THE VOICE OF INTERNATIONAL LITHUANIA
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Virginia Shimkute with her daughters, Roberta who now considers
Africa her home, and Arune who has happily settled in the U.S.
Letter from Virginia Shimkute, New Zealand
I am currently living in Bay Of Islands, New Zealand, popular tourist destination, working in hospitality, tourism business for over 2 years. It’s been a drastic change in last 3 years, not only moving countries but change of career as well. From corporate world-offices, board meetings, pressurised job which does give you security to totally opposite: I am now my own boss in a holiday destination environment, watching dolphins swimming by, fish, boats and birds, always in the open air. Mind you – no securities.
In a week or two I will be opening a brand new impressive shop on a waterfront – selling New Zealand’s locally produced delicacies – Manuka honey, exquisite chocolate, cheeses-all supplied by local producers. Exciting and busy time.
Back a bit-was born and brought up in Siauliai, northern Lithuania. I had excellent teachers and received a very good education. Later I studied in Vilnius and got to love that special city. After receiving a diploma in programming, I went back to Siauliai for work. Few years later moved with family to Vilnius.
First overseas trip happened in 1990, to USA. Strange experience of a totally different world, different values compared to Lithuania.
After less than a year, due to family commitments, I returned to Vilnius in early January 1991.
Most memorable night which I will never forget – 13th of January 1991. Picture me: 9 months pregnant, just returned from the “smiley, cheery, bright Americas”, all alone at night in my central Vilnius flat, tanks rolling by. My dog was trembling with fear, trying to fit on my lap-only company I had. My husband had left for Siauliai to bring my mom who was supposed to be helping with the new arrival – my baby. Sad night for all of Lithuania. Happy ending later – new life commenced 25 of January.
Left for South Africa in 1993.Children were 3 and 10 years old. Settled there and lived for next 16 years, raised my two girls in Johannesburg. My Lithuanian education came in real handy and I was able to get good jobs despite that unemployment rate was high, especially when I moved to Port Elizabeth in year 2000.
For a while it seemed that I have settled in Port Elizabeth – good job at Continental Tyres, comfortable house. But there was this nagging feeling of dissatisfaction and a need of a new challenge – South Africa seemed not good enough as a location anymore.
Arune, my older daughter, moved to USA and settled there.
Just as my younger, Roberta, finished school – we decided to go on a trip to New Zealand. Came here in February 2009, travelled all over New Zealand, did some fantastic pleasant work in blueberry orchards picking blueberries – loved it here and decided to stay for longer. And I’m still here, 3 years later.
Bay of Islands is one of the most beautiful parts of New Zealand though it is very scenic all over.
Will I stay here for good? I hope so. Though wish my children wouldn’t be so far away. Brother with family settled in USA, Roberta returned to Africa, and Arune is in America. We do see each other, visit and have get-togethers in one continent or the other.
I am happy with where I am and all the travels I had done, happy that I was able to get up and go when I have a desire to do so. Have one wish left – to visit Lithuania with my both children, show them all my favourite places, show them how beautiful and special is the country where they were born – so they can place images to the stories they heard about Lithuania. And I hope they will not be disappointed.
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