Bring Together Lithuania'22 stories | Eva Lasys
My name is Eva and I study law in Berlin. While my whole family continues to live in Lithuania, my parents emigrated to Germany, which is where my sister and I were born and spent our entire lives. As we did not know other Lithuanians in our area, we were unfortunately never part of a Lithuanian community. Therefore, my experience with being Lithuanian was limited to our small family and holidays we occasionally spent in Lithuania.
Especially after having moved out, I realized that it was starting to become difficult to stay in touch with my heritage and that I did not feel very comfortable speaking Lithuanian anymore. Thus, I began to look for opportunities to strengthen my relationship with Lithuania. I was originally only looking to do an internship because I was set on gaining professional experience and I thought that doing it in Lithuania would hopefully allow me to visit the country again. However, I was very fortunate to find this program as it is far better than a mere visit.
"Bring Together Lithuania" turned out to be much more than I could have wished or hoped for. It offers support and guidance when it comes to professional aspirations as well as to the question of what it means to be Lithuanian. At the same time, the program creates a warm and kind community of like-minded Lithuanian people. Finally, "Bring Together Lithuania" provides a very exciting and diverse program. We visited different companies and governmental institutions almost every day, which complemented the internship very well. Consequently, I was very excited about being part of the program this summer.
I did my internship with Transparency International Lithuania, which I am very happy about. I am interested in the work of NGOs and civil society because of their role in societal development and transformation, which I was always seeking to learn more about in university. However, I had not had the opportunity to see for myself what working at an NGO could look like in practice. Therefore, it was very interesting and insightful to be granted the opportunity to not only observe Transparency’s work but also be able to contribute from day one by helping with multiple different tasks. I had the chance to speak to many different people and everyone I worked with and met was very professional, yet nice and welcoming at the same time. This provided a great work environment that I really enjoyed. Although I mostly used English, I was even able to practice my Lithuanian in a professional setting, which I had never done before. For all these reasons, my internship was a very valuable experience that allowed for both personal and professional growth, so I am very grateful to have had this opportunity.
All the companies and public institutions we visited helped me get an insight into what the job market is like in Lithuania. We met with many interesting, market-leading employers in fields that I had not previously considered before. This allowed me to broaden my horizons and learn about many different professions, thus adding to my career goals and perspectives, both in Lithuania and abroad. We were always encouraged to ask questions and be curious and many meetings we had were also enriched by open discussions about a multitude of different topics and issues. Our group, while being similar due to our shared Lithuanian roots, was still very diverse when it came to our academic backgrounds and places we grew up in, so it was always interesting to hear opinions and experiences from all different perspectives. In consequence, there was not one meeting that I left without having gained some insight. One of my favourite experiences was when we (somewhat unexpectedly) got to talk to an employee of a company who was, among other, a human rights advocate. We had a very interesting and inspiring discussion about issues that we are passionate about, and she then helped us think of questions we could ask members of parliament the next day when we visited the Seimas. It was great!
Another big component of "Bring Together Lithuania" is the multitude of cultural and fun activities. We had many city and museum tours as well as trips outside of Vilnius, while also having enough free time to explore everything on our own. One of the most fun days that I will never forget was during our seaside trip. We woke up very early to take the ferry from Klaipėda to Neringa, so that we could make multiple sightseeing stops before spending the afternoon in Nida. Although the conditions were quite rough as we were treated to a true Lithuanian “summer” with very unpredictable weather, we did not miss out on seeing anything and we had an indescribable amount of fun. After we returned to Klaipėda in the evening, the entire group went to theatre square to join a festival where we then folk danced till midnight and left completely overjoyed.
However, in my opinion, the main reason that made every aspect of the program so fun, memorable, and important was the group that we created. Even outside of the program we did everything together, even if that just meant going to the supermarkets to shop for our favourite Lithuanian foods, going to play pool three nights in a row, or of course, exploring Vilnius. Thanks to "Bring Together Lithuania" I found the Lithuanian community that I was looking for in Germany. It was so valuable to talk about our common experiences of what it is like growing up Lithuanian abroad. Relating to everyone was very easy as we had a mutual understanding for one another, thus we were able to simply share and appreciate our culture together. It was also very touching for me to see how much Lithuania means to other people, both diaspora members and Lithuanians. This has inspired me to appreciate and safeguard my heritage and language more than I have before. The program also provided the best environment to practice speaking Lithuanian as there was absolutely no pressure and it did not matter if we made mistakes.
After the program has ended, I am endlessly happy and grateful to now be able to call everyone my friends. We have all already made plans to see each other again and to return to Lithuania many more times. I believe the fact that no one wanted the program to end, and that saying goodbye was very hard, is the most reliable indicator of how good "Bring Together Lithuania" is. I would once again like to thank the "Bring Together Lithuania" team for gifting me with all these opportunities. It was an indescribable privilege to be able to participate in this program and I will treasure this experience forever. Consequently, I of course wholeheartedly recommend "Bring Together Lithuania" to everyone who is even only slightly interested, and I hope for everyone to have as much fun as I did!