Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Panevėžys, Cicinskas, and Opening the Pažink Ameriką

On Wednesday, June 12, I travelled with my colleagues to Panevėžys. Our purpose for this trip was to meet with members of the Alumni association as well as to present at the opening of Pažink Ameriką, or Discover America. The terminal is a touch screen computer, pre-loaded with information about U.S. geography, history and culture, designed to appeal to young audiences.  One of the terminals is currently in Panorama shopping center in Vilnius, another one is now in Utena Public Library, and this one was installed in Panevėžys, at the Kniaudišku street branch of the city library.  
Standing in front of the new terminal on the day of our opening.
Once we got to Panevėžys, we were able to meet with members of our Alumni Association to discuss English teaching methods and camps. We met with several educators ranging from those who teach very young students to those who teach graduate-level classes. We discussed their ideas of helpful methods of teaching English, what they may be lacking, and what students and teachers could benefit from. There was a consensus that both students and teachers alike need a more active surrounding of English speakers, and to be forced to have to use the language. We discussed Fulbright scholars from America and their ability to assist in this, as well as Fulbright opportunities for Lithuanians to travel to the United States. 

Meeting with members of the Alumni Association, mainly English teachers of all levels. 
 Our lunch with the Alumni Association members was at a restaurant called Cicinskas, where their famous and local dish is "Cicinskas kepsnys". On the way to this place, we made jokes about who would be the first and the bravest to try this dish which was recommended to us by the city native. However, when we got there and saw the picture of it, everyone at the table ordered it! It is minced beef wrapped in dough (sometimes potato dough) and, I suspect, deep-fried. The dough was so delicious all by itself, but the Cicinskas as a whole was even better. It reminded me of a glorified Corn Dog that you would get in the States...just bigger and tastier. It was also served with a great cabbage salad with onions, tomatoes, and pickles. I ate every last bite. This meal is the best I have yet to have in Lithuania!

Our final stop was the goal of the day, opening Pažink Ameriką. We were greeted by about 20 schoolchildren armed with  balloons and tiny American Flags. I thought they were adorable and was happy that they would be the next generation Discovering America through the use of the terminal we were there to present. It was an even more pleseant surprise when they all got up and started signing and dancing to songs such as "If You're Happy and You Know It", and even a traditional and popular Lithunian song. It was certainly the greatest act of gratitude I have ever seen, or been on the recieving end of! I will certainly never forget these awesome kids, Cicinskas, and Panevėžys!
Schoolchildren in Panevėžys showing their gradtitude for Pažink Ameriką