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Viktorija - Chair of LISA

Viktorija - Chair of LISA

The interior of a traditional Spanish restaurant in Merchant City, Glasgow was like juxtaposition to my internal calm composure, whilst waiting on my interlocutor Viktorija. The mix of bright and provoking décor colours merged into a background of tranquil reds, helping me to go over scenarios and sequence of questions prior the conversation, but the more I thought, the more I felt that this person will dictate the rhythm and style of the interview rather than vice versa.

Viktorija greeted me with her broad smile and a sincere hug, which was sort of an invite into her personal space to get to know her. 

Since I met Viktorija Macdonald through the Lithuanians in Scotland Association (LISA), the first topic was specifically about us, Lithuanians, living in Scotland, and the importance of this organization to its Chair.

“LISA for me is an intermediate relation with Lithuania and my cultural identity. I think, that wherever I am, I feel I always have to represent my country and honour it with the work I do“, Viktorija shares her worldly views with a friendly smile. She emphasizes the importance of keeping improving the status quo. People in the community who know Viktorija, say that she has Lithuania at heart, which allowed the community under her lead to gain more professionalism and consistent ideological improvement. Hence, Viktorija speaks about LISA as a special platform to enable and empower Lithuanian community to express themselves and become part other communities living in Scotland. One of the favourite initiatives undertaken by Viktorija that she is most proud of is the Friendship Agreement between the Royal Incorporation of Architects (RIAS) and Lithuanian Union of Architects, which signed in 2014 and allowed Vilnius City taking part in the modern Cities Expo in the framework of the Year of Architecture and Design Scotland in June-July 2016. The stand at this expo allowed local residents and visitors the visitors to the expo to get familiar with the ideas of a progressive Lithuanian capital city, relying on heritage yet forward looking.

As you might have gathered, Viktorija is an active person, who has a family, is a chair of LISA, and runs two other businesses, i.e. Baltic Business Connections Ltd. and Baltic Film Society Ltd. (co-founder). Viktorija and her husband started her whisky export to the Baltic States and Eastern Europe back in 2012 and this part of her life Viktorija mentions with great pleasure. Not only the whisky export business idea stemmed from a visit to Glengoyne whisky distillery, but her personal relationship evolved over a dram as well. Currently, Viktorija puts all her effort in diversifying the whisky portfolio, helping to organize Lithuanian Whisky and Food Festival in Klaipeda, running whisky club at Oran Mor and mainly focusing on the development of a new drink via Entrepreneurial Spark business platform. Thus whisky became not only business, but passion in many senses of the word. 

When asked about her favourite projects, she mentioned two: International Tourism Master’s implemented at Vilnius University, which was first modular and joint degree programme of this type in Lithuania, and the bycicle route from Lithuanian resort Palanga to the Latvian border. “It is great to see that your ideas can become a tangible reality for many people.”

Before coming to Scotland, Viktorija implemented over 100 projects between Scotland and Lithuania in education sector. For her achievements, she was awarded the Prince Phillip award for entrepreneurship in public sector in 2006.

At leisure, Viktorija spends a lot of time developing LISA activities to showcase Lithuanian community, which recently saw the set up of the Lithuanian library in Scotland, initiation of the Lithuanian jazzman Kestutis Vaiginis concert at Glasgow Jazz Festival and development of Lithuanian language school via national funding. Together with her colleagues Daiva Ivanauskaite and Elona Daina Bytautiene she co-founded Baltic Film Society Ltd., which allows spreading the word about Baltic film and filmmakers in Scotland and opportunities for the filmmakers to establish a dialogue. Viktorija’s ideal past time is boat trips on Loch Lomond in her family’s boat and writing poems and short stories, which seamlessly  blend into the colourful life of this woman.

When asked about future plans and goals in the framework of LISA, Viktorija pensively structures her plans forward where an absolutely focus is a closer and more cohesive relation between Lithuanian communities in Scotland. A sincere laughter follows Viktorija’s comment that it would take more than once conversation to answer all the questions, which took us to the end of the conversation as the restaurant curtains were being pulled closed.

Having bid good bye to Viktorija and closed the restaurant doors behind me, I unhurriedly pace down home, escorted by the shadows falling from the columns of the municipal building I pass by. This building is a peace of art, decorating monumental Glasgow city centre and reminding of such people like Viktorija – strong like rocks and determined to follow their dreams. Nothing more, nothing less. 


By Agnė Gaidyte

Renginių kalendorius


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