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Monday, 30 September 2013 15:49

Svaja Vansauskas Worthington, Lithuania's first ever honorary consul in Alaska

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Mrs. Svaja Vansauskas Worthington has been appointed recently as a Lithuanian Honorary Consul for the State of Alaska. She was born into a prominent family in Lithuania, but grew up in the United States. Svaja did not see her home country until 1999, more than 50 years after leaving it during the war, when she returned for her grandparents’ and aunt’s reburial ceremony. She has made many trips to it since then, always feeling a strong attachment to its people and land.

Read LTUworld.com intervew with Mrs Vansauskas Worthington about her new functions:

How would you describe your connection to Lithuania?

My connection to Lietuva is a very personal one in the sense that it is very close and strong. I grew up hearing about Lietuva from my parents, about how they loved it and missed it, how life was so good there surrounded by family and nature and loveliness and love, until it was snatched away by the war and the Russians and they were forced to flee. My parents never fully recovered from the loss and heartache, and when I returned for the first time since I left it as an infant, I felt an immediate and unbreakable attachment to it.

How do you envisage your work as an Honorary Consul?

As Honorary Consul, I will continue to promote Lietuva and its people and culture as I have done always. I never pass up an opportunity to talk about Lietuva. In addition, I am now actively seeking more people of Lithuanian heritage in Alaska so our Lithuanian community becomes stronger. Also, for example, I am considering entering a float based on Lietuva in the Fourth of July parade in our community.

What are some of your latest engagements to promote Lithuania in Alaska and nationwide?

I just returned from nearly three weeks in Lietuva. I introduced my American son-in-law and his boys to Lietuva and its history. I expect the boys will produce some school reports on it in California where they live. For myself, I posted many photos from the trip on Facebook, and my book club is reading Ruta Sepetys' Between Shades of Gray for its November selection. I have also presented papers at conferences from Atlanta to Nebraska to Alaska about my Lithuanian connection, I have written and published about it, and I have a website called Lithuania Legacy:(http://afsvw.uaa.alaska.edu/index.htm)

Are there any particular connections between Alaska and Lithuania that you want to especially point out?

Alaska and Lithuania are located at nearly the same latitudes, and we had very similar weather this year: a long winter and a sudden hot summer. Lithuanians seem to seek adventure, and we have many outdoor adventure opportunities in Alaska year round, and my sons are involved heavily in them. We would be happy to host some visitors. We have 3 back country cabins which are usable year round. I would also like to establish some kind of connection between UAA and universities in Lietuva.

Do you travel to Lithuania often and do you plan on going soon?

I've travelled to Lithuania twice this year, in February and August. My grand-daughter and I have a tentative plan to go there in Spring 2014.

Tell a little bit about your family.

My family is acutely aware of its Lithuanian heritage and of my family history: my grandfather's involvement with Lithuanian government, culture, the arts, his exile to Siberia along with my grandmother and aunt who did not survive, his eventual return to Lithuania after over 20 years of exile, prison, camps, deprivation, his incredible letters written from exile. Most of our kids and grandkids have been to Lithuania, and they all want to go again. And Kucios is the most special of all holidays for us and them. Although my husband is an Americam, all of our 7 children have Lithuanian names and even some of our grandchildren too.

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