration of 1880 with their children, among them, her great grandfather Angel Sebernich. Currently, she finds herself working as an administrator in a private company and as an architect in her study. She’s beginning research surveying the households, which remain intact, built by the first Slovenian immigrants in the countryside of Cerrito, Entre Rios, and detecting the construction materials and typology of these houses to find similarities to the primitive ones in Slovenia. She teaches drawing and painting at the Retirees and Pensioners Association of the National University of the Littoral (UNL), where she was also an intern professor at the beginning of her academic education.

She is a part of the Triglav Slovenian Association of Entre Rios, where she invests her time spreading the Slovenian culture throughout the providence. She graduated in architecture at the UNL with her final thesis on sustainable architecture, oriented on energy saving, a subject she wishes to keep learning throughout her professional practice. In 2017, she organized a trip to Slovenia and some other European countries. Since that moment, she knew she would want to come back and learn more about the history of her ancestors and also about the Slovenian architecture. In her free time, she enjoys long walks, reading novels, watching movies, and taking make up courses. This year, she enrolled in the Visual Arts professorship.

Nadia Magister


Nadia Magister was born in Bariloche, a beautiful Argentinian town at the bottom of the Andes Cordillera, surrounded by mountains, the Nahuel Huapi Lake, and nature all around. Her four grandparents were born in Slovenia, and because of WW2, they had to leave their homes. They arrived in the big city of Buenos Aires, but it was said that in Patagonia there is a place similar to Slovenia. And so, the ones who were alpinists and mountain lovers moved there. They were searching for a little piece of their so missed home, in a new country. And there they found it, in Bariloche, where they built their new home, passing on the huge love for their country, the culture, traditions, language to their children and grandchildren.

Each person has a passion. And it is said that once we find it, we cannot silence it. Nadia’s passion is music, singing. Even though she has a degree in Fashion Design in the Buenos Aires University, and works with the design too; she followed her passion and studied solo singing at “Conservatorio Superior de Música Manuel de Falla” in Buenos Aires, and two years ago she started the Ancient Music Graduate Course at the same institution. She comes from a family where music surrounded her since she was born, with a mum who is a musician, and a dad who is always in contact with music; they transmitted to her five brothers and her the love for music. This is part of who she is, and where does the motivation of going to Slovenia to go on with her singing career, comes from.

She is extremely grateful for the ASEF Fellowship opportunity, where she is going to be mentored by soprano Theresa Plut. Nadia knows that having the possibility of working and sharing with musicians from another country will challenge her to a new level, where she will grow from a professional perspective and a personal one as well.

Natasha Ianina Urbančič


Natasha Ianina Urbančič is a 28 years old teacher with a certificate in early childhood education from the “Instituto Superior Docente Santo Domingo de Ramos Mejía”, Buenos Aires, Argentina. She defines herself as a proactive, enthusiastic, sociable and collaborative, always committed to her work and trying to innovate with new strategies about different educational theories. Her grandparents from father’s side were born in Slovenia. From her mother’s side, her grandfather was born in Pennsylvania, United States of America, and her grandmother was born in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but they both moved to Slovenia during their childhood. Natasha’s whole family grew around the Slovenian culture. Throughout the generations, they worked to preserve the traditions and language of that beautiful country. From a very young age, she attended the Slovenian Club of the City of San Justo, Buenos Aires, and participated in many events that the Club held.

She also assisted at the France Balantič Slovenian primary school and at Slovenian High School Marko Bajuk, where she solidified her knowledge of the Slovenian language. Professional growth is one of her priorities; she considers that participating in the Fellowship will provide her tools and knowledge to be the best teacher she can be. She is very excited about learning from the Slovenian educational system and spending time in the homeland of her grandparents. Next December, Natasha will be attending the Dr. France Prešeren Kindergarten, located in Ljubljana. She is going to meet the Principal Maja Kunaver and work on the Fellowship details, which includes gaining knowledge about different learning disorders. She is incredibly grateful for this Fellowship experience!