The last we heard of University Professor Fred Kohun, Ph.D., he was stranded in Slovenia thanks to the Icelandic volcano known as Eyjafjallajokull (please don’t ask us how to pronounce it).
Kohun was stuck in the city of Celje, where he had been invited by the Ministry of Education to conduct workshops for students and teachers at the International School for Social and Business Studies.
Fortunately, his friend Dr. Dušan Lesjak, who had brought him to Slovenia in the first place, introduced him to Tomaž Orešič, who is friends with the CEO of Lufthansa and was able to procure a ticket for Kohun. He finally arrived back in the States on April 26. But even that turned out to be an adventure.
“I left Frankfurt, Germany, on Sunday and got to D.C. at 1:30 p.m.,” said Kohun. “But due to storms, I didn’t leave for Pittsburgh until 4 a.m.”
As it turned out, being stranded in an eastern European country wasn’t all that bad. Lesjak tried to make Kohun’s stay as comfortable as possible and even gave him access to a Smart Car. “That was pretty cool,” said Kohun. Until, that is, he realized it had absolutely no oil in it. Apparently 8 out of 10 Slovenian cars are running on little or no oil, mainly because a liter of it runs around $15 a pop. Kohun discovered this when he stopped at the nearest gas station to purchased some. “That was another adventure,” he said. “Not only did they speak no English whatsoever, but then I ended up spilling the oil on my pants.”
During his extended stay, Kohun made a lot of connections with the locals and even helped one family knock out a wall in their home for renovations. He also learned a little bit of Slovenian and even got the chance to visit his great-grandparents’ gravesite.
The one negative of the trip was the feeling of hopelessness he encountered among many of the students, due to the unsettled state of the European economy. “That’s something I’ve never seen in any of my previous trips to Europe,” he said. “The students are just so confused as to their direction.” He added that, in comparison, the financial woes we’re experiencing here in the States are really nothing compared to what’s going on across the Atlantic.
Kohun hopes to return to Slovenia in June when he’s traveling to Italy for the InSITE 2010 Conference, where he’s receiving a best paper award for work he did with a doctoral student.
He certainly learned his lesson on this trip, though. “Next time, I’m buying insurance for sure.”
Click HERE to watch a video of Dr. Kohun’s April 14, 2010 presentation at the International School for Social and Business Studies in Slovenia.
-- Valentine J. Brkich