In an expression of solidarity with the Belarusian people and in support of the democratic aspirations of the citizens of the neighbouring state, this year Vilnius University (VU) made an exception for five students from Belarus and admitted them to medical studies at the Faculty of Medicine (MF). They have all studied at higher education institutions in their own country, however, due to political unrest and strengthened sanctions, there was a threat to their further studies.
One of the students admitted to VU MF, Jelizaveta, was grateful to everyone who has contributed to this fateful turn of her life: “This unique opportunity to join the community of one of the best and oldest universities in Europe opens up new horizons. We will share our professional knowledge, information and experience with our fellow students and lecturers. We will become highly-qualified professionals. I believe that our relationship and collaboration will become yet another bridge of friendship between our countries.”
Jelizaveta currently lives in Belarus and studies at Vilnius University remotely. When the study format changes, she promises to come to Lithuania. Until now, the student has visited Vilnius only once and already was fascinated with the unique Old Town of the capital of Lithuania and by how the history of Vilnius is closely connected with the affinity between the Lithuanian and Belarusian nations. J. Surta dreams of getting to know the city, the national and cultural characteristics of Lithuanians and the Faculty of Medicine better: “It is a great honour for me to become a student of this largest, prestigious faculty this year, when it celebrates its 240th anniversary.”
Jelizaveta is enjoying her studies at VU MF and is fully aware of the challenges ahead – she is looking forward to “live” studies and meeting her fellow students and lecturers. She stresses that the respect, freedom of opinion and beliefs of University are very important. Jelizaveta is pleased that her secret dream to learn Lithuanian has come true. “The first lesson with an excellent teacher of the Lithuanian language at VU dispelled all my fears – everything was very interesting and in a friendly environment. I have no doubt that I will soon speak one of the most beautiful languages in the world even if it is not easy,” Jelizaveta said.
Since her early childhood Jelizaveta has been interested in nature and her favourite books were encyclopaedias about the animal world. Each year she participated in and won various Biology Olympics for pupils in Belarus. That is why the decision to study molecular biology or medicine was made early. Medicine prevailed and her family, especially her grandmother who is a doctor, helped her to make the decision.
“My grandmother has always been there for me. She is exceptional, tactful and professional, and is loved by her patients. For me, she is the role model I would like to follow in my life. My grandmother has taught me that a doctor mainly heals with words – 50% of the success of the treatment depends on the doctor’s humanity and kindness. The other 50% depends on the doctor’s knowledge and professionalism,” she said.
The student speaks about the latest developments in her home country, Belarus, with pain and sadness. “I have actively expressed my position. I’ve just been lucky not to suffer much for my opinion. Many of my friends and acquaintances were arrested or suffered during peaceful demonstrations. I want to live in a free country where everyone’s human rights and freedoms are respected, where initiative is not punishable and the law applies equally to all citizens”.
The young student lives by the statement of the German writer, theatre critic, Bertold Brecht: “He who fights, can lose and he who doesn’t fight, has already lost.” She has no doubts that all that is best lies ahead for her and her beloved country. Jelizaveta wants to fulfil her dreams, realise her future plans, find her place in life and dedicate all her personal achievements to her people: “I want to see my homeland a democratic European state. I don’t want to feel guilty because my values and priorities and those of my people do not correspond with the political system in the country.”
In an expression of solidarity with the Belarusian people and in support of the democratic aspirations of the citizens of the neighbouring state, around 150 Belarusian students have been admitted to VU. It is expected that this initiative will allow young, motivated students to study in our country and to continue the traditions of nations and cultures that used to be part of the former Grand Duchy of Lithuania.