originally written for a journalism class in Vilnius University faculty of Communication
Foreigners who live in Lithuania are connected by one of the richest national treasure of this country -Lithuanian language. It was revealed by the poetical concert called “Under the umbrella of Lithuanian language and culture(Po lietuvių kalbos ir kultūros skėčiu)” which took place on May 19th in Šv. Kotrynos bažnyčia. Regardless of age, sex, nationality, more than 30 participants coming from different countries or born in mixed family tried hard to perform Lithuanian song or poetry. It might not be perfect, but Everybody uttered Lithuanian and it was heartbreaking.
Lithuanian language is the language which keeps Proto Indo-European features. It’s ancient language primarily only spoken in Lithuania. This event has a purpose to draw attention to the role of language. More you learn language, more you learn culture. “It is worth visiting for everybody. You can see Lithuanian languages or literature from different perspectives. Notably it is a good opportunity to create a dialogue between different cultures, locals and foreigners”, said a Project Coordinator Indrė Kalendraitė. Some performances were collaboration of Lithuanian locals and foreigners who live in Lithuania for some reasons, study, marriage or work.
This event can shed a spotlight on the foreigners in Lithuanian society which consists of 1.37& of Lithuanian population. Nowadays it’s nearly 40000. “I want to ask Lithuanian people not to afraid people from abroad”, said Halil Ibrahim Ak, a directer of Baltic Turkish Culture Academy and the participant of the event. Baltic Turkish Culture Academy, one of the main organizers, is usually organizing several cultural events in order to promote mutual understanding among Lithuanian locals and foreigners. “I want Lithuanian local people to know that we foreigners are interested in prosperous Lithuanian culture and willing to know it. We didn’t come here just for earning some money. Still Lithuanian language is quiet hard to learn for people from Asia especially though…”
Due to vocabulary or grammatical structure, Lithuanian language is difficult to learn for everybody. Nevertheless, participants at the event were worldwide coming from Europe, Asia, Middle East and south America. Diverse nationalities are as follows: Kazakhstan, Moldova, Georgia, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Ireland, France, Russia, Czech Republic, Turkey, China, USA, Colombia, Greece, Indonesia, Hungary, Austria, Netherlands, Poland, Germany, Albania, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Lithuania.
One of the most notable performers is a girl originally from Crimea Tatar same as Jamala, a winner of Eurovision 2016. Wearing brilliantly white traditional costume, she sang “Myliu pavasario dangų (I love spring sky)”. Lamentable, but touching powerful voice from the bottom of her heart reached at the sail of church and made audiences amazed. Oppositely, comical sketch about Lithuanian wedding burst into laughter of audiences. More than 30 participants fully showed their respects to Lithuanian culture in own way with own accent. Each performance blew audiences’ mind all the time.
Wang Yu from China, a master student of music academy in Vilnius, who sang two songs with his music teacher gave a comment saying that “Literally I do not understand Lithuanian at all. However, after my teacher explained me the meaning of lyrics, I practiced to sing and it somehow fits to me. While I’m singing Lithuanian lyrics, I’m using my imagination to guess its meaning.”
Even though you can understand different language just partially, it’s possible to show appreciation to different culture. What’s important is their own attitude toward different culture. Allow me to note my personal experience in Vilnius. Once in a bus there’s a weird but marvelous experience that I communicated with American student who I met with first time in Lithuanian. It possibly happens in Lithuania that Japanese and American communicates each other “under the umbrella of Lithuanian language and culture”. This is the hidden potential of Lithuanian language which connects people regardless of nationality.