Tag Archives: lithuania

Brief visit to Marijampolė

I attended a debate in Marijampolė, the seventh-largest town in Lithuania, which was an occasion to visit this town for the first time. As a regional center of Lithuania’s historically most affluent region, Suvalkija, it continuously appeared in school textbooks. Many prominent writers and Lithuanian independence activists were from this region and had studied in Marijampolė. Still, I couldn′t have named any major landmark. It was not a part of the itinerary of high school trips either. Still, the town has a very interesting history and is worth exploring. Continue reading

Hanami in Kaunas

Feeling very nostalgic about my proper hanami in Tokyo in 2009, I attended a Japanese Embassy / Sugihara Museum event in Kaunas, where a Japanese performance artist Kirie Oda cooperated with Lithuanian violinist and singer to create a performance around Sugihara House, which used to be the Japanese consulate before WWII and now hosts a Sugihara museum, foundation, and VMU Centre for Asian Studies. The artist wanted to use this space, with its sakura trees planted by Yukiko Sugihara herself, and a larger green space behind the building.

Japanese-Lithuanian artistic cooperation

Japanese-Lithuanian artistic cooperation – click on the images to enlarge them

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New Year at the Baltic coast

I usually try to find something special to do on New Year’s eve, and I was more than happy when a friend suggested going to the seaside. Palanga, one of the main seaside resorts in Lithuania, is a nightmare in summer, packed with families, budget tourists, and party-goers. But it makes a great winter getaway.
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Short video about an evaluation of structural funds and equal opportunities

My last project at Public Policy and Management Institute was an evaluation of the impact of EU structural funds on gender equality and non-discrimination. In addition to data collection and presentation, I organized a conference with various stakeholders and contributed to another, quite an unusual output of the evaluation – a promotional video. This was the first time our team had such a task (of course, the technical part of it was outsourced, but we wrote the script and selected the projects). It was a great opportunity to learn how to present evaluation results using visual means. Our client, the Ministry of Finance, has uploaded the video on Youtube. Continue reading

Dali & Magritte visit a small town near Kaunas

On Sunday I used the last opportunity to visit an exhibition of various minor works by Dali and Magritte at Raudondvaris manor, not far from Kaunas. Thanks to my friend R., who was willing to drive there in this suddenly freezing weather, we reached the recently redeveloped suburban area, which used to be a famous noble clan’s estate (you can read more about the history of Raudondvaris manor here).

Museums in Lithuania can hardly ever afford bringing really famous works, but this was a rare opportunity to see Salvador Dali’s ‘applied’ art. His career spanned for decades, so he was asked to design and produce various decorative objects, such as medals for Olympic games or the 25th anniversary of Israel (I hadn’t known that before), tapestries and ceramic plates. There were also some quite known watercolors, such as illustrations for Dante’s Divine Comedy. The fallen angel with drawers is one of my favorites. I also searched for the image of his ceramic plate from the Seasons set, the one portraying fall, which is a human figure with a cube instead of its head, and trees growing from it. But I couldn’t find it on google. Continue reading

Seminar on women’s entrepreneurship in London

In September, I had a chance to go to London again – this time to attend an inspiring seminar on promoting women′s entrepreneurship, which was organized by the European Commission and the UK government (summary). In addition to lots of new ideas, I found new Twitter accounts to follow, as the government agencies involved in this seminar, as well as the entrepreneurs who made speeches seem to be quite active on Twitter. One regret that I had was that there was some essentialization of women (women-run business reportedly being more community-oriented and less profit-driven). This appears to be backed by data, but it is always good to explain how these trends come about. Continue reading

Bar food and beer tour with Marius Plečkaitis

Walking by creepy looking blue lights from a wallpaper shop in the central station area, we are disappointed to see that a tiny shop with an old-school concrete sign is closed. Having spent many years in Kaunas, did I ever go there to buy meat pastries (čeburekai)? Definitely not. But on a tour with a connoisseur guide and a group consisting of friends and people I’ve just met, I am ready to uncover working-class and simply under-appreciated small shops and bars in my native city.

I am a member of LUNI, the Free University network in Lithuania, which consists of several groups of people who exchange knowledge without any fees or personal benefit. The network has nothing to do with the Western European tradition of free universities, and it is not a university. It is an initiative to exchange knowledge in non-systemic settings after education became more expensive in Lithuania. This month the Kaunas branch of LUNI organized a very special event – a bar food and beer tour with poet and restaurant reviewer Marius Plečkaitis (interview with him in Lithuanian). Food and drink tours are among the recent initiatives in Kaunas, where people explore their city and visit unusual spots that they wouldn’t venture into alone.

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A bit about my 20s

I rarely post personal photos and stories online these days, but it’s fun to think about the end of my 20s, which were an era in itself, and to look back at all the different memories. As someone said, the best thing about being in your 30s now is that all your craziest experiences happened in the pre-Facebook era. So many parties, adventures and funny faces will, fortunately, never be documented and tagged.

10 years ago I was a young enthusiastic student in Vilnius, dreaming to be a diplomat in Japan by the time I reach, well, the point I’m at now. My 20th birthday was before the era of digital photography. At the time I had only visited Latvia and Estonia. But soon after there was a whirlwind of adventures on three continents. This is not meant as a birthday humblebrag – rather, it’s my reflection on how I decided to leave my comfort zone. Continue reading

Evaluation on equal opportunities in structural funds completed

Good news: colleagues from my old job at PPMI have finalized the project Evaluation of the impact of EU structural support on the implementation of the horizontal priority “Gender equality and non-discrimination” for the Lithuanian Ministry of Finance, where I was the key researcher and did most of the data collection and analysis. As I have written for PPMI website in the conclusions of the final conference, “the evaluation stated that groups experiencing discrimination benefited from EU structural investments, as illustrated by project case studies and a short promotional video created in the framework of this evaluation. However, there was a lack of a strategic approach to the horizontal priority and coherence at the level of Operational Programmes. This will have to be strengthened during the new programming period. Although the evaluation found similar trends in neighbouring countries, the cross-country comparison allowed identifying practices worth learning from. E.g. in Poland there was an inter-institutional equality network in place, Sweden benefited from the competences of equal opportunities experts at the local level, Latvia commissioned sectoral guidelines for the construction sector, and a goal to combat stereotypes was put forward in Estonia. The findings of the evaluation were presented discussed with stakeholders at an international conference. Representatives of project managers, NGOs, various ministries and the European Institute for Gender Equality took part.”

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Perfection of mini vacations in Nida

Some people were suspicious why the New Left 95 movement had its annual conference in Nida, which is a Lithuanian seaside resort. It was too far to go for one day, and an expensive place to be. But in fact, when the tourist season ends, prices drop in Nida, and even middle class Lithuanians can afford having a conference there 🙂

There is no place this perfect in Lithuania. The whole Curonian Spit (a peninsula that starts in Kaliningrad) is protected by UNESCO and is also a nature reserve, so no developers can crowd it with hotels. This gives towns on the peninsula a cozy feel, but obviously drives the prices over the top. Most of tourists come from Germany. It is typical that all signs are in Lithuanian and German, and only in some places English and Russian are used as well. Many Germans know about the place because Thomas Mann used to live there. Continue reading