Participants (around 40 people all in all) played games, walked the path of sensations, learned about Chinese culture and traditions, tasted food prepared according to various national culinary traditions and made the tea of friendship. Project Coordinator Gunta Viksne (Gunta Vīksne) tells that the target audience of the event are people, who have come to Latvia from countries outside the European Union. “Chinese arrived a bit earlier for the event. Soon the woman from Ukraine arrived too. They all study Latvian together. Their meeting was very warm, they hugged each other and inquired after each other`s state of affairs. This gives them a sort of sense of security. You have come from a far away country, but still can meet with friends here. Latvian society is not very open, but such events enable people of different nationalities to learn more about each other, and possibly helps the development of a network of friends later on,” says G.Viksne.
Interpreter Semija Langa, who will attend Class 11 in the autumn, and speaks Latvian well, helps along our conversation with the Chinese Sjaofengu Džū, who lives at Ozolnieki with his wife, their seven year old daughter and four year old son for the last three years. Sjaofengu Džū is not employed in Latvia, however, he owns an enterprise in China. He likes that it is so quiet here compared to the large cities. He and his family came to Latvia to slow down the hectic pace of their life and his family appreciates it. Sjaofengu also loves the beautiful scenery and the friendly people. Since children are still small and he devoted a lot of time and effort to furnishing their family home, there has not been enough time to learn Latvian and he has begun it only this year. He does not consider Latvian a difficult language, but Sjaofengu admits that he should set aside more time to master it.
The Ukrainian Jekaterina Zborovska, a journalist by education, lives in Jelgava with her family for the fourth year. She likes living in Jelgava. “The most important thing is that it is peaceful here,” says Jekaterina. She appreciates the project, the work of the Latvian teacher Dace (Dace) and everyone, who provides assistance on a day-to-day basis. Jekaterina is studying Latvian for one and a half months and admits that the widespread use of Russian in Latvia hinders greatly the progress of her Latvian. “However we feel at home in Jelgava,” says Jekaterina, whose hobby is baking. She brought a cake made using a Ukrainian recipe for the participants of the event.
ICI representative Gunita Berza (Gunita Bērza) says that the event presented a great opportunity to learn to know people from other cultures, who live alongside us, and invites everyone to participate in the work of the centre as a volunteer, “to continue the good works aimed at creating a friendly environment in your region and in the country all together”.
ICI operates as a one one-stop-shop and provides information and support to persons, who have come to Latvia from countries outside the EU, as well as professional support to service providers in all municipalities in Latvia, coordinates awareness and availability of services to various groups of immigrants. ICI offices are located in Riga and at four Points of Contact – in Kurzeme (Liepaja), in Vidzema (Cesis), in Latgale (Daugavpils), in Zemgale (Jelgava). ICI Point of Contact in Jelgava provides support to immigrants, who have chosen to settle in Zemgale. ICI Zemgale telephone helpline: +371 25719588, email: email@example.com, Peldu Street 7 – 211, Jelgava.
“Information Centre for Immigrants” is implemented within the framework of the Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund and is co-funded by the European Union. Activities of the Information Centre are ensured and developed by the Society “Shelter “Safe House””. Grant agreement No. PMIF/12/2016/1/1.
Information prepared by Santa Logina (Santa Logina), newspaper "Zemgales Ziņas", and Rasa Salina (Rasa Saliņa), Communications and Social Media Expert, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org