By: Daina Sablinskaite ir Skaidra Puodziunaite
Lithuanian youth between the ages of 16-35 will meet online, distributed across the globe, to kick off the 16th Lithuanian World Youth Association Congress taking place on June 19–20 and 26–27. Applications through the Kanados Lietuviu Jaunimo Sajunga are officially open and close on Wednesday, April 7th. Apply at the following link.
Read on to learn from two previous Canadian delegates/KLJS Presidents and current World Lithuanian Youth Congress Planning Committee Members Daina Sablinskaite and Skaidra Puodziunaite, as they share more about the Lithuanian World Youth Association, how this year’s virtual Congress is shaping up and why you should apply to have your voice heard as a Canadian delegate!
LWYA – what is it?
The Lithuanian World Youth Association (LWYA) is an independent, non-political, volunteer-led youth organization. Its main goal is to create an active and civically engaged youth community across the globe while maintaining and nurturing Lithuanian identity. LWYA was founded in 1972 during the Second World Lithuanian Youth Congress at the University of Kent, USA.
Today, the LWYA unites more than 30 youth unions and communities around the world. Since the First World Lithuanian Youth Congress in 1966, it has been held every 3-4 years. Each Congress convenes the Delegates (representatives from each country), deemed the highest governing body of the LWYA, who set the guidelines for the organization’s activities in the coming term and elect a new board.
Want to see a real throwback? Check out this video recap of the 1987 Congress held in Australia, co-produced by Vidas Puodziunas.
What can I expect from this year’s Congress?
I’m sure it comes as no surprise that it will be held online and we’re excited about it!
We’re charting the unknown, so there is a lot of freedom to reinvent the wheel in ways we might engage with one another.
In partnership with the host association, the Lithuanian Polish Youth Association, a team of passionate committee members distributed across three continents, have been meeting every week since the fall of 2020 to determine how we might facilitate an engaging, meaningful experience for all.
Delegates want to learn from each other. We will continue with our show and tell segment so each country’s association can share how they have been adapting in this year of change.
We are also experimenting with new ways delegates can interact both synchronously and asynchronously, using virtual workspace tools like Slack.
Sessions will include engaging guest speakers and we will create spaces for small group breakout discussions on topic-based issues from dual citizenship to access to Lithuanian language school programs across the diaspora and beyond.
And most importantly, we are working to create the conditions for all delegates to leave the experience with a larger network and even lifelong friends! Expect virtual networking, cultural programming and more!
The benefit of a virtual setting is that it removes barriers like cost, travel and time that exist for in-person experiences. Anyone can join from anywhere in the globe. Based on delegate registrations received thus far… it’s going to be a Congress like never before!
“Ateitį kuria tradicija”
We also want to highlight this year’s theme which loosely translates into English as “The future is inspired by tradition”.
The visual identity was created by design guru Vilius Marcinkevičius. The 90’s-inspired and highly stylish visuals are intermixed with prolific Lithuanian artist Čiurlionis‘ motifs and Lithuanian folk patterns. Our team has been using these designs throughout the Congress promotions and expect to see the theme sprinkled throughout Congress.
Why LWYA needs Canada!
As Canadians, we have a unique perspective to offer, and it needs to be heard!
Our community, unlike other associations, particularly across Europe, has a very active second and third generation Limithuanian youth community.
We also come from a nation with two official languages, so we bring a layer of empathy and understanding when access to Lithuanian language discussions come about.
And despite the challenges this year has imposed on our community, the current KLJS Board has stepped up and found new ways to engage the community. Other youth associations across the globe can benefit from learning from our community-building successes (and failures).
Canada has long had a voice on the LWYA board and has played a key role at LWYA Congresses in past years. Let’s continue the tradition!
The best way to stay up to date with LWYA Congress information is through social media and be sure to apply as a Canadian Delegate by Wednesday, April 7th. If you have any questions for KLJS, contact them through Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/KanadosLietuviuJaunimoSajunga), Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/kljs_official/) or email at [email protected].
To stay up to date with Kongresas, here are the ways:
Link to the event: https://fb.me/e/14BfeUwgN
Facebook: @PLJCongress- https://www.facebook.com/PLJCongress
Instagram: @pljkongresas and @pljs_org
LinkedIn: Lithuanian World Youth Association – https://www.linkedin.com/company/world-lithuanian-youth-association