Author Archives: admin

How American-Lithuanian couple chose to fight for Lithuania’s Freedom: “We gathered thousands of local Lithuanians”…

January 15, 2018

Not many will remember, but in 1984, the Soviet Union boycotted the Los Angeles Olympic Games because of “anti-Soviet hysteria in the US”. Antanas Tony and Danutė Mažeika were one of the main people “to blame”: for the longest time they urged US Lithuanians to protest, . Read full interview

Beekeeper Rokas Armonas discovered the beauty of a natural life in America: keeping the bees and fostering hospitality

January 4, 2018

Rokas Armonas cultivates beehives and produces honey in California, although he says he misses Lithuania quite a lot and would have wanted to live in the Lithuanian countryside. Jurgis Didžiulis caught up with Rokas while visiting California with the ToBeLT team . Read full interview

Kaunas native Bella Shirin: I want to spread a positive message about the Lithuanians who saved the Jews

December 22, 2017

Bella Shirin was born in Kaunas, after World War II, when her parents came back to the the city having somehow survived the concentration camps. When she was seventeen years old, her parents decided to go to Israel. But Bella says she always missed Lithuania, especially Kaunas. 

. Read full interview

Our ToBeLT Team Plan a Documentary Based on Inspiring Lithuanian Community of the West Coast

December 18, 2017

It is predicted that by 2020 the Lithuanian population will shrink to 2,6 million. However, where many see a problem, we see an opportunity. We are inspired by a vision of a global Lithuanian community that transcends borders and maintains its people connected through networks and engaged through inspiring examples of sustainable heritage and evolving culture.


NFL star Dick Butkus says he learned how to take pride in everything he does from his parents

December 17, 2017

Dick Butkus is frequently referred to as the meanest guy in football. He’s an NFL hall-of-famer, one of the greatest linebackers of all time, and also happens to be a Chicago-born Lithuanian.

He was a great player with an exceptional attitude. 

. Read full interview

Tea maker from California, Daiva: My husband learned to play the accordion to impress me

December 12, 2017

Daina Slekys-Trout is a California-based Lithuanian who has set up a successful Kombucha tea company. Kombucha is a natural fermented tea, the fastest growing non-alcoholic beverage market – growing approx. 25-35% each year in the last five years. Every bottle is adorned with Lithuanian coat of arms Vytis, and her husband, an American from New Jersey, has learned to play the accordion to impress her.

Jurgis Didžiulis together with the ToBeLT (To Be Lithuanian) mission spoke to Daina during his their  latest trip to the West Coast, California . Read full interview

Indrė Viskontas, American Lithuanian: our traumas can be cured by helping those in need

December 12, 2017

Indrė Viskontas, an opera singer and a neurological scientist, learned how to speak English when she was 7 years old. It wouldn’t be odd if she lived in Lithuania, but she wasn’t – Indrė was born and raised in Canada – currently residing in San Francisco, where To Be LT caught up with her for a chat.

Her parents and grandparents created such a unique Lithuanian environment at home, making Indrė feel like an outsider when she moved out on her own, as if she was a foreigner living in Canada. Similarly, she felt at odds with her environment when she visited Lithuania. Some interesting thoughts about the continuation of Lithuanian traditions when living abroad; being Lithuanian and the importance of that heritage in the context of what Indrė would like to pass on to her son . Read full interview

Daiva Navarette: how my American-Mexican husband fell in love with Lithuania

December 12, 2017

Daiva Čekanauskas-Navarette, born in Los Angeles, is an honorary consul of Lithuania and the director of Lithuanian World Arts Council (LWAC). Daiva is very active in Los Angeles Lithuanian community, and frequently visits Lithuania. During the US West Coast trip we visited Daiva and her husband Carlos Navarette’s home and sat down to chat about Lithuania . Read full interview

First impressions from our journey: a surprising discovery at Hollywood Studios

October 4, 2017

We began our journey to the West Coast USA on the 28th of September, seeking to capture wonderful ways of fostering Lithuanian identity abroad. Our first few days have been very productive – we’ve met lots of inspiring people, participated at the annual Lithuanian Fair known as “LT Days”, had a chance to tour the famed “Warner Bros” studios, created a new anthem for our project, and even connected with newly found relatives …more

We asked some well known Lithuanians, what it meant being Lithuanian to them.

September 25, 2017

A week before ‘ToBeLt’ project departure to the West Coast USA, we had organised a fun going away party. During the event, we hosted a discussion amid prominent Lithuanian public figures. We asked them a question ‘What is cool about Lithuania?’ and what that meant to each of them …more

,,ToBeLT” journey begins: the project has been launched at Presidential Palace

August 22, 2017

Project “ToBeLT” has grown into a big community movement. What started as a project seeking to celebrate Lithuanian roots, has grown into a movement that is redefining how we speak about our national identity in the global context and empowering anyone who feels a connection to Lithuania. As our mission grows, we seek to visit several Lithuanian communities around the world, beginning a new dialogue about more inclusive national identity, celebrating Lithuanian heritage and documenting what it means “To Be Lithuanian” around the world …more

Music single Supakuoti Instrumentai relesed

August 11, 2017

Our identity tells us who we are, and living identity is the only one that really counts. You can preserve it in archives, dictionaries and museums, but that will only tell you who you’ve been. The way you live your identity will define who you are and who you will be. While investigating what it means ToBeLT to the Lithuanians, who inhabit the NE US, we accidentally came up with a song on the streets of Baltimore with the musicians from Ave Vita. It sums up the need to engage in your heritage and make it a part of your life.

Documentary “ToBeLT – Kartu Amerikoje” available online

August 11, 2017

This documentary is a story about lovers who overcame the impossible only to realise that they had grown apart. Its about the people who left Lithuania physically, though not in spirit; people who successfully lived Lithuania outside Lithuania during the soviet occupation, but now struggle to make sense of their undwindling passion. Jurgis Didžiulis delves into the Lithuanian communities of the NorthEast US, communities he was once part of, and explores what drives them, what afflicts them, and what potential they still harbour. “To Be LT” is a candid exploration that relies on music, storytelling, and humor to provide a glimpse of the past, present, and potential future of a love that still burns unusually strong.

First trip of the project – to North East America

August 11, 2017

ToBeLT team visited Lithuanian diaspora communities in North East America in 2016. Jurgis Didziulis was talking to Lithuanians about national identity, and listening to their stories about finding a place for heritage in their life, and passing on the torch to the young.

Small communities are stronger, because they need a bigger effort to survive. Wherever life has taken us, we have always been able to find Lithuania, perhaps because we always carry a small piece of her in our hearts. Throughout the past 25 years, we were taken to several different countries across the world.

Lithuanians have a unique sense of style and distinctive aesthetics – an observation I state with ever-growing confidence. Many people of diverse cultural backgrounds attend creative workshops at my Baltic Art Studio Co in Chicago, but Lithuanians stand out repeatedly.

Lithuania reminds us Shire – a lush green region described “The Lord of the Rings”. Small wooden houses, large forests, rivers, plenty of berries, and not so many people. Thinking about Lithuania creates a feeling of warmth and cozyness, a feeling of being cared for.