It has been almost two months since I’ve concluded my Project Manager duties at the Joint Baltic American National Committee (JBANC), which has allowed me some time to reflect on my year in Washington, D.C.
I’m so thankful that the Baltic-American Freedom Foundation (BAFF) Scholarship allowed me to work on strengthening the common interests between the Baltic countries and the United States. And while it is clear that my experience was unexpectedly divided into “before and “during” the COVID-19 pandemic, through these difficulties I’ve certainly grown stronger both professionally and personally.
During the first half of the year following my arrival in the U.S. back in October, 2019, I was glad to work to help organize a high-level Baltic-American conference in Washington, D.C., as well as participate in many meetings with the U.S. State Department officials, and Members and staff of the U.S. Congress and Senate. I had great collaboration with Karl Altau, the JBANC Board and other colleagues.
Some of the other highlights included meetings with the newly appointed U.S. Ambassadors to Latvia and Lithuania, participating in events with Speaker Nancy Pelosi and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, as well as witnessing the impeachment process. I have also had plenty of opportunities to travel, including our enrichment trip to sunny San Diego, California.
After the COVID-19 lockdown suddenly changed our lives, we adapted to working mostly remotely. Our work focus also changed – instead of in-person meetings, which have been crucial part of advocacy by JBANC, as well as having to cancel many events we had planned for this year, we increased our online outreach. During the lockdown, we organized a Twitterstorm to highlight the importance of remembering World War II history, marked 80 years since the Welles Declaration, and actively supported the people of Belarus in their struggle for freedom.
As I look back from Latvia today, I am also glad that I have an opportunity to remain involved with JBANC through a NATO Public Diplomacy Division funded project which we are developing. We aim to publish it in December, and it will take an interactive look of the journey of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania joining NATO. Asides from that, I am keeping an open mind to a further collaboration on Baltic related issues.