The first time Scott Neumann came to Lithuania was in 2007 as a part of his missionary work. However, the love for teaching brought Scott back to Lithuania in 2015. Despite facing cultural challenges at times, Scott admires the diversity of students at LCC and Lithuanian culture.
Could you please introduce yourself and share with us how you decided to move to Lithuania?
My name is Scott Neumann and I taught History and Political Science in Greenville University, Southern Illinois, U.S. for 15 years. My wife and I had been talking about doing educational missionary service overseas and we became involved with an organization called Global Scholars, which places Christian teachers in schools overseas. The first time we were placed at LCC was in 2007 and we found that we really love teaching here, so we decided to come back on a full time basis. We returned here in 2015 and have been here since.
What was the adaptation like for your family, moving from the U.S. to Lithuania?
The adaptation process is different for every person. My youngest daughter, Hannah, attends school here in Klaipėda, and she is quite well integrated into the Lithuanian culture. She has Lithuanian friends and speaks Lithuanian fluently. My three older children go to the same school part time, for music, art, dancing lessons, for PE and they have greater or lesser degrees of integration into the Lithuanian culture. For older children it was a bit difficult to switch from full time homeschooling to full time school, but for Hannah it made sense. I teach at LCC but I do not speak Lithuanian, since it is not vital for me at this point.
Were there any cultural aspects that surprised you when you first came to Klaipėda?
Certainly, it is a very different culture, a different society. I noticed that people are much less likely to smile at you on the sidewalk than they are in the United States. There are differences in etiquette in stores. However, it seems the streets are much safer here than they are in many parts of the U.S. and there is much better public transportation than where we were back at home. Since our visit in 2007 and until now, we noticed many pleasant changes. LCC helps a lot with that partly because you have an expatriate community here. We talk to each other about these things, we also have Lithuanian colleagues and they can help us with getting comfortable here in Lithuania, and Klaipėda in particular, as well.
What lifestyle changes have you had since coming to Lithuania?
In some ways, my life did not change. I was a university professor in the United States, and I am a university professor here. I think, there is more of a concern to succeed among students here, so they are more likely to do assignments, more prepared to work and so on. We moved to a bigger city so that is different and there are more opportunities here for traveling, so there is much more cultural diversity than we had in the U.S.
When back at home, what are the things you share about Lithuania with your family, friends?
We talk about things that strike us as funny or strange. For example, the fact that you go to the mall to buy fireworks and alcohol, all at one place. We talk about celebrations, the history of the place, all the different people we meet, the different places they come from. I suppose it is the striking differences that interest people. Before coming to Lithuania, I had only read about European countries, but now I know people from those European countries and that makes a difference. Sometimes people read about situations in Ukraine or in Syria and I can tell them what people from those countries think about those situations.
What are some of your reflections about your life in Lithuania?
It takes time to make friends with Lithuanians. They can be somewhat reserved, but once you have made friends with Lithuanians, they become very close ones. We love the students here at LCC, because they come from different backgrounds, experiences, interests, many different ways of thinking, and ideologies. The same is true for our children and they really enjoy meeting with students. We learned that the more involved you get both at the university and in the community, the more support you have, the more you understand what you are doing and why you are here. In general, our move to Lithuania has been a very fulfilling experience so far.