• Klaipeda University
  • 12 February 2024

Experiences of participants of the Lithuanian Language and Culture Winter Academy: from cepelinai-making lessons to freezing noses

Fifty graduates from 16 countries _ Argentina, Azerbaijan, Bolivia, Brazil, Finland, Great Britain, Hungary, Japan, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Sakartvelo, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, and the United States  _  received their certificates of graduation from the Lithuanian Language and Culture Winter Academy.

At the closing ceremony, the graduating cohort was congratulated by Rector of Klaipėda University prof. dr. Artūras Razbadauskas, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities prof. Rimantas Balsys, and the head of the Centre of Lithuanian and Foreign Languages, the course coordinator dr. Kristina Blockytė-Naujokė. The Winter Academy graduation celebration was full of laughter, smiles, and hugs, and the "cherry on the cake" was the song by prof. Rimantas Balsys. The song united all the participants into a unified community.

This Winter Academy was flexible and adaptable to the needs of its participants. Intensive Lithuanian language training took place both face-to-face in the classrooms and online with participants from all over the world. From early morning until lunchtime, participants were immersed in the Lithuanian language, with an even more intensive cultural programme after school and on weekends.

The course participants got acquainted with Lithuania's history, famous places, traditions, cuisine, national music, musical instruments, songs, dances, films, and Lithuanians who have made a name for themselves in Lithuania and the world. The students got to know Klaipėda, visited the modern Klaipėda Castle Museum, saw the Baltic Sea, and some of them were brave enough to go swimming.

At the coldest weekend in January, the course participants visited Vilnius, Kernavė, and Kaunas, where they felt the real winter and the numbing cold. It was an extreme experience for those coming from warm countries. The trip to the Curonian Spit captured the heart of every participant. The Tiškevičius Palace in Palanga, home to the Amber Museum, was also visited.

On the Day of Cultures, students were introduced to Lithuanian dishes, songs, dances, and games. The participants also talked about their home countries, their customs, and national costumes, treated everybody to their national delicacies, sang their national  songs. and taught their dances. The afternoon of cinema included six short films on  different themes, ranging from an animated musical to a historical film, and the most recent one, Confusion,released on January 18. Participants felt like they were in a real cinema, enjoying popcorn and cola as they watched the film.

The advanced learners of Lithuanian were hosted by a family in Kretinga, where they cooked cepelinai (potato-and-meat dumplings), while the rest of the course participants were in the district of Klaipėda and learnt how to bake a Samogitian kugelis (a potato-pie), danced Samogitian dances, and even took part in the Samogitian Winter Olympics!

The annual Academy is not only a place of learning for its participants, but also a source of knowledge, providing them with language skills, history narratives, and new friends.

The Lithuanian Language and Culture Winter Academy is supported by the Education Exchanges Support Foundation.


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