This Friday, the director of the Latvian Institute (LI), Aiva Rozenberga, will visit Ireland to take part in the Latgale Regional Days event that is being organised by the Irish Latvian Chamber of Commerce, the "LatWest" Latvian association in Ireland and the Latvian Embassy in Ireland. Rozenberga will speak to those who have left Latvia, calling upon them to keep close ties with people in Latvia, think about new possibilities for co-operation and partnerships, and to think about returning to Latvia when they are ready to do so. Rozenberga will also inform participants in the event about the initiatives of LI, including collaboration projects with Latvian municipalities and employers. The purpose of these projects is to improve the quality of communication and to help the country to become more attractive when it comes to jobs.
The Latgale Regional Days event will be held from September 8 to 11 in the town of Claremorris, and the purpose is to raise interest in networking and co-operation possibilities between Ireland and Latvia. Another goal is to exchange information with municipalities in Latgale, focusing on craftspeople, businesspeople and representatives of culture and sports. Still another aim is to introduce the Irish people to Latvia's heritage, traditions, tourism, business and municipal and national work ethics.
Latvian Regional Days have been organised in Ireland since 2015, helping to maintain strong ties and to develop cultural, educational and business links between Ireland and Latvia. The process began with Kurzeme Regional Days in 2015, and in future, there will be Zemgale Regional Days in 2017 and Vidzeme Regional Days in 2018, when Latvia will be celebrating its 100th anniversary.
Photo: GORS, The Embassy of Latgale, Aleksandrs Tolopilo
The Latvian Institute organised a roundtable discussion today for editors and columnists to talk about the #IWantYouBack social movement, thus initiating many discussions about the strategy, goals and next steps to be taken. Institute director Aiva Rozenberga was joined by two young professionals who recently returned to Latvia from abroad, Liene Pērkone and Ņikita Kazakevičs, in the discussion with representatives from Latvian Public Radio, Latvian Public Television, Latvian Independent Television, the BNS news agency, the national newspapers Latvijas Avīze, Diena and Dienas Bizness, and the regional newspaper Bauskas Dzīve.
Kazakevičs said that the main reason why young people return to Latvia does not always have to do with financial motivations, but instead with values and opportunities. The problem is not the salary, but instead the attitudes that employers take toward young professionals and the ability to listen to suggestions. Pērkone chimed in that in comparison to London or Paris, in Rīga she feels that there is a “ceiling” for professional development that is impossible to break through. The young professionals also said that they were encouraged to return to Latvia because of the quality of life, nature, clean environment and potential for start-ups.
Editors and columnists expressed various views about the social movement and made several valuable suggestions as to how to move forward with the initiative. Participants spoke about the need for Latvians to accept new ideas and be more open to everything that is new. That would ease the return process for many people. The need for a debate about how to define Latvian identity so as to avoid ethnic divisions was also discussed. The media representatives called for specific and practical tools that would ease relocation to Latvia. They also said that various groups of emigrants should be addressed with different messages.
Rozenberga told the media representatives about progress that has been made and feedback that has been received so far. She said that there have been criticisms, positive responses, condemnations, and feedback that is full of gratitude. “The goal of the movement is to send an emotional message to people who have left Latvia and those who live here, asking them to get engaged to jointly decide on what kind of country Latvia should be in future,” said Rozenberga.
The next steps for the social movement involve the establishment of partnerships with local municipalities and NGOs in Latvia that can help to strengthen bonds between people in Latvia and people abroad, also making the necessary changes to the quality of services in Latvia.
The slogan #IWantYouBack does not mean that anyone expects people to return to Latvia immediately. Instead we are encouraging people to maintain closer links to Latvia and consider a return home when they are ready to do so. The initiative encourages people to think not only about those who have left, but also those who have stayed in Latvia, working in various areas so as to improve things that do not work well at this time.
The initiative was launched by the Latvian Institute at the end of July, the goal being to address people who have emigrated from Latvia by sending the emotional message that they are important to us and that Latvian will always be their home. The Latvian Institute believes that the time has come to state clearly that we would like our people to come home whenever they are ready to do so, but also that we would like them to maintain closer bonds with Latvia while they are still abroad.
From the left: Liene Pērkone, Ņikita Kazekevičs and Aiva Rozenberga during the roundtable discussion with Latvian editors and columnists.read_more
The Latvian Institute in cooperation with artist Egils Mednis has created series of electronic postcards for social movement #GribuTeviAtpakaļ (#IWantYouBack). Everyone can send postcards with individualized message to their family members and friends, who are currently residing outside of Latvia, through the Latvian Institute website www.li.lv.
A week and a half ago the Latvian Institute initiated social movement with a goal to address people who have left Latvia with an emotional message reminding them in a simple way: you are important to us, and Latvia will always be your home. The Latvian Institute believes that the moment has arrived to announce loud and clear that we would like to see our people to return to Latvia whenever they are ready but for the time being to form closer ties with Latvia.
The Latvian Institute has already received many proposals for the social movement from the private, government and NGO sector, which indicates that the people of Latvia support this initiative and are ready to engage. Private companies have offered to promote their job openings, the State Chancellery has updated its Facebook application with practical advice on how to relocate to Latvia, as well as several NGOs have expressed interest in organizing events to promote stories about those, who have already returned to Latvia.
Anyone can join #GribuTeviAtpakaļ movement personally; the Latvian Institute only provides tools and channels to spread the message. If you would like to join, please, follow us on Facebook (accounts Kaut kas mīļš no Latvijas and If you like Latvia, Latvia likes you), look for information on our website www.li.lv, and send electronic postcards, personalized video, audio or text messages to your close ones, using hashtag #GribuTeviAtpakaļ.
Direct link to virtual postcard (more postcards to follow): www.li.lv/lv/gributeviapakal
Picture: Postcard of social movement #GribuTeviAtpakaļ, by Egils Mednis
The Latvian Institute (LI) has started an initiative #GribuTeviAtpakaļ (I want you back), inviting Latvia's residents to tell their relatives and friends that have gone abroad that they're always welcome to come back. Latvian residents are invited to send the message to their relatives and friends on social networks, using the hashtag #GribuTeviAtpakaļ or in any other way.
"The initiative concerns our relationships with our relatives, friends and people close to us that are abroad, and [aims to] tell them clearly and directly - 'I want you back,'" said Aiva Rozenberga. "If we want one of our loved ones to return, these relationships have to be tended to like a flower in a garden. You have to work on these relationships, and that is our goal."