Carlow County Development Partnership were delighted to be part of the Carlow delegation which welcomed the visit of the Lithuanian Ambassador Egidijus Meilūnas to the county yesterday, February 21st. He was accompanied by Dr. Giedrius Janauskas Vice Dean in the Humanities Department at the University of Kaunas. The visit acknowledged the positive contribution made by the Lithuanian community in the county and explored possible areas of co-operation in the future, including schools and cultural projects. The Carlow delegation consisted of the Cathaoirleach of the Council, William Paton, Kathleen Holohan,  Chief Executive Carlow County Council, John Brophy, the Chair of Carlow LCDC, the Chief Officer Michael Brennan , John Shorthall,  County Librarian, Fr Conn Ó Maoldhomhnaigh, President of Carlow College, Helen Maher,  Programme Board Chair: Citizenship and Community Studies, Carlow College and Karl Duffy,  Social Inclusion Manager of Carlow County Development Partnership,

We have supported the Lithuanian community over the past few years in capacity building events around maintaining their own culture,  and through funding towards the Lithuanian preschool premises and also through our support in the SICAP Programme for the Carlow Integration Forum and its events. The chairperson of the Forum is a Lithuanian National, Sandra Kazlauskaite, who has been involved in numerous programme with us over the years, included the holistic Body Mind and Soul Programme as well as in her role as co-ordinator of Failte Isteach – a community based volunteer language and welcome programme which we also fund.

We wish to continue and develop this support for the community going forward beyond or support for the pre-school,  and this support will begin with two small school-based projects over the next few months.

Firstly, to celebrate the important year of the centenary of regaining Lithuanian statehood in 1918, we are going to organize and sponsor a prize in one of the schools in Carlow town for the best project by a child which focuses on Lithuanian history or culture. We will aim this at children aged around 10, and hope that the Ambassador himself, or someone from the Embassy staff will help us to select the winner.

Secondly, we are going to link a class from a Carlow National School  – over the internet – with a school in Lithuania, maybe to develop a common project on the different cultures.  Once again the Ambassador agreed to help us identify an appropriate school in Lithuania.

The meeting also discussed the psychological challenges around young people developing their identity between two cultures and explored possible research ideas between the University in Lithuania and Carlow College.

Overall, a very positive exchange of ideas and energy.