Bye-Bye Baltics

by Rich Landesberg

Our great Baltic adventure is drawing to a close but we are ending on a great note.

Parliament briefing

The morning was spent at the Lithuanian Parliament.  The new building is bright and airy with windows all around for people to see their elected representatives at work.  We also toured the old Soviet puppet Parliament.  It has no windows and is decorated in dark tones.  There was no room for light in that totalitarian society.  It was at this building–20 years ago this month–where average citizens barricaded themselves inside and out to resist armed Soviet troops and tanks intent on returning Lithuania to Soviet rule.  Many were wounded and killed but average Lithuanians liberated their country and made it into the young democracy that thrives today.

After lunch, we headed to the US Embassy.  Typically, in most cities in the world, the embassy is ugly and looks like a fortress.  No exception here.  But the diplomats we met were warm, welcoming and wonderful to talk with.  Six embassy officials took time from their busy day to answer questions about relations with the European Union, how the embassy works, and a brief on the Foreign Service.  After the panel, they all stayed around for a bit to chat one-on-one with our students.  I think a number of students are now considering jobs with the government.

The evening was a time for high culture.  We headed to the beautiful Soviet era opera house to see Madame Butterfly, the first opera for many of our students.  It was a wonderful performance with great staging.

Tomorrow morning…back on the plane and heading to Rome.  As soon as we  get there, we’ll hop on the train for Florence.  I can almost taste the gelato.

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