- December 22, 2016
Integration of national communities: awareness of where I am and what I can do
“The government program includes for example a point concerning the plan of creating a program protecting cultural heritage of national minorities. This is probably a task for all of us – first of all, defining what this important heritage really is, what should be refined”, said the head of the Department of National Minorities Vida Montvydaitė, Ph. D. at the beginning of the discussion organized by the Department.
“We should try to answer the question of how national heritage affects the society, whether objects of heritage are actually of great importance for us, residents?”, continued the President. On Thursday representatives of government, artists, journalists, representatives of national communities took part in the discussion “Respect for heritage of national communities as a factor of successful integration”.
“The register of objects of cultural heritage is available for a wide audience. Thus, national communities are encouraged to inform which objects are missing on the list, which should be updated. In particular we want to develop cooperation not only with national minorities, but also with local communities which live near certain objects of cultural heritage”, stated Diana Varnaitė, the president of the National Heritage Department at the Ministry of Culture.
Marija Rubaževičienė, the president of the Community of Hungarian Culture, emphasized the meaning of intangible cultural heritage of national communities. “I want to pay attention to language. It is a key to understanding of our own culture and other cultures, as well as a way to deeper understanding and agreement. The more accurately we can verbalize our needs, the easier becomes an agreement with someone who thinks differently”, said Rubaževičienė.
“The aim of the Department of National Minorities is, among others, to help national groups to save their heritage. It is not about searching after what is “ours” and what is “yours”. We look for common points”, said Montvydaitė.
“Contemporary understanding of traditional culture has cardinally changed. There is no point in trying to stop time and “persuade” the need of traditional culture to young people. However, in my opinion, we create one organism and it is not possible to isolate completely from the community. The basis of the organism is cooperation of various parts – each of us. What can be a criterion of the successful integration? It is precisely the realization that we create one body, and asking oneself the question: where I am and what I can do”, this is how Marija Rubaževičienė described her view on the process of integration.
“When it comes to young people, even if we really want to make them feel a part of the community, we cannot force them to do that”, stressed Rubaževičienė.
“From my experience of working as a teacher I can add that the basis of working with young people is primarily to find the appropriate language and the method to pass certain content, including talking about cultural heritage”, said the chief editor of the portal bernardinai.lt Donatas Puslys. The editor stressed the need of drawing the attention of educators and local communities to monuments which are closest to us. This way we will be able to “read” and recognize cultural signs which are in our immediate environment.
“Getting to know the history in schools still consists of memorizing historical facts, dates and numbers. Perhaps the student will know how many representatives of national minorities live in Lithuania, but the more important question is: What are their personal stories?”, the editor of the portal bernardinai.lt emphasizes the meaning of one’s personal relationship with history.
“This is the idea: first, students should learn about the history and culture of their village or town, and then – begin to explore the rest of their homeland. This way they can feel the part of their culture”, said the president of registers, PR and education of the Department of Cultural Heritage of RL Alfredas Jomantas.
A photographer Kostas Rimantas Šukevičius, also taking part in the dicussion, stressed the importance of digital preservation of cultural heritage, such as eg. photographic archive of monuments. “It is not only about archiving. But also about popularization of Lithuanian heritage, including of course heritage of national and ethnic communities of Lithuania. I get a lot of interest from travel guides. I think I can say that photos of some monuments have helped to attract a large number of tourists to Lithuania”, said Šukevičius.
Translated by Agnieszka Drabik within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.