Where are you from?

I was born in Siauliai, Lithuania

What was it like growing up?

Due to Soviet occupation my parents had to flee their beloved homeland to escape being deported to Siberia. Since I was a very young girl I do not recall the horror of war and fleeing ones homeland. My parent’s settled in a Displaced Persons camp in Diepholz, Germany. We lived in army barracks. Thus fortunate to have private rooms for my father was a principal of the school that was established for the refugees. United States had a program for accepting refugees from Eastern and Central Europe. My parents decided to immigrate to the States. A US sponsor was required. Our family was sponsored by a Catholic priest from Pittsburgh ,PA./ He was not a relative nor we knew of him before he provided the sponsorship. Our first USA home was Pittsburgh, PA.

What brought you to Cleveland?

There was a shortage of jobs in Pittsburgh plus we learned that there was a larger Lithuanian community in Cleveland. My family moved to Cleveland for job opportunities and to have their children be part of a Lithuanian Community where Saturday Schools, folk dancing and ensembles provided integration into the community as well as upkeep of language and traditions.

What were your first thoughts about coming to America? Did those change?

I thought I was coming to a country where the streets were paved in gold. Getting off the boat in New York we saw that the streets were just full of papers flying around, but still it was a promise land full of opportunities.

What challenges did you face as an immigrant transitioning here?

I had to learn the language in order to go to school.. It was a very interesting experience. Started in the first grade being third grade level. Classmates would bring me candy and popcorn.

What is your occupation?

I run my own company, IB International and serve as the Honorary General Consul of the Republic of Lithuania in, Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky.

How have other Clevelanders made you feel welcomed?

Growing up in a Lithuanian- American community it was like home away from home. It was very different for both of my parents who were college educated teachers and they could not have jobs in their profession. Until they learned the language they had to do menial jobs.. Even later they never obtained jobs equivalent to their education. They were determined enough to make a good living and educate all four daughters through college. Had time for their children and the kept up with the Lithuanian traditions. Our neighbors respected that we spoke another language and in some cases learned a few Lithuanian words.

What traditions or customs do you continue to practice?

All Lithuanian traditions are kept up in our household. Most interesting ones are Christmas Eve dinner, Easter, Various customs like St Johns Day, Velines “Remembering the Dead”, Uzgavienes, before Lent. Etc.

What do you love about Cleveland?

I lived here for the larger part of my life. Have been educated here , started my carrier here and got married and raised 5 children, whom are all bilingual. It is my second homeland. Cleveland has so much to offer and so much to enjoy.

Many great educational institutions, museums, and Erie shores. A city with all seasons and many opportunities.

What is your favorite thing to do in Cleveland?

My favorite thing is Cleveland Orchestra concerts, Blossom in the Summer, various cultural events and fine restaurants.

What is the best thing about living in Cleveland?

Cleveland is a very economical town a great place to raise a family. Outstanding educational institutions as well as cultural; Great communities with many trees. No wonder it is called the Emerald Necklace.

Why is Global Cleveland a great resource?

Cleveland being a ethnic mosaic with various nationality centers and organizations but it always lacked a center were immigrants that were settling in Cleveland could get assistance which their communities may not have the resources.

Why is it so important to welcome immigrants and refugees?

USA is a country of immigrants they came from various countries of the world since the country was founded and the tradition continues even today, A welcome is always the first impression of a city and a attraction to settle.

What suggestions do you have to make Cleveland a more welcoming community?

Global Cleveland should hold open houses and others activities which would translate into a very welcoming Center. Most importantly to be a Cent