On June 25-26, 2015, six English language teachers from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – the selected tutors of the Baltic States “Teaching Tolerance Through English” Camp Lithuania 2015 – attended a preparatory workshop in Vilnius. Julia Bitner (Lasnamäe Gymnasium, Tallin) and Mari Talvik (Elva Gymnasium, Elva) from Estonia, Miks Kapsis (Šķibe Primary School, Jelgava reg.) and Jelena Miloša (Riga Secondary School N 95, Riga) from Latvia, and Danguolė Česaitytė-Rutkauskienė (Vičiūnai Basic School, Druskininkai) and Rasa Midverienė (Turgeliai Aistuvos Gymnasium, Šalčininkai reg.) from Lithuania met with the Tolerance Camp organizers – US Embassy Lithuania and Board of LAKMA (Lithuanian Association of English Language Teachers). The aim of the workshop was to prepare for the Tolerance Camp which will be attended by 30 teenagers from the 3 Baltic States and which will be run in August 2015 in Dvarčėnų dvaras, Alytus region, Lithuania.

The workshop was held in the Lithuanian University of Educational Sciences which is an active partner of the US Embassy and the LAKMA Association. The university highly values the benefits of such cooperation as the students always have great opportunities to participate in various educational projects. This time Tomas Aleknavičius and Ignas Žilinskas, having completed their 2nd year of Bachelor English Philology studies, will be able to act as Camp Volunteers and assist the tutors in organizing the Camp activities.

The Public Affairs Officer Sarah Talalay (US Embassy Lithuania) and LAKMA president Eglė Petronienė welcomed the future camp tutors and expressed their appreciation of teacher and student enthusiasm and willingness to participate in such a project. The Educational Affairs Specialist Rasa Baukuvienė, the Alumni Coordinator Inga Sidrys and the Resource Center Director Aleksandras Balčiūnas introduced the workshop participants to the mission goals and objectives of the project and provided a training session on social media. The USG program alumni Živilė Kropaitė (LRT radio journalist and advisor on Social Media and New Technologies), Danguolė Kiznienė (President of US-LT Alumni Association; Partnerships and Projects Manager, British Council) and Jelena Grigorjeva (English teacher at Vilnius V. Kachialov Gymnasium) shared their expertise and knowledge which they gained in the United States being enrolled on different educational programs. The alumni will join the students at the Camp as counselors promoting the key values of the American society – multiculturalism, diversity, and tolerance. Together with the tutors and volunteers, they will engage the young people in activities which encourage global thinking and a positive approach to diversity.

During the two days, under the supervision of LAKMA Board member and teacher trainer Nida Burneikaitė, the workshop participants developed the conceptual framework for the camp program and compiled a bank of activities to be offered to the students in August. The tutors shared their ideas and best practices of teaching teenagers and discussed what educational resources would be appropriate to meet the purposes of the Camp. The work on the program continues online as the tutors and assistants finalize the daily schedules and elaborate the educational scenarios for the week in August. The 30 teenage students from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania should get prepared for their best camp experience ever!

PHOTOS by the US Embassy Lithuania and LAKMA