Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Lithuania's Honorary Consuls: Ingrida Bublys, Ohio

Another installment in our new series profiling Lithuania's Honorary Consuls in the United States. Thanks to Aiste Zalepuga who conducted the interviews with each Consul and collected additional materials. 

Ingrida Bublys is the owner of IB International, a trade consulting company. She serves on various business and organizational boards, in addition to being active in the local Lithuanian community. With a partner, she heads the Lithuanian Trade Office in Chicago, the official branch of Enterprise Lithuania.

As Honorary Consul, Ingrida Bublys is responsible for promoting Lithuanian culture in the Midwest states, principally Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky. "Ohio has a very large presence of Lithuanians," she told us. In fact, the northeastern section of the state alone boasts more than 17,000 Lithuanian-Americans. "Indiana and Kentucky have smaller, but still active communities. They are all special because they strive to continue making people aware of Lithuania."

In Ohio, Lithuanian cultural organizations are plentiful. Our Lady of Perpetual Hope Catholic Church, for instance, provides a number of opportunities for those who wish to establish or maintain ties with Lithuania. It offers Saturday school, where children can learn the Lithuanian language, history and culture, thus preserving their heritage. It also provides cultural celebrations, like folk dancing and scouting, throughout the week. Lithuanian Scouting is especially prevalent in the city of Cleveland, the second largest city in Ohio and the 45th largest in the United States. It is further home to the Lithuanian Cultural Garden, a memorial site depicting Lithuanian history and the country's struggle for a national identity.

Bublys is herself very involved in these endeavors. "I am president of a Lithuanian Senior Scouts organization, Zidinys. I have also taught in Lithuanian Saturday school, have been a scout myself and a CYO leader. I am active in the local folk song ensemble and dancing groups. And for over twenty years, I have been a camp leader at the Lithuanian Heritage Camp, Dainava (located near Manchester, Michigan)."

She fulfills her role as Honorary Consul dutifully, chairing various positions in Lithuanian National Organizations, developing contacts with local Lithuanian communities, and delivering presentations about Lithuania throughout the United States. "When Lithuanians are present, many opportunities exist," she told us. "For me specifically, they are bountiful. I am a business owner. My company is IB International." As such, she is capable of serving on numerous business and organizational boards. With a partner, she heads the Lithuanian Trade Office in Chicago, which acts as the official representative of Enterprise Lithuania.

"I am Lithuanian-born," she explained. "My relationship is from birth." For Bublys, then, Lithuania does not represent a culture, it represents her culture, one that she hopes to preserve even in the United States. "My goal is to brand Lithuania as a beautiful country for tourism, as a great country for business. Together, with the local communities, I hope to promote Lithuania as small in size but big in culture."