Officially, Viktorija Giedraitiene is the Director of the Center for International Education (CIE) at LCC International University, but she likes to call herself a busy bee, who does a little bit of everything. She is also responsible for the smooth operation of the Study Abroad program, ensuring the greatest experiences for LCC students, and others coming from all around the world. Viktorija is an LCC alumna and has been with LCC for 8 years as an employee. As we look into her vast working experience, we discussed the benefits of cultural exchange, different perspectives on institutional partnerships, and how Viktorija does it all.
It’s easy to notice Viktorija’s charm and positiveness once you get a chance to talk to her. The first time she heard about LCC International University was in high school, a few decades ago. Although studies in Klaipeda were never in her plans, as she reminisces on her experiences, Viktorija wouldn’t have changed it for anything. “It was a very progressive institution with a vision. My passion for international backgrounds and desire for education led me to LCC,” shared Giedraitiene. Throughout the studies, the student was involved in every possible leadership position: First Year Seminar, Study Abroad, Spiritual Life, and kept herself busy on top of her studies. In the 2000s the university experience was slightly different, as the institution was quite young. For example, the Michaelsen Center was built during Viktorija’s first year of study. She was always drawn to multiculturalism, international experiences, diversity, and that was exactly what made her choose to pursue a degree at LCC.
After graduation from LCC, Viktorija relocated to continue her academic journey in the United Kingdom and pursued a postgraduate degree at Brighton University. During that time, Viktorija had a chance to work in an international company as an administrative assistant, later moving to a personal assistant position. The experience gained in these backgrounds enriched Viktorija’s expertise and paved a path to climb the career ladder in further positions. She has extensive experience in the tourism sector, also working in Klaipeda, creating itineraries for the tourists, and training guides in Lithuania.
This alumna, who returned to LCC as an employee, kick-started her career as an Experience Coordinator and was responsible for the student experience of students who came from North America to Lithuania with the Study Abroad program. Viktorija was planning and leading the trips in Lithuania, the Baltic States region, and also a semester break in Russia. After working three years as an Experience Coordinator, Viktorija made a smooth transition to her current position at LCC. As the Director of the Centre for International Education (CIE), she oversees all exchange programs, including Erasmus, International Exchange, and Study Abroad. When asked about her day-to-day responsibilities, Viktorija laughs saying she does a little bit of everything at the office, but always tries to find balance. Ranging from morning meetings, answering emails to promoting exchange opportunities, and establishing partnerships with partner institutions worldwide. “In normal circumstances, there would be around five summer groups from visiting partner institutions, and we would be out and about exploring, and I would not even see my co-workers sometimes even for five weeks or so. We like to joke that the CIE office is slowly becoming a traveling agency,” laughed Viktorija. The pandemic has affected the operation of the programs significantly, but Viktorija mentions that in the last Fall and Spring semesters, they managed to welcome students from European partner institutions.
Viktorija highlighted the importance and benefits of collaboration between partner institutions. She emphasized that having a variety of institutions as partners, from different countries, enables students to have valuable experiences, to explore cultures and education models. “These types of partnerships empower and provide valuable connections in higher education. We have over 70 partnerships worldwide, and we’re motivated to expand,” commented Viktorija. Part of the process to establish new partnerships is participation in International Conferences, and alongside her teammates, Viktorija represents LCC to potential collaborators. “LCC offers a liberal arts education model, which is different from other universities in Lithuania, so it’s a unique feature to gain further dialogue with partners.” At LCC, foreign students benefit from a diverse environment, great quality classes in English, native English-speaking staff and faculty, and receive full support from our university. International recognition and networking play a big part in the partnerships and are a getaway to make new connections.
Viktorija hopes that in the upcoming academic year, life will get back to normal or the new normal. “Covid pandemic added many new challenges, but the CIE office hopes to welcome more students from our partners in Asia, North America, and Europe, and help them experience the best time at LCC. We are ready to restart.”
As the pandemic is slowly easing down, Viktorija’s plans evolve only around a well-deserved vacation. “I never thought I would come back to LCC as an employee, but here I am, happy and hopeful for the future.”