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Prof. Alenka Fikfak, PhD, Faculty of Architecture, University of Ljubljana, was awarded the title of Congress ambassador of Slovenia 2019 for organizing the international meeting 'Public spaces for local life / A joint event of EU Human Cities and AESOP Thematic Group Public Spaces and Urban Cultures'. She is part of the Ljubljana Ambassador Club.

Ambasadorji Alenka EN2

How would you describe the process of organizing professional / scientific meetings in Ljubljana?

The process is always very demanding: it requires constant negotiation between all stakeholders involved. The satisfaction of the participants depends on the fast response and efficient communication from the organizers. It’s also important to know that the process does not end with the event itself. I believe the real virtue of an event organizer lies in the activities between one event and its sequel, in answering the question of how can a high quality meeting motivate the participants, who eventually become friends, to come back and enjoy Ljubljana once again.

What were the biggest joys and challenges for you, and what is the most important lesson you have learnt & would pass on to your younger colleagues?

My greatest joy is the final satisfacton of everyone involved; the delegates as well as the people I work with every day. For me the most important lesson is realizing that social programme (presenting the local atmosphere, diversity, attractions to the delegates, etc.) is just as important as the scientific part. The event that focuses only on scientific contributions can quickly become just another meeting without a personal touch, the one that attendees easily forget.

What do you see as the biggest advantages of Ljubljana as a congress destination, and which are its greatest potential yet to be developed?

The biggest advantage of Ljubljana is its size; it’s also well connected and easily accessible. As a delegate you have the opportunity to escape to the city center and experience the Old Town whenever you want to. You’re also able to quickly return back the conference hall, which is great from my own experience. When I’m attending meetings abroad, I always like to explore the destination on my own but I can only afford two hours away, not more. Ljubljana allows you to spend two hours in the city, get to know it and even find your favourite spot - and take it home with you in a form of an intimate memory, for example, that is just yours. I find this truly beautiful.

What does being a Slovenian congress ambassador mean to you personally and professionally?

Funnily enough, this title made me realize how much I enjoy organizing such events (although it can be also very challenging, of course). The title itself is something special to me because I am really much more aware of my love for event organizing now than I used to be before.

What is your definition of a perfect day?

I'd probably say my idea of a perfect day would be lying on the beach and daydreaming. The problem is that this perfect day is just an illusion as I'm sure I would quickly become bored and start looking for new challenges.

A special experience during the Coronavirus time you could share?

In February and March two Japanese researchers were visiting lecturers at our faculty. On their way back home they got stuck in Split in Croatia. In early May they organized a virtual round table on topics that are currently trending in the architectural cirlces, especially the ones about the aims and use of open spaces once the pandemic is over. It was eye opening and yet surreal.