THE VOICE OF INTERNATIONAL LITHUANIA
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Carol Luschas, Pennsylvania, USA
Since the fall of the Soviet Union, Lithuania has struggled to define itself. It turned its back to "Mother Russia" and looked toward the west becoming a member of NATO and later formed and economic union by joining the EU. Unfortunately, the "Baltic Brain Drain" is still occurring, as the youth have their sights set on the West seeking comfort of material wealth and goods accompanied with a lack of a moral compass, values or care and compassion for humanity. This is extremely dangerous and is causing Lithuania to collapse and fall behind.
Now this small Baltic Republic must look towards itself to inspire a new generation to have a sense of national pride, spirit, and above all hope for the future. The country needs to believe that giving back is ultimately about serving others and having a positive impact on people's happiness, health and well-being. Each citizen has a common mission and holds a moral responsibility to relinquish the gift of time to improve their country and make it a better place. For "we make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give."
More attention needs to be given to developing small businesses, industry, technology, and real estate opportunities throughout Lithuania. I admire the mayor of Vilnius, Arturas Zuokas for his effort to create a business district similar to New York's Manhattan. But the modern cityscape competes with lovely panorama of the Old Town. Vilnius is a city that takes pride in being a heavily forested and environmentally friendly. I hope the Old Town will never lose its charm and continue to expand, reconstruct, and refurbish the beauty of this green lovely Old Town.
More effort needs to be made in promoting Lithuania as a prime tourist destination. A stronger wave of healthy tourism in needed to boost the economy. Vilnius seems to fall behind the other Baltic capitals of Tallinn and Riga. Tourists often comment about the beauty and coziness of the compact city of Tallinn and the art nouveau buildings of "Stag" crazed Riga but fail to mention Vilnius. When the city is mentioned many tourists say that it is a "beautiful town but it is a pity about the graffiti." The city needs to present itself as the true "Pearl of the Baltics" so it is not left in the shadows. Vilnius is a city bursting with life, culture, art, museums, concerts, restaurants and cafes.
Kaunas is also another great destination. It is a city that encompasses the true "Lithuanian Spirit." The Old Town" is small but cozy. It is not as architecturally diverse as the Old Town of Vilnius and buildings still need to be renovated. Despite this the town has a lot of potential and can become truly impressive! Tourists can enjoy strolling clean, peaceful medieval cobblestone streets, while admiring beautiful buildings.
I hope this short article will motivate Lithuanian citizens young and old to freely devote their time, energy and skills to improve their country and the place they call home. That they will remain in their country in order to spread this positive message and above all enhance the future of Lithuania!
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