Latvian independence celebrated at Indiana University

Indiana Daily Student
Andriane Jefferson
November 13, 2008

Latvian songs of celebration filled the ears of many Thursday night while students rejoiced at 90 years of Latvian independence. The event, which consisted of Latvian speeches, songs and food, was sponsored by the Baltic and Finnish Studies Association in the Faculty Club at the Indiana Memorial Union.

Baltic and Finnish Studies uses these events to promote cultural understanding as well as educate people about the scholars that come out of the Baltic countries including Finland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, said Baltic and Finnish Studies President, Christine Beresniova.

“Latvia was actually the first of the Baltic states that led to the end of Soviet Union by declaring independence from them and joining NATO.” Beresniova said “This is the type of importance we want to educate people about, but many people don’t even know where these countries are located.”

Although many of the students who attended the celebration were of Baltic descent or majoring in Baltic studies, members of Baltic and Finnish Studies still said they believed these events have much to offer other students.

“You have the ability to hear wonderful speeches, listen to folk songs and eat authentic food and meet people from these countries,” Baltic and Finnish Studies member and Estonian lecturer Piibi-Kai Kivik said. “Being able to learn and experience different cultures is always positive for a student.”

The students who attended said they had a good time.

“I randomly saw a flyer and decided to come,” said senior Kristina Brenneman. “I enjoyed the music, and the food is incredible.”

Baltic and Finnish Studies celebrates each country’s independence, as well as a Baltic film festival every year.

“This is where we showcase the talent of the countries,” Beresonovia said. “Many people think that these countries split from the Soviet Union, and that was it. The film festival shows that these countries are still providing major contributions.”

Although it wasn’t the largest turnout, the Baltic and Finnish Studies organization is still adamant about informing and educating students about these countries.

“It’s a small group,” Kivik said. “But it’s dedicated.”