More than 200 current and former faculty, alumni, students, staff, supporters, and friends of the European Humanities University (EHU) gathered at historic Vilnius Town Hall to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the founding of the University.
EHU Founding Rector Prof. Dr. Anatoli Mikhailov welcomed guests and thanked Lithuania and the international coalition of friends and supporters who made it possible for EHU to reach its 20th anniversary.
Lithuanian Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius stated that EHU's presence in Vilnius has been beneficial not only for EHU, but for Lithuania, too. Kubilius said he believes freedom will come to Belarus. When it does and the time is right for EHU to return to the place of its founding, the prime minister said he hopes it will maintain a presence in Vilnius, as well.
"The European Humanities University...is exactly the instrument that brings a feeling of freedom and the will to freedom to this part of Europe," said the prime minister.
In his video message, Vilnius Mayor Artūras Zuokas said it is an honor for Vilnius to host EHU and that Belarusian students are most welcome here.
"Your university plays a great role in the relationship between the people of Lithuania and Belarus adding great diversity and positive energy to the city of Vilnius," said the mayor.
Business for Peace Awardee, entrepreneur Dr. Vladas Lašas reminded guests that education is now international and that EHU's students are in a great position to take advantage of that. Lithuanian MP Emanuelis Zingeris encouraged students to draw inspiration from the Lithuanian independence movement Sajudis and work for change in Belarus.
Best Undergraduate Student, Class of 2011 Alena Mikhailava (no relation to the rector) gave a tribute to her alma mater and also to Founding Rector Prof. Dr. Anatoli Mikhailov on behalf of current students and the more than 40 alumni who attended.
"It is a Belarusian university that is small but powerful in its ability to change the inner world of every student who enters through its doors," said Mikhailava. "Here I became more aware of my own country. Here I understood that nothing can stop you when you are motivated."
Guests also enjoyed a performance by singer and folklorist Dr. Maria Krupoves, who sang Lithuanian, Belarusian, Polish, and Yiddish songs representing the cultural diversity of the region. Krupoves was accompanied by pianist Daumantas Slipkus and violinist Vytautas Mikeliūnas, who provided additional musical entertainment while refreshments were served and a silent auction took place on items donated by EHU students Tatsiana Gorgolya, Julia Prokharava, artists Gintaras Tadauskas and Alonas Štelmanas, Euromedienos Grupė, Gera Muzika Gyvai, Petesha, Snow Arena, Sostinių golfo klubas, and Sputnik Photos.
The celebration was generously sponsored by the Nordic Council of Ministers and the City of Vilnius. EHU thanks Rasa Gečaitė, Daiva Janulaitytė-Günther, Zigmas Kalesinskas, and Maria Krupoves for their kind contributions to the event.