Bring Together Lithuania
Aleksa Groen in ’t Woud | Bring Together LT'22 stories
Labas! My name is Aleksa and I am from Toronto, Canada. I am currently studying Life Sciences at Queen’s University, and this summer, as part of the Bring Together Lithuania program, I completed my internship with “Vilnius Sveikiau”: The Public Health Bureau of Vilnius.
I chose to participate in the Bring Together Lithuania program, as it was the perfect opportunity to finally visit the country of my ancestors. I am fortunate that throughout my life, I have been immersed in an active Lithuanian community in Toronto, yet I had never been to Lithuania! Traveling the country was an important part of my criteria for my stay in Lithuania, however, I was also able to expand my knowledge about my field of study by completing a one-of-a-kind internship with “Vilnius Sveikiau”.
My internship with “Vilnius Sveikiau” was such a unique and eye-opening experience. When looking for internships in Lithuania, I was eager to find a placement that was different from the internships that I could find back home in Canada. Working in the public sector of Lithuania’s capital has allowed me to compare the priorities and strategies of public health between Vilnius and Toronto, and has provided me with many more connections in my professional career. I am so thankful that Bring Together Lithuania has given me an internship experience that has been a positive influence on my life, and has allowed me to discover my Lithuanian heritage.
I would 100% recommend the Bring Together Lithuania program to any Lithuanian diaspora
youth. My Lithuanian heritage plays a large role in my life, and I have kept this alive at home
through Saturday school, folk dancing, scouting, summer camps, and so many more activities. None of these activities compare to actually visiting Lithuania, especially as a young adult. Traveling with a group of people who are as passionate as I am about my Lithuanian cultural identity was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I will forever be grateful to the Bring Together Lithuania program directors for providing me the opportunity to create lasting friendships. The weekend trips we took were very memorable, my favourite being the Klaipėda/Nida trip. At home, my sea scouting group “Baltijos Laivas”, is named after the Baltic Sea, and the summer camp that I attended as a child is named after the region on the Curonian Spit, “Neringa”. Finally visiting these places in Lithuania was emotional and cathartic, and has definitely made an everlasting impact on my life.
All in all, my outlook on Lithuania has changed for the better, and I am beyond excited to return. My Lithuanian language has improved, I have learned a lot about myself and what values I wish to implement into my life, and have met so many amazing new people. I am forever indebted to the Bring Together Lithuania program coordinators, the Kazickas Family Foundation and the Lithuanian Foundation, for providing me with the most memorable experiences of my life, for allowing me to grow professionally, and for connecting me with other participants who I can call some of my greatest friends. Ačiū!