“Lithuanian language is a part of my identity”, says Flavia from Brazil
She came, she saw and she stayed. A Lithuanian descendant from Brazil Flavia Taynara Maciulevicius-Galumbauskas always dreamed of visiting Lithuania. Grandfather told her a lot of stories about Lithuania and it was a big part of her identity. Recently, she found an amazing opportunity – Lithuanian language and culture courses. The best way to show my admiration to Lithuania is to learn Lithuanian language, she thought. Just after the courses, which were organised by the Lithuanian University of Educational Sciences, Flavia decided to stay and grow her future in Lithuania.
I was in love with Lithuania before I came to Lithuania. Because it is a part of me. It is a part of my family. I’m half-Lithuanian. The mother’s side of my family is from Lithuania. My grandfather told me a lot about Lithuania. Why did they leave, what happened. Our family had relatives in Lithuania, we used to write to each other, but our correspondence suddenly ceased. It was only later when we found out that our relatives were banished to Siberia for 10 years. My grandfather once asked me if I would go to Lithuania to find our relatives and so I did. I hired a person, provided her with all the letters we had and she helped me. When I was working in England, I also applied and received Lithuanian citizenship – it was a huge effort by Lithuanian Embassy in London. And I thought, the best way to show my admiration to Lithuania is to learn Lithuanian language. So I found Lithuanian language and culture courses and I applied for scholarship. I said to myself, if I won’t get a scholarship, I would go anyway. But I was awarded with Lithuanian state scholarship and it was just vow!
Lithuanian language and culture courses
As descendants, we are losing it. We don’t know how to speak Lithuanian anymore. We know words and things that our grandfathers taught us, but there’s a lot more. We want to learn culture. Even how to cook traditional Lithuanian dishes. I believe that if Lithuanian culture would spread wider, more people would be interested and would come to Lithuania.
I would say to all my friends in Brazil, if you have a chance, just go study abroad. You’ll learn a lot and you’ll teach a lot as well. Of course, it’s not going to be easy to leave your home and get out of your comfort zone, but it will be an amazing experience. You’ll meet a lot of people. You’ll learn a different culture. A different way to think and to see life. You will built yourself anew, a better yourself.
Brazilians and Europeans
Brazilians are more open. More friendly. I don’t know why. Maybe because we never fight. We live in peace. During the dark times, the First and Second World War, Brazil opened doors to refugees. Many have come. From Lithuania and other European countries. We welcomed them as friends and lived together in peace. If you ever visit Brazil, you don’t even need to speak Portuguese, they will smile and make you feel at home. I’m not saying Europeans are not friendly, yes, they are friendly, it’s just that they are distant from each other. I guess, they don’t want to be too invasive.
Everyone here will always help you. At least in Lithuania, people are very kind and friendly. I never met someone rude or someone cold. And when I say that I’m half-Lithuanian or when they hear my name, they get even more excited – oh, you are Lithuanian-Brazilian! Yeah, they sometimes make fun about my name. Because in Lithuania, as part of your language and mentality, this is the way you name boys. Funny, really.
I’ve been in Lithuania during summer only, this will be my first winter. I’ve heard about tough Lithuanian winter. But if you prepare for it – just get some warm clothes – you are going to survive. Brazilians will love playing in the snow. I love it a lot, so amazing.
I miss Brazilian food. I am even thinking of opening a Brazilian shop in Lithuania. We have foods that you won’t find anywhere in Europe. The taste is different. It’s always fresh. I miss food a lot. But I also love Lithuanian food. My grandmother used to make traditional Lithuanian dishes in Brazil.
Advice to international students
Try to learn local culture and language – just spend more time with locals. Not only with youngsters, but with older people as well. They can teach you a lot from their experience. Normally, young people want to discover a world by themselves, instead of listening to an advice from someone who already has an experience. Only when you get older you start understanding the advices given to you. But that’s the way it is, I guess.
Recently, the Education Exchanges Support Foundation announced a call for scholarship applications for Lithuanian language and culture courses, which will be held in winter. If you love playing in the snow and want to learn one of the oldest languages in the world, just fill out the application form till 10th of November: http://stipendijos.lt/en/call-for-applications-for-lithuanian-language-and-culture-courses-in-winter