Friday, August 9, 2013

Iki pasimatymo Lietuva!

Sergeant Mario Stoke, Pol/Econ intern Jon Kidd, and myself at the UNESCO Building
It is with great sadness that I must say goodbye to Lithuania. My experience working here at Embassy Vilnius has been absolutely incredible. Especially working in the Public Affairs Section, I had the opportunity to work on important projects and meet some fantastic people. I cannot thank everyone here enough for the incredible guidance and mentorship that they have offered me. The experiences that I have had here will be hard for other posts to live up to. 
Meeting Lithuanians at local gatherings. 

The Lithuanians whom I had the chance to meet and work with here were so friendly and fun. I have heard that Lithuanians tend to be reserved, but in my experience, the people have been easy to talk to and get to know.  They are kind, smart, and very humorous. In addition to the people, the country itself is beautiful. I was fortunate enough to come in the summer months and did not have to go through the scary winters that everyone has told me about. I saw all of Vilnius and even got to travel to several other places such as Panevėžys, Klaipeda, Palanga, Kėdainiai, Trakai, and Kaunas. 

Hosting Sheila Raye Charles to talk to music students
The work I did at the Embassy is something I will not soon forget either. I have met so many wonderful Americans whom we brought over to teach about cultural and political issues. Sheila Raye Charles came to speak to music students about signing, inspiration, and achieving one's own dreams. She inspired students to go after whatever they aspire to be and even left a little impression on me! 

There was also the chance this last week to help organize and host Stuart Milk and BETTY, the band from New York. Stuart Milk is the nephew of Harvey Milk and founder of the Harvey Milk Foundation which works internationally and domestically to promote equality for the LGBT community. BETTY is an all-girl band from New York which spreads a message of love, tolerance, and acceptance of all people. Again an inspiring group of people to work with and a great mission of the Embassy to be a part of!

Meeting President Adamkus at the July 4th Reception
Then there was the chance to attend and help out at the July 4th Reception held at the Ambassador's residence. This was a very large event to be a part of as I am almost positive half of Lithuania was there! It was an incredible opportunity  to meet many of our partners. I even got to meet President Adamkus, a man with great passion and care for the country. The event was very successful, but busy! This was an introduction to full-staff cooperation and teamwork within the Embassy. 
Gunnery Sergeant Mike Brown and myself at the July 4th Reception
Public Affairs Section Team
And then there is the Embassy staff themselves. I have been so lucky to work with so many fantastic people, in Public Affairs and other sections. I will never forget the mentorship and guidance I have gotten here. I could have picked a better embassy to have my first experience at. I will sorely miss all the people that I have had to the chance to work with. When I arrived I was immediately adopted as a full-on team member, and was given substantial and important work to do. It was great to spend my birthday here, to get to meet most of the officers who are now at new posts, and to get to know those who have just arrived. Summer really is a great time to be here! Lithuania, Embassy Vilnius... I will miss you both! I hope to be lucky enough to come back one day and get to do it all over again!