Fifty EHU alums from Lithuania and Belarus spent an evening networking and sharing memories of their alma mater at EHU's first alumni meeting in Minsk. Lithuania's Ambassador to Belarus Edminas Bagdonas, who hosted the meeting at the Lithuanian Embassy, kicked it off with a welcome to all alums, including those who attended EHU when it was in Minsk, as well as those who have graduated since it moved to Vilnius.
In his speech Ambassador Bagdonas congratulated EHU on its 20th anniversary. He said that he knows that situation has not been easy since EHU became a university-in-exile.
"We know why this university is in Vilnius today. Perhaps a Belarusian university should be in Belarus, but the current situation does not allow it to operate here. And we are proud that Lithuania can help and also share our experience with our friends, the Belarusians," said the ambassador.
EHU's Rector Anatoly Mikhailov addressed alumni by video.
"Over a short period of time, the European Humanities University has become one of the most important projects addressing Belarusian realities....We had to go through many challenges. And I regret that today I must greet you from Vilnius. For we are in exile, having paid a high price for what we are trying to do. We need to mobilize in order to continue what we started 20 years ago and what will be important for our country," said Mikhailov.
According to Andrei Khrapavitski, EHU's Alumni Affairs Coordinator (BA Political Science and European Studies, 2010), alums will benefit from staying in touch with their alma mater as well as with each other: "We are planning a number of initiatives that we hope will demonstrate the importance of maintaining, building, and utilizing EHU's alumni network. This includes a new website where you can find out more about your former classmates as well as opportunities for alumni. Most of all, we hope that you, our alumni, will take the initiative and help drive the activities of this network by establishing alumni chapters and staying in touch with us in Vilnius. That way we can all help each other advance."
The event was warmly received by EHU alums. Many said they appreciated the opportunity to reconnect and find out more about each other as well as how EHU has grown since they graduated.
Several members of EHU's administration and faculty were present at the event. Outgoing EHU Students' Union President Maksim Milto moderated the evening's program.
Participants also shared memories of their studies at EHU. Professor Alla Sokolova, dean of EHU's Graduate School and a long-time EHU professor, brought a photo book with photographs taken throughout EHU's 20-year history and a slide-show illustrating that history ran throughout the meeting. Alumni enjoyed recognizing former classmates and professors.
Participants were also invited to help future EHU students by making a donation to the new Alumni Scholarship Fund. About USD 1000 has been raised for the scholarship so far.
The event was graciously hosted by the Lithuanian Embassy in Minsk, which provided refreshments and space for the meeting.
For more information about EHU's alumni network and to contribute to the Alumni Scholarship Fund, click here. You can also find EHU alumni groups on Facebook, including international and North American groups.