On On August 19, 2016,
the International School Network visited the Embassy of Lithuania to Japan to interview the ambassador, H.E. Mr. Egidijus Meilūnas, and his spouse, Mme. Galina Meilūnienė.
Tradition and Tourism (By Madoka)
H.E. Mr. Meilūnas commented that tradition in Lithuania is similar to that in Japan. He commented that Lithuanians are very proud of their traditions. Tradition is respected and very well kept throughout the nation. Various NGOs are exploring history, and young people continue to take interest in traditional activities.
Lithuania is a country with plenty of nature and world heritages. H.E. Mr. Meilūnas recommended to us the Hill of Crosses, located in northern Lithuania. This is a hill that is covered with about two hundred thousand wooden crosses and crucifixes.
Mme Meilūnienė added that there are many interesting festivals celebrated in Lithuania. Lithuanian people are very fond of jazz. Every year from June 2nd to 3rd in the evening, cities in Lithuania celebrate a jazz festival in which people dress up in traditional clothes, and sing and dance traditional charms. Mme Meilūnienė furthermore introduced to us that during this event, couples undergo various activities that test their romance. For example, there is a legend that percepts good omen if a couple manage to hold hands and jump over the bonfire. Similarly, there is an activity of floating flower crowns on water at night in hopes that they will sail away successfully.
Mme Meilūnienė recommends that tourist ride hot air balloons to see the beautiful cityscape of Vilnius. She also recommends various traditional amusements that take place in forests. She commented that there is a Lithuanian “Edo Mura”- a town which contains traditional houses and activities. The Lithuanian traditional village allows for tourists to experience traditions such as baking bread, making chocolate sweets or wax candles, hearing stories, and singing cultural songs. Mme Meilūnienė mentioned that she is amazed by the beauty of the village every time she visits.
Mme Meilūnienė also introduced to us her experience in visiting the Gero Onsen Gassho-mura in Japan, a recreation of a mountain settlement that contains traditional houses. She explained that she was amazed to see that the tools that were used in traditional Japanese mountain settlements were very similar to those used in Lithuania.
Source of Unity (By Kurumi)
The national motto of Lithuania is "The strength of the nation lies in unity". H.E. Mr. Meilūnas stated that the source of unity of the people of Lithuania was the “history”. There are currently “a lot of Lithuanians living abroad” with a small community of about 180 Lithuanian people living in Japan. Despite how they are dissipated throughout the globe, he feels that their “tragic, dramatic history, especially in the 20th Century” aids in bring them together. “32 years after our independence, our biggest value is freedom and independence,” H.E. Mr. Meilūnas exclaimed.
Mme. Meilūnienė also added that their “language”, ‘Lithuanian’, further contributed to the feeling of unity. “Our language is one of the oldest in the world,” she began, “We were occupied but managed to maintain [our language]”. According to Mme. Meilūnienė, during occupation by the Soviet Union, “written sources were prohibited”; yet, “mothers taught their children” Lithuanian. She believes that the “willingness to maintain the language” truly unified the people of Lithuania.
First Step Towards World Peace (By Kurumi)
H.E. Mr. Meilūnas believes that the step towards world peace is to “first of all, learn from our history and not make the same mistakes”. Furthermore, he mentioned that “making friendship between nations” and “understanding differences” are also ways to create peace within the globe. “People sometimes do not accept [each other],” H.E. Mr. Meilūnas reasoned the element that prevents this from happening.
Additionally, Mme. Meilūnienė commented that “there are still biases” in the world. Therefore, she advises people, especially young people to “just go outside and meet different people and see their cultures. Know that they are the same people as us”. “People are different but we should broaded ur knowledge,” she expressed. She feels that despite our differences on an individual level, we must not make assumptions or intentionally judge others for their differences. By really “knowing” people on a personal level and “travelling a lot”, Mme. Meilūnienė believes that we would become “the best Ambassadors of peace promotion”.
Passion (By Madoka)
When H.E. Mr. Meilūnas was a student in the seventh grade, he first dreamed of becoming a diplomat. He mentioned that this dream had been forgotten for a while but has been implemented. Mme. Meilūnienė introduced to us that when she was a young, she wanted to help children by selling or donating toys. Then when she was in the seventh to ninth grade in school, she wanted to become an astronaut. Ever since she visited a village to stargaze, she became interested in how matter in space interact with each other.
H.E. Mr. Meilūnas’ passion in working as the Ambassador of Lithuania in Japan is that he is very intrigued in the country. He commented that Japan is rich in culture, history, and innovation. So many places. Make friends and learn from japanese people. Mme. Meilūnienė mentioned that her dream ever since university was to come to Japan. She perceived Japan to be a familiar country yet with mysterious aspects that evoked her curiosity. She is very passionate to met people and visit many places in Japan.
Message to the Japanese People (Kurumi)
When asked for a message for the Japanese people and readers, H.E. Mr. Meilūnas expressed that he is “happy” about the “friendly relations [between our nations] based on partnerships”. He is glad that Japanese people and the Lithuanian people “share the same values”. Official diplomatic relations between the two nations commenced in 1922, but even before this, he stated that there was “continuous communication” between Lithuania and Japan. As a message, H.E. Mr. Meilūnas commented, “Let’s work together for the future. The heroic deed of Chiune Sugihara proved to one that even during the most dramatic and tragic time, one person can save the people. He or she saves the world, to save our common world”. “Come to Lithuania!” Mme. Meilūnienė added.
(Reported by Madoka Nishina)
(Reported by Kurumi Onishi)