VILNIUS - Member volunteers of the international EU program Youth in Action are organizing two cultural events in Kaunas during May that are designed to increase understanding between different social categories in the city and to reduce intolerance.
The initiative, called Kaunas Sirdziu Sajunga (Kaunas heart union), will engage foreigners, Deineta volunteers, students, disabled people and Kaunas citizens with the aim of better relations and a better acceptance of differences in Kaunas.
"It is a social action to understand the differences between cultures, and to make a better relation between all the inhabitants in Kaunas," co-organizer Jorge Alberto Cueto Reyes, a citizen of Mexico, told TBT.
Locals can be frosty on first meeting, but Reyes said that after getting to know others, Kaunas residents could be very personable.
"For Kaunas citizens we are just foreigners and is hard to integrate with local people. Sometimes it seems that they don't like foreigners at first contact, but also we discover that when you get to know Lithuanians they can be really warm and friendly."
An international soccer match between volunteers, Erasmus students and locals will be the first of two events aimed at bringing people together.
"During half time of the game there will be animation, concerts, sharing experiences of our lives as foreigners in Lithuania and more," co-organizer Pierre Guihery, a citizen of France, told TBT.
The second event, Visi Skirtingi - Visi Lygus (Everyone different, everyone the same) will involve interaction between children, volunteers and people from different organizations and institutions, who will build a "spider web" across the street.
"During the event, there will be a concert played by children, animations and papers for drawing. On the last day we will put the drawings together to make a word," Guihery said.
The two social projects will be for free and are open to all.
Reyes said they came up with the idea through their volunteer work. The Deineta volunteers work with disabled and disadvantaged children in Kaunas. "Our volunteer activities are connected with all this. Working with disadvantaged groups we realized that here in Kaunas the solidarity is not one of the main things that the society has 's they find accepting different people hard."
The event is being sponsored by Deineta, Vytautas Magnus University, the Kauno Futbolo Akademija, the Agency Of International Youth Cooperation, the European Volunteer Service volunteers in Kaunas, Erasmus students and various locals.
Television personality Vytautas Mikaitis will be master of ceremonies for the events and the Vetra from the Child and Pupil Freetime Centre will provide musical performances.
Jurgita Pilypaityte, a representative of the university, told TBT that they were fully behind the project.
"It's always good that someone is organizing something for international students for their integration into society and enjoy the life better here. This is not only for students, but also for different groups and different people. It's always good to have international people and locals," she said.
"The students are active and not only study and they would like to know the area better."
The football match will take place in the Ledo Arena on May 16 starting at 11 a.m.
The Visi Skirtingi - Visi Lygus event will take place in Laisves Aleja in front of the Drama theater on May 28 and 29 between 10 a.m. 4 p.m.