Q. Tell us about your Lithuanian-Australian heritage
My family story would be one very familiar to a lot of Lithuanian-Australians - my father fled his homeland as a young boy with his mother, my grandmother, during WWII, leaving behind family, possessions and all they knew, eventually landing in Melbourne. We were raised as Lithuanian-Australians, celebrating as many of the traditions as we could, while trying to help family left behind. My Oma (her choice of name based on a favourite family friend) was able to re-connect with her siblings following independence. *I imagine I have eaten more beetroot and pickled fish than most of my friends and I was definitely the only one in my class being sent to school with herring!
Q: What do love about Lithuania?
I love how forward thinking it is as a nation, and the courage it shows within the international community, speaking up for nations under threat or less powerful. I love the traditions and the food, and culture, and how it may be a small nation, but is quite mighty.
Q: Do you have a favourite dish or word?
I make potato pancakes as regularly as I can, and am a very big fan of Cepelinai and Krupniks. My Oma used to always say things were only "nine seas away" which she said was an old saying in her family, and I always loved that.
Q. Can you speak Lithuanian? And have you travelled there?
Unfortunately not, other than hello, father, love you, and thank you! I've never had a chance to visit Europe, and it will be the first place I go when I do, but my sister took our grandmother's ashes to Vilnius, so she could be laid to rest near her family.
Anything else you would like to add?
I love being part of the Lihuanian-Australian family, and always feel a pang of connection when someone reaches out to me, based on my surname, to ask if we share a heritage. It's a small and exclusive club, but there is an instant bond at finding someone who shares your culture.