In an event attended by Lithuanians from 22 different countries, members of the diaspora were on Friday awarded at the presidential palace for their achievements.
“We gathered today to honour and congratulate the special people of global Lithuania,” said President Gitanas Nausėda, who presented the awards. “They maintain the connection between our country and the whole world, and encourage the sharing of knowledge and ideas, and of course, increase the visibility of the country.”
“Thanks to them we can talk about a bright Lithuania in a compact world,” he added.
The eighth annual awards organised by Global Lithuanian Leaders network included seven categories.
Arminas Ragauskas was awarded for the ‘Return of Knowledge’. His work led to NASA using technology developed in Lithuania to research the effect of space travel on human brain and sight.
When asked about his future plans, Ragauskas responded: “I have a colleague who is 94 and responds to the same question with ‘let’s live and see’.”
Marius Jakulius-Jason, the founder of AAA Law firm, was awarded for the ‘Return of Investment”. He returned to Lithuania from the US in 1992, and less than a year ago, he established the MJJF fund to support new businesses and people in academia.
A nomination for organising Lithuanians abroad was presented by LRT to ‘Mūsų metas DABAR’ (Our time is NOW), which was founded by the Lithuanian World Community (PLB). The initiative helped mobilise the Lithuanian diaspora to take part in elections, growing the number of expat voters threefold and leading to the establishment of an election constituency to represent the diaspora.
The award was presented to Rimvydas Baltaduonis, head of the commission established by the PLB to oversee the initiative.
Eugenijus Arvydas Janulaitis was awarded in the category for enabling bright and gifted professionals. For many years, Janulaitis has been issuing grants to gifted science PhD students, establishing labs for their research, as well as funding the creators of future sciences.
Readers of LRT.lt chose Vytautas Jonas Juška for his work in bringing change to the Lithuanian regions. After returning to the country after spending 50 years in Australia, Juška works with a creative project, Lietuviais esame mes gimę!’ (‘We are born Lithuanian!’), in the regions.
An award for lifetime achievement was presented to the Chicago-based Lithuanian newspaper, ‘Draugas’. The oldest Lithuanian newspaper has been published without interruption for 110 years.
An award for improving the visibility of Lithuania was presented to seven individuals – Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, a conductor, Asmik Grigorian, an opera singer, Agnė Kajackaitė and Urtė Neniškytė, both scientists, Evelina Daciūtė and Aušra Kiudulaitė, the co-authors of ‘Lapė yra laimė’ book, Lineta Mišeikytė, a film producer, as well as the authors of Sun and Sea Marina, the winning piece at the Venice Biennale, Rugilė Barzdžiukaitė, Vaiva Grainytė and Lina Lapelytė.
The winners and nominees were chosen by the former recipients, as well as partners and representatives of the event organisers, and the board of Global Lithuanian Leaders.