Meet Ernest - a Polish, third year LCC student, majoring in Contemporary Communication. Ernest has had extensive experience in music, and currently works at the non-profit suicide prevention organization, Gausus Gyvenimas, giving practical action to his Christian beliefs. At the core of Ernest’s life is the value of Christian love and action to help others. As he sees it, people and their cultures have the ability to shape and improve each other.
How was it for you to grow up in Lithuania as a Polish minority?
The Vilnius region overall, where I grew up, is a good environment for the Polish minority. There are some Polish-majority towns, and even quite a few Polish schools. I did in fact, grow up in one of these Polish towns in Lithuania. The language barrier is challenging, yet rewarding. I earned the respect of my Lithuanian friends, always making the effort to speak their language whenever I was with them, even if there were mispronunciations in every sentence. It was especially stressful preparing for the national exams, which are fully in Lithuanian. I had to switch between Polish and Lithuanian textbooks, and had to reach a proficiency level in Lithuanian.
Why did you decide to study at LCC over another Lithuanian or Polish university?
A friend from my home town went to LCC and recommended it to me. At that time I was still in the final year of high school. Having successfully passed the TOEFL English proficiency test, I was accepted into LCC two months before I had my national exams in high school. I was particularly happy because it made the whole application process really smooth, easy, and stress-free. It also meant that I didn’t need to worry so much about the national exams and the language challenges.
You’re a Communications major. What thought process went behind this decision?
While I was in the PRIME program here at LCC, I was considering Business Administration. However, my roommates at the time were Business majors, and I saw that the major had a lot to do with numbers, statistics and so on. It didn’t interest me as much as I thought it would. I turned to Communications, because it is a very diverse major, including fields such as advertising, communications, video production, etc. I aim to have good communication skills and hold them as an important part of my success. For instance, I enjoyed the Intercultural Communication course, which helped me recognize the importance of CQ (Cultural Intelligence) - the skill of adapting one’s communication depending on the cultural context where the communication takes place.
What is the big interest in your life?
Actually, this interest is not related to Communication! It’s music, and I’ve had a long musical history with a couple of different bands and ensembles. I started singing when I was 12. I had a very good, yet persistent, singing teacher who would always push me for the best results. After a few years I joined a folk band called Wileńszczyzna who had concerts for Polish communities in Brazil, Israel and many other countries. The name comes from the Vilnius region as it is called in Polish. In the group, we sang about the Polish people during the 2nd World War. Fast forward a couple more years, and I met a well known Polish musician, who invited me to his youth music band. He taught me drums, and we started doing covers of famous international songs as well as touring. We split up when most members of the band went off to different universities. Then, in the summer before coming to LCC, I joined another folk band, but had to quit after seeing that it was difficult to travel from Klaipėda to the concerts. I knew I needed a more local experience, and I started playing drums and occasionally singing at LCC’s chapel. Currently, I’m a part of the vocal ensemble Vowel here at Klaipėda. I’m really happy with my music experiences!
What does Christianity mean to you?
The meaning of Christianity has changed for me in several ways. When I joined the chapel, for example, I was surprised to see how other people prayed. I was used to the traditional Catholic prayers, whereas here, the others were casually praying to themselves and talking directly to God. Another thing I’ve noticed over time is that some people can take their religious ideals to the extreme and can not be healthy for relating to others. For instance, not kissing or even hugging the person you like in fear of falling to lust and therefore sin. Additionally, in conversations with people and specifically the Theology professors, I have learned that some things in the Bible are not meant to be taken literally but rather have more subtle figurative meanings. In these ways, not only do I see Christianity as varied and diverse, but I also see that there can be problematic areas in people’s approach to Christianity. I have decided that the moral teachings of Christ are what is really important for me in my faith. For me, Christianity equals love and support. Not only just through prayer, but even more through action.
In what ways does exposure to other worldviews impact your own?
Just because life is one way for you, it doesn’t mean that it’s the same for everyone. Similarly, Christianity at LCC is not the same as Christianity in Pakistan, or somewhere else. Studying Contemporary Communications - a diverse major - has given me a better idea of the diverse world, which is very intriguing! Diversity can be challenging, but I choose to embrace it, with mutual respect. Christianity seems to also have diversity, and so does every religion, but that’s also an opportunity. People we are exposed to, influence us. As it says in the Bible, as iron sharpens iron. I believe that people and cultures can help shape each other in a good way.