The fifth anniversary rally of the Belarusian youth studying abroad will be launched in Vilnius today. An informal youth community entitled “United Students of Belarus” (USB) meets in Lithuania every year to share their experiences, to discuss implemented activities and plan common future projects. This year the rally takes place in Dvarčėnai, a countryside resort in the Southwestern part of Lithuania.
The idea of bringing together Belarusians studying abroad was conceived the Eastern Europe Studies Centre and has been implemented for the five consecutive years already. The main theme of events and debates at the rally this year is the global social movements and the role of the social media.
This year the EESC has gathered some 60 students from 13 different countries around the world. The rally will be officially launched in Vilnius today by the Lithuanian Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Evaldas Ignatavičius delivering a welcome address. The agenda also includes the Member of European Parliament Professor Vytautas Landsbergis, Member of the Seimas Mantas Adomėnas, Expert on global movements from Serbia Siniša Šikman, Expert on social media from Belarus Mikhail Doroshevich, and experts from Lithuania. In various sessions and different formats they will, together with the USB participants, discuss the contemporary social movements, the role of communities in exile and their abilities to become powerful social movements that would be capable to generate actual changes in the political, economic and social environments in the home country. Also, the programmed will include so-called “Forum Theatre”, an interactive method of simulation that allows participants to deal with various human rights issues and actively participate in solving them. A series of cultural activities are also foreseen as an important part of the agenda.
“The interest in the USB rally is growing substantially, as every year we receive an increasing amount of applications. The numbers of the applicants by far exceed our expectations. We are delighted to see how young Belarusians living and studying abroad are becoming a more and more independent, organised and proactive movement”, – says the Director of the Eastern Europe Studies Centre Kristina Vaičiūnaitė.
The overall aim of the event is to help Belarusian students who are studying abroad to establish and strengthen links with each other, to gather into an active community and to promote civic participation of the youth. It is expected that students will share their knowledge and ideas with other members of the USB, as well as contribute to the implementation of common initiatives. During the previous rallies Lithuanian and Belarusian historians discussed about the experiences of the Lithuanian Grand Duchy, philosophers gave lectures on the importance of patriotism and civil society, the participants were taught of effective self-presentation and subtleties of building the impression.
Organisers very much hope that Belarusian students in exile will remain active members of the civil society and encourage the citizens of other countries not to be indifferent about the continuing human rights violations in Belarus.