Little pieces of Lithuania all over the World

By Ieva Sliziute

Denmark, Great Britain, Ireland, USA, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Holland, Belgium, Japan, Australia – no matter where you are and what you do, you will be able to hear Lithuanian language. Lithuania has a long history of emigration and Lithuanians can be found in all five of the world’s continents. Since gaining the independence in 1990, over half a million people have emigrated from Lithuania, around 1 million people of Lithuanian origin live abroad now. To make the adaptation process easier and to do not forget their roots, Lithuanians are uniting into communities.

To remain Lithuanian

“I am a member of Lithuanian Society in Denmark, because I am Lithuanian and I will always be. I want to celebrate our National Holidays with my nationals, discuss ongoing problems with them, to feel that I am still one of them”, – says Martynas Skrupskelis,who came to Denmark three years ago.

According to him, it is not easy to adopt in a strange country. “You have to accept their rules, their way of living, understand that you will never be a native there and you have to embrace your nostalgia for your home country and yearning for family”.

“Especially it is hard to get a handle on complicated Danish bureaucratic apparatus when you are trying to get a job and to comprehend tax system” – says Martynas. “So it is always beneficial to have somebody, who has got through all this and can explain you everything in your own language.”

Credits for photos belongs to Lithuanian Society of Denmark

Lithuanian Society of Denmark is placed in Copenhagen.

 

Fairly traditional activities

There are book club, mothers club, Saturday school for Lithuanian children, basketball club, discussion club, Lithuanian dance studio and other activities in Lithuanian Society of Denmark, which was established in 1997.

“Our main purpose is to organize all Lithuanians and Lithuanian origin people living in Denmark and to encourage their civil and national consciousness”, – states Arturas Maslauskas, the head of this society, which is placed in Copenhagen.

“I follow Lithuanian news, keep in touch with my family and friends, but longer I am here – more doubt I have if I want to go back to Lithuania, even for holidays. Lithuanian activities with Lithuanian community are enough, because in the course of time you start to live now and here, you have friends, job, hobbies, you learn their language and you feel that here is your home, here is the place where you belong.”

Unification was always needful

Until World War I there were only around 20 Lithuanians living in Denmark – mostly students and Lithuanians married with Danes. At the end of World War II few thousands Lithuanians came to Denmark, they were accommodated in campus in Nymindegab. At that time they also believed that National solidarity is the highest national virtue. Two Lithuanian choirs, two folk dance groups, orchestra, drama studio, primary school and kindergarten for Lithuanian children were founded there.

Eventually, there were only hundred Lithuanians left in Denmark, but after gaining independence and particularly after joining the European Union, plenty of Lithuanians started to go to Denmark looking for better life.

Another Danish Lithuanian community is located in Aalborg and unites Lithuanians living in Jutland. This is a more virtual society; members of it have discussions in forums, shares news and experiences, help to settle for new people.

The union for all Lithuanians

The World Lithuanian Community is a non-governmental and non-profit organization established in 1949 that unifies Lithuanian communities abroad. The Constitution of the World Lithuanian Community declares that it consists of all Lithuanians living abroad. The Community is active in 36 countries, including representation in Lithuania. The Lithuanian Charter states that the main purpose of organisation is to support and unite all Lithuanians outside Lithuania’s borders and promote Lithuanian culture and language abroad.

„The most interesting thing is that sometimes we, the emigrants, are more Lithuanians than those, who stayed in Lithuania. We celebrate our national holidays fervently, all together; we have traditional evenings with traditional dances and songs, we organise a lot of meetings with Lithuanian singers, artists and writers. I don‘t think that this kind of events are very popular in Lithuania, especially among young people“, – says Agne Vertelkaite, Assistant to the Consul General of Lithuania in Chicago and the member of World Lithuanian Community.

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