Thursday, March 15, 2012

Let the Research Begin!

 Dear Folks --

You see this picture above me?  Well, that there is Vilnius, Lithuania. And why is that important? Well, because I just got a letter from ILP accepting me there for a 4 month internship this summer!!

Just a bit of background on what I’ll actually be doing – ILP (International Language Program) is  a non-profit organization that has centers in Mexico, China, Thailand, Russia, Ukraine, and Lithuania.  Through using certain learning theories, ILP teaches foreign children English through play (which is why I can use this as an internship for Human Development – the theories are based off Human Development, and use social science methods).  So, I’ll be teaching 2-3 hours a day, taking Russian for another 1 hour daily (that’s included in the program, so I’m going to learn RUSSIAN!!), then exploring the surrounding countries for the rest of the time!! I’m allowed to travel to Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Poland, Czech Republic, and Ukraine!! I’m SO excited and am counting down the days until I’m allowed to leave J. (It’s 6 weeks till I fly out, by the way) 

While down in Lithuania, I'll be living in Vilnius, the city capital.  This city is LOADED with cultural significance and history, so in an effort to get the most out of my experience, I've been researching the bajeebies out of Lithuania!! Here's a bit of what I've found so far:
Vilnius Old Town
From what I understand, the city of Vilnius seems to be split into two parts - the "New Town" (what with all it's skyscrapers, business, and new-fangled technology), and the "Old Town" (the more historical portion of Lithuania).  

Original Vilnius Old Town City wall
Door in Old Town -- I'm pretty much only adding this,
because I think Carissa would love it :)
Apparently, Vilnius' "Old Town" is one of the largest in Europe (3.6 km²), and sports the most valuable historic and cultural sites.  The buildings in the old town — there are nearly 1,500 — were built over several centuries, creating a blend of many different architectural style, ranging from Baroque, to Gothic, to Renaissance (whatever those mean). 
St. Anne's Roman Catholic Church
Apparently, Vilnius has been nicknamed "Yerushalayim De Lita" (the Jerusalem of Lithuania), since it has such a prominent Jewish population.  Vilnius was heavily destroyed during the Holocaust, and there is even a memorial stone dedication to victims of the Nazi genocide located in the center of the former Jewish Ghetto - now Mesiniu Street. 

Whatever portion of the population isn't Jewish, seems to be Roman Catholic. Vilnius seems to even be the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese, with the main Catholic church institution there.  I honestly don't really know what that means, but hope to find out when I get there!!! (Also, apologizes to any of my Jewish or Catholic friends, if I'm spouting off nonsense about your church. Let me know if I need to correct anything :)

Trakai Island Castle

AHH! Trakai castle.  If that picture doesn't make you want to jump on a plane to Lithuania, I don't know what would.  Seriously.  Trakai Caslte is located on an island in the middle of Lake Calve.  The castle is sometimes known as "Little Mariengurg", since it apparently looks like "Ordensburg Marienburg", which is the largest castle in the world, and the biggest brick building in Europe.  (Marienburg castle picture)  Trakai was originally built around 1409, but gradually deteriorated over time.  It was reconstructed during the 19th century, and major reconstruction was finished around 1961.  Dang beautiful, huh? 
Ariel view of Trakai Island

Vilnius University Grand Courtyard
Vilnius seems to put a pretty big emphasis on education, and has multiple universities across it's country.  The largest and oldest of these is Vilnius University (actually located in Old Town) with over 23,000 students.  It was founded in 1579, and has been passed between countries during previous wars.  However, it stands as a reopened university, and is actually where the Bible was first translated into Polish.

 I love learning more about the culture, historical sites, and people in Lithuania!! Next stop - their history through the wars, and consequential revolution in the 1900's.

P.S. Thanks to Amanda for all the tips on what to research/be familiar with/visit!!! :)


  1. So many familiar places! :) I've been to the University and Saint Anne's...and I'm pretty sure I taught some people who lived in places like those dirty buildings in Old Town.

    Someday, I'll see Trakai...

    There's also an area of the city in Old Town that is the art district. It's where the more bohemian population lives. And, once a year, (at least this was happening when I was there), you could get your passport stamped as if you were entering/leaving another country. I'll have to ask my companion about that, as she was there for that and I wasn't.

    P.S. I almost forgot to mention! After you've learned some Russian, we can talk in secret. I don't know why we would need to, but we will possess that ability!

  2. I DO love that door! It is fabulous. And so are you!! And Lithuania! You + Lithuania = ...whoa.