Everything You Wanted to Know, About Lithuania (More of Less)

Growing Up Austin - A Lithuanian Story all the way from Texas

When I introduced this series of Lithuanian posts (on a family blog about hiking, music and art in Austin?!??!), I asked readers to let me know what you wanted to know about students in my classes. I answered some questions in previous posts and combined other questions into these two. The students were excited to let people know more about Lithuania. They have great pride and love for their country. Here are highlights of their answers.

What is your favorite Lithuanian food?

  • Lithuanian Curd – Loose cottage cheese with sour cream, chopped garlic and salt, eaten with boiled potatoes
  • Vegetables
  • Cepelinai Dumplings – Dumplings with minced beef and onions inside, steamed in a special pot
  • Chocolate
  • Everything made by my Mom
  • Soup of Bread and Water – Chunks of very dense Lithuanian black bread and put in water with a little sugar. (During difficult times, some people relied on this soup.)

What do you wish people outside of Lithuania knew about Lithuania?

  • The capital of Lithuania is NOT Riga! Latvia and Lithuania are different countries! (Riga is the capital of Latvia.)
  • The most beautiful women in the world are in Lithuania.
  • Lithuanians are industrious and hard working. The show great hospitality and creativity. The focus more on the needs of the country instead of the needs of individuals.
  • Lithuanians are problem solvers. A man from a small village can make a fake wooden tooth by himself, he doesn’t need a dentist.
  • Lithuania is made of four different regions, each with a somewhat different culture and different dialect of the Lithuanian language.
  • Lithuania has beautiful and amazing nature, with rolling green fields, tall, dense forests and the Baltic coast. I love this country.

Thanks for hanging out with me for this set of posts. What is coming up next for Growing Up Austin? I can’t say for sure right now. Stay tuned to find out more…

Growing Up Austin - A Lithuanian Story All the Way From TexasWelcome to a special series on GrowingUpAustin.com, A Lithuanian Story – All the Way From Texas. I am traveling to Lithuania this summer to teach storytelling at A.P.P.L.E., an education conference that I first taught at almost twenty years ago. The new conference is fully of mystery and adventure. The first conference gave me stories I have been telling ever since. So, I decided to write about the trips here. If you have just joined, here is a summary of the posts. I’ll return to writing about hiking, live music and art for Austin kids when I get back in July. Information is always available at AustinKidsHike.com (hiking), AustinKidsDance.com (live music) and AustinKidsDraw.com (art).


Can You SHOW Us a Story?

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The music from the choir of Ziburys Gymnasiam was a beautiful start to the APPLE summer session in Prienai, Lithuania. Not everything was being translated, so when the choir director asked us to join the singing in groups, I started singing a round even though it wasn’t a round and then I stared singing with the men.

My storytelling class that I had prepared for since February finally started. After a few modules, late in the afternoon, Adele asked the question, through the interpreter, “Can you show us a story?”

We had been talking about stories in general, then about true, personal stories. They were about to begin to write their own true, personal story.

I said, “Yes, I have an example of an amazing true, personal story on video.” It was Ophira Eisenberg’s The Accident from The Moth.

“No,” she said. “We want YOU to tell a story.” Several people in the class nodded in agreement.

I smiled. I had been talking about the power of stories, to entertain, educate, persuade and transform. I had been talking about how telling and listening to stories in person allows for a connection you can’t always get with reading or writing or from watching a video on You Tube. Even if it is an Ophira Eisenberg video.

I was smiling because it was funny that I hadn’t thought of this. I should have started the class about stories with a story. Sure, there had been shorter stories mixed in during the day and there were more of those to come, but there should be one really big, badass story to show, live and in person, just how a story can draw people in, fill the room with energy and leave a mark, a memory and maybe a change.

But, could I do it now, by request, without preparing forever like I usually do?

More or less.

I chose a story I had written and prepared a few years ago. Maybe I thought of this one first, because it is the one I had prepared for a Moth open mic in New York City, when Ophira Eisenberg was the host. But, my name didn’t get picked from the hat that night, so I only got to share my first sentence….

I was lying on a stretcher, with nurses and doctors all around me, when a priest handed me the phone and said, “It’s your Mom.”

Today, I told the whole story. Now the students know what they are going to do.  I’ll let you know how it goes…

I have the questions y’all asked the students to answer, if you have another one, leave it in the comments or just say “Hello!” They will read the posts and comments in the morning (which is your Wednesday night)!


A Lithuanian Story, All the Way From Texas: There Is So Much I Want to Tell You

Growing Up Austin - A Lithuanian Story All the Way From Texas(Welcome to a special series on GrowingUpAustin.com, A Lithuanian Story – All the Way From Texas. I am traveling to Lithuania this summer to teach storytelling at A.P.P.L.E., an education conference that I first taught at almost twenty years ago. The new conference is fully of mystery and adventure. The first conference gave me stories I have been telling ever since. So, I decided to write about the trips here. If you have just joined, here is a summary of the posts. I’ll return to writing about hiking, live music and art for Austin kids when I get back in July. Information is always available at AustinKidsHike.com (hiking), AustinKidsDance.com (live music) and AustinKidsDraw.com (art).)
Growing Up Austin - A Lithuanian Story - All the Way From Texas

There is so much I want to tell you.

But, there are times to write about what is happening and other times to get busy making it happen.

In my day job as a project manager, I would say that this class I’m teaching is a high risk. I’m teaching storytelling, a personal and language-based topic, to students of a different culture and who don’t speak my language. It’s a new class, teaching isn’t my day job and it’s not like I have an MFA in storytelling either.

But, some of the accomplishments I’m most proud of are ones that didn’t make logical sense. There is adventure in doing something that might seem like a bad idea. And I’ve been doing it every day and late into the night for a while now. I want it to make it great.

Which is why I haven’t been posting. I haven’t forgotten about y’all. I just need to finish this class first. And go on an anniversary vacation with my sweetie during which I’m NOT going to work on the class. Those two things. Which I hope will both happen before I get on the plan to Lithuania in just a few weeks.

I’ll be back.

Because there is so much I want to tell you.