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What can your story be in the United States?

1 posts categorized "Aurelija Oleandraite"


People working for people

So it took me slightly more than six months to put my minds and impressions together and come up with this message I want to tell you.  Honestly, I’ve started writing this blog like five times during these six months, but never managed to finish.. :) I guess the only thing I can blame, besides me being busy with million other things, is the overwhelming amount of impressions and experiences I had to go through.

Now my internship is slightly more than half way and it’s truly very hard to put my experiences in to words. To apply for BAFF internship was definitely one of the best choices I made in my whole life so far! I was hoping to get some international experience in my professional field, but this internship is way beyond what I expected from it.

It is said “Find a job you love and you’ll never have to work again”. But a job is a job, it is not a vacation whatsoever. But only when you do what you truly love, what you are passionate about and what you believe is a right thing to do, the reward that you get is remarkable and that is the best inducement that you can ask for!

During years at Vilnius University Faculty of Law, I almost accidently got involved in NGO’s and non-profit law. With a friend we went to so called ‘volunteering market’, willing to find an organization where we could spent some free time working with kids, pets or the ones that needed our attention and care the most (now that I’m thinking retrospectively, I always had this volunteering bug inside me, and this shouldn’t be a huge surprise if you have ever met my family :) ).

But then our freshmen law student’s eyes got distracted by a non-profit organization which had a mission to help Lithuanian civil society to become more active through making our legislation ngo-friendly. So this is how I started my journey in this so called ‘third sector’ and started learning together with and from great amount of passionate professionals and volunteers from different fields.


Ngo fair
Representing NGO law institute at NGO fair. Kedainiai, Lithuania 2011.

Celebrating passage of a new law on Charity and Sponsorship Funds. Me (middle) with Minister of Justice R. Šimašius (left) and Integrity strategic consultant A. Pemkus (right). Vilnius, Lithuania 2012

This passion helped to cognize what I want from life and what I need to hold on to make sure I get what I want. In order to get this, I needed to continue learning; learning from the best. This is how I ended up here where I am now.

I probably could not find a better place to experience best practices of NGO’s activities than Minnesota. The ability to learn from professionals, like The Advocates for Human Rights, whose been doing amazing work in the United States and many other countries worldwide, provided me this opportunity to uplift my knowledge to a different level.


The team
Women's Human Rights team: Rose, Beatriz, Mary E., Cheryl, Helen, me and Mary O. Minneapolis, MN 2012.


Minnesota in general is an amazing state, with its metropolis – a hub of great civil society organizations and people working for people. One of the first experiences to prove this was a non-profit bank, which I’m a proud client of.

Since I got this amazing opportunity to work in Women’s Human Rights Program with a group of amazing women, literally making the world a better place to live by tirelessly eliminating violence against women worldwide, I also got a chance to meet so many inspirational people, like Professor Mrs. Sharon Rice Vaughan, who shared her story how she established the very first shelter for victims of domestic violence in The United States and Minnesota Senate President Sandra Pappas, who invited me to her office to share ideas and experiences about important legislative work to ensure and protect human rights.


Mrs. Sharon
Visiting Bridges to Safety with Professor Mrs. Sharon (front) and my dear colleague Mary Ellingen (back). St. Paul, MN 2013.


Thanks to my dear mentor Mary Ellingen, who greatly contributed to make my internship happen and incredibly valuable as it is, I also got a chance to meet with representatives of fascinating organizations who are helping people when they are in the most difficult situations in their life: Bridges to Safety (where I just started volunteering at), Women’s Advocates, and many others.

Every day is a journey, teaching me different approaches, new methods and understanding the great value of people (our differences, also similarities). These wonderful examples of people working for people, creating tolerant and non-violent communities, helping the one who needs it the most, inspires me greatly and helps me feel confident that I’m on the right track, exactly where I wanted to be. So keep on rolling, learning, giving and sharing! :)