“In crisis like [the Russian invasion of Ukraine], Heritage schools for refugees families become essential – it is a place to find people of the same fate, to become a national community again, to find psychological support, to communicate in the same language, to let children to relax at least for one day a week and be able to speak in their mother tongue. It’s huge ! I can go on and on… Heritage schools kept displaced persons in WWII alive, sane, educated, healthy… in the camps, then emigrants in the diaspora… I know that for me and my family first and foremost was a cornerstone of mental health… thru heritage language, culture and community…”
Neila Baumiliene’s Bio
Neila Baumilienė is a native of Lithuania. She initiated the establishment of the Alexandra Kazickas Lithuanian Heritage Language Saturday School in Eastern Long Island, New York in 2006, with the goal of helping her own and local Lithuanian American community children to preserve their heritage and to learn Lithuanian. In 2011, after the passing of Mrs. Kazickas, Neila was invited by the Kazickas Family Foundation (KFF) to create the Alexandra Kazickas Grant Program (AKGP) to support 40 Lithuanian schools across the U.S., and became executive director of the KFF NYC bureau soon after. Over the past years, thanks to AKGP, the Lithuanian Heritage Schools not only received a financial boost, but also collaboration was strengthened between the Ministry of Education and Science of Lithuania and the Education Councils of Lithuanians in the Diaspora. Neila holds an M.A. in Ethnology (Cultural Anthropology) from Vytautas Magnus University, Lithuania, and has a passion for languages.
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