The British love every bit of their culture - from beef to design - if it's British, it's the best. Same goes with the French or the Americans. What about us, the Lithuanians? We look up to other cultures in search of a better life, better culture, better society. The hell with it! Lithuania is great. Vilnius is an amazing city. Few months ago I chose to come back and call it my home. Lithuania is changing and I wanted to be part of that change. It took four conversations with my fellow Lithuanians about their life here for me to decide to leave my career in London and move back to Lithuania. It was also the beginning of a side project. That side project is now a magazine, series of podcasts and a soon to be released radio show called “Ką žmonės dirba?” and is my unofficial love letter to Lithuania.
Every day the Lithuanian media tells people they are living in the worst country in the whole world. That’s not good enough. I refuse to read it and I refuse to believe it. Why are people fleeing Lithuania? Why don’t we love our home that our grandparents suffered so much for? I believe it’s because of the negative journalism and awful national self-branding… and I have an idea of how to change it.
That’s how my project turned into a mission with purpose - that one element the millennial generation can’t live without. My purpose is to inspire others to feel as passionate about work as I am; to encourage the feeling of pride when living and working in Lithuania.
Why focus on work? The reason our generation gets up in the morning has changed. What we do for work and what we love don’t need to be two separate things. A new generation is here - driven by purpose, ready for change and fuelled by self-belief. We’re not just millennials, we’re the first generation of independent Lithuania. Today, we’re already part of the workforce and participate in the country’s economy. Bureaucracy kills motivation. Students, school-leavers, Lithuanians living abroad and considering coming back know the country has issues. I’m keen to show that there are opportunities too.
The power of English language is incredible. Berlin knew it a long time ago. Berliners told their stories to the world and the world fell in love with the grey, soviet looking and pretty poor city. It has now become Europe’s capital of creativity and a dream destination. Lithuania has all the elements to become that too. At “Ką žmonės dirba?” we tell stories about creatives living and working in Lithuania in English and already have agencies in London, Berlin, Barcelona and designers in New York following us. Lithuanians living abroad who think there's no future in Lithuania have subscribed as well to read our newsletters. “Ką žmonės dirba?” has the potential to be more than a magazine, but a true social-initiative.
In my eyes, the project is a love letter to Lithuania. My country needs one.
Photo by: Julija Vėlykienė