Throughout August participants of “Baltoscandia 2016”, first expedition of the trek across the world “Mission Lithuania 100”, have travelled around the Baltic Sea. We’ve held meetings with local intellectuals and Lithuanian communities, presented prof. Kazys Pakštas’ idea of Baltoscandia, as well as sought traces of Lithuanians abroad, and filmed documentaries.
Presented Lithuania to local intellectuals
Nine conferences and meetings in universities of visited countries were held during the expedition. Genovaitė Kynė, president of the Lithuanian Geographical Society, believes they were very useful: “Academia members in the visited countries were very willing to participate in discussions and took interest in the idea of Baltoscandia, they also shared their experience and opinions. We found that even though we live in very different countries, we face the same or similar problems. We’re glad to have made some strong connections, which, perhaps, will lead to joint projects in the future.”
Invited Lithuanians abroad for discussion
Trek across the world “Mission Lithuania 100” leader Gintautas Babravičius said that one of the main goals was to establish a closer connection with Lithuanians abroad:
“It’s not only a goal of our trek. This is important for every Lithuanian. We bring the idea of Lithuania of the World and believe that close cooperation is necessary – to share good practices and erase boundaries between Lithuanians at home and abroad. It’s not important where a person is if he feels he’s Lithuanian – we have to finds ways to work together. Our meetings with fellow Lithuanians in Bergen, Andøya Island, and Nordkapp have shown that. They’re active, curious, and have not forgotten their homeland. On the contrary – quite a few hope to use the experience gathered abroad back in Lithuania.”
Cooperation with foreign filmmakers
Intensive shooting took place throughout the expedition. Director and cameraman Ignas Veršinskas is happy with the results: “Our team has managed to capture some fine material. Expedition member Michael Mattig-Gerlach travelled with his own film-crew, so we know now that at least two films are coming. Michael is making a documentary about global warming, which will be broadcast by the German television “Deutsche Welle”. We’re also planning a photo exhibition.”
Trek across the world members will be making up to 20 documentaries during their travels in 2017-2020. The films will draw attention to the effects of global warming, others will introduce different parts of the world and cultures to Lithuania.
Sought and documented traces of Lithuanians
One of the expedition goals was to find Lithuanian traces scattered around the Baltic Sea. Expedition member Evelina Razmutė says it’s important to find these places of significance to Lithuania:
“In the Castle of Hamlet in Denmark we were very happy to see a huge portrait of John Gielgud of Lithuanian descent. He was the best 20th century actor of Shakespearean roles in the UK. We’ve also visited the Malbork Castle in which Lithuanian duke Kęstutis was imprisoned, and discussed impact that the tense relations between Hanseatic League and Kalmar Union had on the Battle of Grunwald with historians. We want Lithuanians to understand that even though we’re a small nation, we’re an important piece of world history.”
Preparing for extreme 3-year trek across the world
“Mission Lithuania 100” leader Gintautas Babravičius says that the expedition was particularly useful in preparing for the trek across the world:
“We’ve tested our equipment and level of preparation, as well as had meetings that gave invaluable experience for the grand trek to come. For example in Tallinn we’ve met an Estonian crew who attempted to drive through the off-roads up to the Bering Strait. Even though they did not succeed, they’re advice is solid gold.”
“We seek not only to get to the Bering Strait but to cross it too, by attaching pontoons to our vehicles, and then to drive to civilization through the Alaskan off-roads in summertime. This has not been successfully done by any team in the world. Our wish is to connect the two continents, and to do it without outside help. We’re departing on the trek across the world in a year. Our top priority now is to focus on preparatory work.”
About “Mission Lithuania 100″
“Mission Lithuania 100” is an extreme 3-year trek across the world in of-road vehicles. It celebrates the 100-year anniversary of the Republic of Lithuania.
“We will be inviting Lithuanians across the world to unite and celebrate the anniversary, and to educate them as well – to take interest in the past and people, who laid the foundations for our country, but also to become contributors to Lithuania’s next century,” – said Algirdas Kaušpėdas, ambassador to the trek across the world.
Photos by Vidmantas Balkūnas and Ignas Veršinskas.