Country coordinators

Interpret Europe’s country coordinators take responsibility for the development of heritage interpretation and of Interpret Europe in single European countries. At present there are 14 country coordinators leading their own teams:

Dorina Xheraj-Subashi

Country Coordinator Albania

After finishing my bachelor’s degree at Bologna University, I came back to my home country, Albania, where I continued my study in Archaeology (Master of Science) and, years later, earned a PhD in Museology. During this period, I was employed as a lecturer of Cultural Heritage and Albanian Museology at Aleksander Moisiu University, where I still work and share my experiences with my students. I love teaching and giving students the best examples of heritage interpretation, not only because they need to acquire knowledge on their tourism studies, but because they should understand that heritage needs different skills applied to several contexts.

In November 2017, I initiated a cultural activity called “My Heritage-Heritage4All”, focused on the past heritage of everyday life and its presentation in an academic environment, such as a university. It was the first step where the students were at the core of it with their personal heritage objects, preserved in their houses for decades or almost a century. This initiative helped to involve people and create a cultural environment followed by dialogue and shared personal stories and memories of the objects, as well as by performed skills.

I hope to combine both academic studies and professional experiences from other IE members, to better contribute to interpreting heritage in academic curricula, freelancer guides and interpreters in Albania.

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Laila De Bruyne

Country Coordinator Belgium

We believe that heritage interpretation enriches people personally, affects our society in a positive way and fosters a love for heritage that results in everyone taking greater responsibility for ensuring heritage thrives for future generations.

After I finished my master’s in history and master’s in cultural management in 2010, I worked at the university of Antwerp as an educational assistant. During my full-time job, I achieved my educational diploma which gave me the skills and knowledge to give young people the opportunity to learn about history. But I wasn’t convinced the classroom was the only or the perfect environment to learn. I changed jobs and started to explore the heritage sector from the inside.

Stories about places, buildings and objects had fascinated me throughout my whole life and so I was thrilled to use my enthusiasm and experience at The National Trust of Flanders, Herita. During those years I sharpened my project management skills through being involved in all kind of projects: from heritage event coordination and supporting heritage educational projects to the creation of knowledge-sharing products like videos, articles, websites and (international) conferences on heritage. In this period, I got to know Interpret Europe very well because I was Conference Manager for IE’s conference in Mechelen in 2016. A whole new perspective on informal learning and on the profession of ‘heritage interpretation’ opened up for me and has held me ever since.

Also, during this period, there occurred the most important thing that changed my view on society and the role of culture in it. Together with my best friend, I founded Allez, Chantez!, which is a movement to let people sing together and build stronger communities. A journey of searching how to create an impact on society through singing communities started then. My view on how participation, co-creation and taking ownership are strong tools to give people the power to discover themselves, make connections and contribute to a warm and mutually supportive society all became visible, tangible and meaningful to me. In all the projects we do, we place the people of a community in the centre and use a bottom-up approach. This is the way I want to build stronger communities in society, through accessible cultural initiatives like singing (because everybody can use their voices) and through heritage. Because I believe heritage, and places you connect with, have the power to bring people together and shape warm communities. Two passions combined in this way.

After a period of internal focus, becoming a mother of two beautiful and inspiring kids, I felt I wanted to spread my wings and follow my heart. I recently started my freelance career and plan to deal with (heritage and singing) community building projects and heritage interpretation in reusing projects. After some years working as a volunteer, I am now working as a freelance contractor on the project. As a member of the board of Madeleine vzw, the legal headquarters of Allez, Chantez!, my business partner Annelore Camps and I share our knowledge on cultural entrepreneurship and community building in the cultural sector in Flanders.

I feel as a freelancer I can combine my two passions: heritage and community building. I am ready and convinced that contributing to projects which give natural and cultural heritage a deeper meaning is how I can serve society and how I can build stronger communities.

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Edo Mešić

Country Coordinator Bosnia and Herzegovina

I lead a group of professionals from various scientific fields involved in the interpretation of natural and cultural heritage in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We organise capacity building for the promotion of heritage in our country, through the organisation of workshops, presentations, courses, training, and projects.

I live in Sarajevo and studied archeology at the Faculty of Philosophy, and art, at the University of Sarajevo where I got my BA and master’s diploma. I received a BiHERIT Tempus scholarship, financed by the EU with the aim of reforming the heritage sciences in Bosnia and Herzegovina. This led to a student exchange at the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Ljubljana.

From July 2016 until December 2017, I worked as a volunteer in the National Museum of Bosnia and Herzegovina, in the pedagogical department, and as a museum guide in the archeological department. Together with my fellow students, I am coauthor of an exhibition dedicated to the famous Bosnian archeologist, Đuro Basler. During my studies, I was involved in numerous archeological work on national protected sites, which took place in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Slovenia. I was also involved with the Commission to Preserve National Monuments of Bosnia and Herzegovina on promoting 2013’s International day of Archeology in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

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Andrijana Milisavljević

Country Coordinator Croatia

I was always enthusiastic about tourism, travelling and exploring new places and people. As a tourist and as a worker in the tourism sector, I like stories that connect us with places where people lived and are still living, about the history and the magic between history and nature, culture and intangible culture.
I was introduced to the principles of heritage interpretation in the CIG and CIP courses that I went to They are like great bridges among some of my biggest interests in life – stories, tourism, people and architecture with a note of the higher and ethical principles of life and sustainability.
And that’s what I admire and like in the Interpret Europe organization. I want to be a part of this: following and searching for higher purposes in both small and large things that surround us, working on sustainability in different ways, helping to connect people and helping to spread these ideas as much as possible.
As an independent entrepreneur for almost 10 years, I have good experience in working and creating jobs in a given environment. I’m also good at finding the best solutions (financial and legal) to meet my goals. I think and hope that my life experience can help to spread the ideas of Interpret Europe in good and realistic ways throughout Croatia and beyond.
Throughout my life experience, I have gained skills supporting heritage interpretation in many different ways. I worked as a journalist for a couple of years in different newspaper companies and as a radio host. After that, my life went in the direction of tourism, where I graduated in tourism and sports management. I gained experience working in one well-known tourist center in Croatia, and I also worked as a tourist guide.
At the moment (after the last 10 years), I am working in an architectural design office where I’m a co-founder. Here we encourage green building and sustainable development, but we have also worked on some interesting projects regarding heritage interpretation.
I constantly work on my education and strongly believe in lifelong education. Learning new things and skills is something that gives me the most pleasure.
I’m looking forward to our new projects and research about heritage interpretation with my team and members.

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Barbora Dvořáková

Country Coordinator Czech Republic

Together with my team we do our best to connect places and topics with what people love and care about. That is why we organise training, promote Interpret Europe and show best practices in interpretation.

I graduated in environmental science at Charles University in Prague. During my studies, I worked for an NGO focused on environmental education and developed my passion for new approaches and methods in education. I was lucky to attend several scholarships and training events abroad.

I also spent one year in educational institutions in the UK. This included Bristol Zoo, which is one of the most exciting places ever especially when playing with a lonely lemur is part of your job! That was also when my ‘interpretation journey’ begin as I was really inspired by heritage interpretation in the UK.

In my job in the Centre for Modern Education (a Czech-based educational company) I was responsible for managing educational projects with key partners and big European projects. I created e-learning, educational games, materials and exhibitions that inspired thousands of people (including the educational content for an award-winning exhibition The story of Planet Earth in the Czech National Museum).

Currently I am working partly as the local coordinator of the international Ecoschool project and as a freelancer in the field of interpretation. Despite being Czech, I do not like beer, but I love good wine and coffee (and I am very excited about Brno’s great coffee scene!).

I am very excited to be part of the IE country coordinators team as I feel there is so much work to be done in our country. As Terry Pratchett said: “People think that stories are shaped by people. In fact, it’s the other way around.”

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Árpád Bőczén

Country Coordinator Hungary

We help the national heritage sector with training, conferences, publications and consultancy to understand a deeper meaning of interpretation and apply its methodologies in practice. 

As an architect and cultural heritage manager, I have always been very interested in the human – and especially the socio-cultural – aspects of my professional work. Encouraging people and communities to take an active part in shaping their environment and living spaces whilst developing existing heritage based on value has played a significant role in my practice. Building spaces and structures is equally important for me as building communities. I started dealing with interpretation because I felt that this field can have a similar, or even stronger impact on the consciousness of people’s actions and behaviours in spaces they use. The language of a place to interpret is very similar to the genius loci architects always try tograsp . After years of learning in practice how to achieve both, I felt that I needed more of my own experience but also thoughts shared by others. However, the opportunities for professional discussions, debates and exchanges in heritage interpretation are very limited in Hungary. Therefore, as the president of the Hungarian Association of Cultural Heritage Managers (KÖME), I applied for IE membership in 2013.

In KÖME, we consider heritage interpretation to be a very important part of heritage management, if not its main purpose. Therefore, we consider it crucial to organise programmes and to create communication channels that help reveal, explain and give value to our common heritage.

Besides this, our aim is to create and maintain domestic and international platforms which help experts of various domains – engaged in the research, preservation, social utilisation, protection and distribution of the broadly defined cultural heritage – to meet each other, to learn, find partners, share ideas and realise their own projects in accordance with the association’s objectives.

As interpretation is a field that concerns most of the heritage related professions, the association intends to play an important role in representing and promoting this approach in Hungary. KÖME also aims to foster the establishment of a regional group within the Interpret Europe network, strengthen collaboration and develop specific agendas relevant to Central and Eastern Europe (CEE).

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Vanessa Vaio

Country Coordinator Italy

I was born in Genova, Italy, in 1968 and I’m a compulsive learner. Since gaining my Natural Science degree at the University of Pavia in 1994, I have never stopped studying and acquiring new competences from garden and landscape planning and management to heritage interpretation and interpretive planning, and more recently in cultural marketing and planning.

I’ve been working mainly in promoting scientific and cultural awareness and in disseminating cultural expression in various fields. I worked first with WWF (World Wildlife Fund) and in 1999 I founded and directed an association for scientific and environmental education called Proteus. We worked with Italian and Ticino (Switzerland) public institutions to reveal the results of their scientific studies.

I’m full of ideas and highly creative, I love team work and figuring out how people who are very different can work together productively.

In 2009, I founded Studio PAN, a consultancy hub of experts that offers technical support to private and public entities, mainly historical gardens and villas. Our team consists of multidisciplinary experts whose creative work leads to a customized interpretive master planning of heritage sites, design of interpretive programmes, services and means. I’m also a trainer, probably the activity I like the most. I inspire individuals, guides, museum educators and teachers because I am intrigued with the unique qualities of each person.

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Blerta Begolli

Blerta Harxhi Begolli

Country Coordinator Kosovo

My 22 years of experience are all very different. From 1999, I worked with international organizations until 2016. Since 2016 I have been a part of the Municipality of Peja, Directorate of Economic Development, in the Tourism sector, working as a Senior Project Planning Officer.
I am one of the founders of the cultural organization Promotion of Heritage Management WEST.
From 2012 to2016, I was Executive Director of the first Local NGO in Peja, PHM -WEST.
I worked for one year as a coordinator in the Project for Culture and Diversification in Kosovo (Council of Europe).
from 2004 to 2011, I worked as a consultant and a project associate in the Returns Projects with UNDP.
In 2004, I worked as a project assistant with the INTERSOS’ Confidence Building through Cultural Heritage Project.
From 2001 to 2002, I was the Project Coordinator at Kosovo Centre for Human Rights
From 1999 to 2001 my experience started with OSCE as an administrative assistant and then as a senior election assistant.

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Bojana Sekulić

Country Coordinator Montenegro

With my team we work on promoting and establishing heritage interpretation on a national level. 

I graduated from the Faculty of Economics in Podgorica in 1998 and after my studies I did various office jobs. However, the value of tourism that I discovered during my two-year experience in one tourist agency inspired my efforts to continue my tourism story.

From 2011 to 2016, I was engaged as a Project Coordinator on numerous projects in the tourism industry. The results of these successfully-accomplished, cross-border projects are regional thematic trails and new tourism products such as the Via Dinarica, Shkoder / Skadar Lake Ethno-gastronomic Route and Honey Routes through Durmitor and Herzegovina. These activities were funded by the European Union within the IPA CBC Programmes.

Then, as a tourism development expert, I was engaged by several NGOs, local and national authorities, to develop the feasibility studies and strategies of some national and cross-border destinations – the Cijevna River (2014), Šasko Lake (2015) and the regional initiative Tur.Grate2 (2014). In addition, I was a member of the expert team engaged in the action to develop the projects of setting up thematic trails in national parks in Montenegro (2015).

I am now working as a hiking guide licensed by the Montenegrin Mountaineering Association. Through creating and leading hiking tours, I present my country – its nature, people, their lifestyle, gastronomy, products, history, culture and tradition. At the same time, I support local people to earn from tourism as well as from agriculture, and make sure that tourists from all over the world have a great experience. In that way I contribute to the sustainability of the projects I was engaged in.

My enthusiasm to develop an integrated approuch to heritage is the main reason for my interest in the initiatives that diversify and promote tourism products of Montenegro as well as improving regional cooperation. Having this in mind, I believe the Interpret Europe network is a force for good in giving a new dimension to the understanding of natural and cultural heritage and contributing to sustainable development.

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Nada Andonovska

Country Coordinator North Macedonia

With my team we work on promoting and establishing heritage interpretation on a national level.

My first encounter with alternative presentation and interpretation of heritage was in 1995 during the General Conference of the International Council of Museums (ICOM) held in Stavanger, Norway. The video of costumed characters telling a story to kids in a museum made a lasting impression on me. I believe that was the moment when I set my personal mission to persue alternative ways of interpreting heritage. In 1997 I presented the paper, “New Methods and Devices in Presentation and Interpretation of Museum Materials”, at the Annual Conference of the Macedonian National Committee of the International Council of Museums and it was published in the journal Museologica Macedonica.

In the past few years my interest slightly shifted to the field of intangible heritage, especially to its links with the identity of its bearers. Having wished to contribute to the research in this domain of heritage in a scholarly and scientific manner, I got enrolled at the Postgraduate Cultural Studies of the Institute of Macedonian Literature in Skopje. I am currently working on my master thesis, “Intangible Cultural Heritage in Macedonia and in International Frames”.

Contact with the mission of Interpret Europe brought me back on track. My desire for conveying the value and meaning of heritage to other people was re-ignited after being acquainted with the interpretive approach in communicating it. So, the CIG and CIT courses revealed to me the ingenious methodology and techniques of implementing this approach. Although I might not have a chance to apply them in guiding of visitors, I believe I could make a difference transferring them by training other people. As IE Country Coordinator, I hope to successfully disseminate the interpretive approach to presenting cultural and natural heritage.

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Kristian Bjørnstad

Country Coordinator Norway

With my team we work on promoting and establishing heritage interpretation on a national level. 

My educational background is in Human Ecology and Education, specialising in sustainable development and regional parks. I hold Master’s degrees from Lund University in Sweden and Florida State University in the United States. At present I am attached to the Norwegian University of Life Sciences.

Intending to research the emerging regional parks in Norway ten years ago, I instead became active in the regional parks movement. Since then I have been involved in establishing the Norwegian Parks Association and am now the Secretariat Director for this small but growing organisation. I am also building links between regional-nature parks in the Nordic countries and the rest of Europe.

I became interested in heritage interpretation through planning work in the Nćrøyfjord World Heritage Park on the west coast of Norway. I am especially interested in how heritage interpretation can be used in parks and protected areas to connect people with place and to create good visitor experiences.

In 2016 I participated in Interpret Europe`s CIG course and the CIG trainer course. I am looking forward to increasing the interest for interpretation in Norway and the Nordic countries.  With Swedish partners, I am organising the first Scandinavian CIG course and launching a project on forest interpretation.

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Eliza Marin

Country Coordinator Romania

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I was born in 1991 and studied at the University of Bucharest, receiving a degree, in 2009, in European Studies. I concluded my academic development with a master’s degree in World Heritage Studies. Because of my new study programme, I emigrated first to Germany, in 2013, where I trained and researched for a short period before spending longer in Turkey, Albania, and Finland before I settled back home.

Through my training, I have had first-hand experience in researching the identification, assessment and management of diverse heritage sites in Europe. For example, I drafted a financial plan for Suomenlinna World Heritage site, researched the nomination of Rosia Montana on the UNESCO InDanger list as a cultural landscape and examined the expansion of the ancient and primeval beech forests of the Carpathians and other regions of Europe.

As an emerging World Heritage professional, I have had the chance to collaborate with institutions that deal with both legislation and research of heritage. The resulting understanding has steered my decision to dedicate the final stage of my second academic degree to studying biodiversity protection through ecotourism and agroforestry in a protected area for my master’s thesis.

Considerable exposure to rural agricultural practices in Romania has given me a valuable insight into assessing the genotypes of crops and animals and ecological conditions, and understanding the local management of ecosystems. This was informed by values-based and people-centred approaches which I consider extremely relevant and applicable to the sustainability debate.

My latest activities as a speaker are delivering workshops on heritage activism within Balkan organizations and facilitating conferences on heritage at the European Council. Today, I offer independent consultancy and research in the field of heritage management.

Why interpretation, you might ask?

I had my first encounter with interpretation during my training with Cultural Heritage without Borders. During my thesis, I studied one of the most diverse biodiversity locations in Europe, but I ended up having trouble finding a field that would aid me in valorizing the site in a non-imposing way and informing the managers of practices that were achievable.

At the time I didn’t know it was called interpretation but, with little research, I found something that seemed promising.

Since I have come in contact with heritage interpretation, it seems as though I have learned another language: an idiom of kindness and simplicity, of listening and communicating more effectively. I do not any way want to imply that interpretation will solve all conservational problems or other self-fabricating issues that our generation faces. What I do believe is in interpretation’s potential to relate to and include people in experiencing heritage in a more meaningful manner. At the same time, working together in a European context could facilitate a more realistic and measurable way to manage the challenges of safeguarding nature and culture.

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Marija Fajdiga

Country Coordinator Slovenia

With my team we work on promoting and establishing heritage interpretation on a national level. 

I’m a  Ranger at Park Škocjanske jame, Slovenija. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site where I can experience first hand contact with visitors from around the world. I’m a cave and local guide. This work allows me  to experiment with diffrent approches to guiding and to interpreting heritage. 

I was born in 1969 in Postojna where there is also another famouse cave; this means that Karst country is my home. For as long as I can remember, I have been interested in the phenomena around me and also in all the old stories told to me by the old folk I met. I have always had a feeling that we must preserve that knowlege and those values because one day someone will want to know about them.

I started my studies of nature at high school and continued them in the Biotechnical faculty at the University of Ljubljana., , My subject was Zootechnic or simply animal husbandry. During my studies, I went to Tuscany in Italy where I gained experience as well as professional knowledge and saw an interesting approach to countryside living.

Working with NGOs, I had the oportunity to lead some national and international projects, where I gainde skills and knowledge on project and team work. I’m convinced that only a good team can do great things.

My first close encounter with Interpret Europe was at the conference in Primošten, Croatia, in 2014.  In 2017, I pass the IE CIG course with Janja Sivec; in 2019 I also passed the IE Trainers course at Osijek, Croatia and in April 2020 I recived the IE Trainer’s certificate. Finally, I passed the IE Training for Hosts  course in May 2021.

I belive that Interpret Europe has many good solutions for heritage interpretation and is providing useful tools to undertaking it. That’s why I’m happy to be part of this great team and I hope to contribute something to our Slovenian IE family.

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Nataliia Gudkova

Country Coordinator Ukraine

With my team we work on promoting and establishing heritage interpretation on a national level. 

I’m an Assistant Professor at the State Ecological Academy of Postgraduate Education and Management in Ukraine. I specialise in adult environmental education and protected area management and promote ideas and principles of heritage interpretation and sustainable development in Ukraine.

I hold a PhD degree in Biology, MSc degree in protected area management (Alpen-Adria University Klagenfurt, Austria), and also graduated from Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv (Ukraine). I have been a scientific expert in the UNDP/GEF Project “Strengthening Governance and Financial Sustainability of the National Protected Area System in Ukraine” (2008-2011).

My involvement in heritage interpretation started in 2012 with activities related to conservation biology and nature interpretation within the framework of the MATRA/MAVA Project “Building capacity for biodiversity conservation in Ukraine: network and training support” of the Ukrainian Environmental Club “Green Wave”.

In 2016, I participated in Interpret Europe`s Certified Interpretive Guide (CIG) course and the CIG trainer course. In partnership with the US Forest Service and the National Association for Interpretation (NAI), I have coordinated a project on nature interpretation and organised the first CIG course in Ukraine. My current interests also include arranging engaging heritage interpretation to facilitate pleasant and valuable visitor experiences.

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