The Educational Visit to Lithuania 2008 - 2nd day on Lithuania (18.09.2008)

The alarm woke us up at 8 a.m. Girls were running around the room, everyone took a shower. LORETA called us telling us about a traffic jam. We left the Hostel following the map that LORETA send us earlier. Point A was where we slept, point B... Wait, what's point B? After reading the email I noticed that the map pointed to SONEX (W2F → Window to Future office). When we reached point B we could locate the street and our target building. After that we called Laura for directions. It turned out that the place we had reached was a bus stop, from which we should to go further. Laura suggested taking a cab, but we couldn't find any. So we were walking from street to street. I was supposed to call her after taking a cab and pass the phone to the driver so she could tell him the name of the street where we were heading, because I had trouble with pronouncing or writing it down.

• Polish? - asked the cab driver.
• Yes, Polish – we replied.
• Talk in Polish, I'll understand you, lot's of people understand Polish here...

From now I knew we were doing fine. I phoned Laura and she talked to the driver, we hopped in and he took us to the SONEX building. While we were driving he told us about Lithuania and Poland. For example he told us it's very hard to get a driving license, their training cars are marked M, not L like ours and all are green. He mentioned that 20% of people in Lithuania are Polish. So we're supposed to use our mother language in shops, restaurants, bars or cabs :-)
While we were driving throught the city the driver was our guide, showing us some places and talking about them. One of them was Polish Culture Centre, which we were supposed to visit that day.

After getting out of the cab we were welcomed by a man called ALGIMANTOS, who was working for LORETA. We took the elevator to the third floor and there LORETA Krizinauskiene welcomed us. I saw her at Pauls photos from Sri Lanka, so her face seemed familiar to me. She's very nice, she treated us like lost children which found they way and finally returned – at least I felt that way. Her positive attitude helped me overcome my troubles with speaking English.
She walked us around the office. We talked about our buisness there. When we got at the office number 2 we met RITA and once again we were introduced with ALGIMANTOS. Next we went to the conference room, where some delicious morning coffee was waiting for us. I grab a cup, some milk, sugar, take a first sip – all will be good, we won't fail Paul!
There was a huge round table with a projector, a laptop, cups and some sweets, sugar from Poland ( CUKIER BIAŁY KRYSZTAŁ ) and materials for us. Big thanks for the effort. Laura told us about herself – she's the chief of W2F office. Next she introduced RITA, who in turn told about her job of handling the finances of the organization. ALGIMANTOS is responsible for preparing the training course materials and the ECDL courses. He was in replacement of a young student named Edvaldas Baltrunas, about who I'll write later.

After meeting LORETA's team it was our turn to introduce ourselves. Jola, Aneta, Monika and Me, in turn. I had to ask Monika for help in explaining what I do. We were talking about the training we organize, what we do and how we do it. Then our hosts exchanged their experiences with us.
Now I'm going to write which parts of their presentation got me most interested.

W2F supplies the country with Internet access points. Since year 2002, they have raised their users amount from 11% to 50%. They started from training people as a private company and then they joined and train in Microsoft Digital Literacy.

One of some interesting ideas was that every course participant receives training materials, some sort of a small handbook with all information from the course. Beside that, everyone gets a free email account hosted by Sonex in the domain and another handbook with some sort of a homework. Their course lasts for 5 days and like us, they give out certificates after finishing the course, because lot's of companies are interested in a form of documenting new skills. The average age of their participants is 43 years. There's only 5% of people aged 18-34 and 29% of people aged 25-39.

What are their plans for future?
They wish to increase the amount of people using the Internet. They've trained over 400 handicapped people. They're going to participate in Unlimited Potential to lower the amount of people unable to benefit from computers. With some feedback from their past courses' participants, they should choose the Internet, MS Excel, Safe using of Internet and MS PowerPoint Unlimited Potential training modules.

As for their marketing, that means promoting their course, they use mainly press articles. LORETA was on the radio few times. They also use fliers, posters and their web page. They shared their latest idea with us. They're going to start a SMS campaign, which is about sending SMS to people who has finished their course recommending further trainings. They use some other company services to find new trainers and rooms for classes.

ALGIMANTOS took his turn and gave us an extensive lecture about the ECDL course.
Most important for me was the information, that you could learn to use various software like OpenOffice and Linux operating system, not limiting to Microsoft software.
There are 9 lecture modules in ECDL/ICDL:
1. Equal skills (8-12h) – basics and fun
2. e-Citizen (30h) – access to information in Internet, searching for information and using Internet banks services.
3. ECDL – the most important, a certificate from this course is required in Linthuania to receive a job at The Education Ministry. The basic course costs 200LT.
4. ECDL advance.
5. ECDL ImageMaker ( works with ADOBE, Corel software)
6. ECDL Health – software used in public health care.
7. ECDL WebStart.
8. CTP – trainers course
9. EUCIP (300h) – creating and managing projects.

While we were talking about every module we asked about everything and discussed referencing our work.

After the presentation, RITA and ALGIMANTOS took us to a restaurant called TV Tower, located at the top of a very high building. We entered the elevator and travelled with the speed of light. Our brains were shaking, something strange happened with our stomaches and everybody got a strange look on their face. But after getting to the top we were speechless. We got a 360 degrees view on Vilnius. Nobody noticed the interior of the restaurant. We were sitting by the window on a special platform and we were slowly turning around, watching every part of the city.

Everyone chose a special meal. I ordered some meat, but the most important was the sauce, made from cashew nuts. I never saw such course in Poland. Another suprise was the addons on the plate, a boiled pear and hot chocolate around – delicious!
RITA told us more about Lithuania. On our way down all of us experienced and felt unpleasant of moving very fast in a vertical direction.
RITA took us back to the Sonex building, where she swapped with Laura. Laura took us to the Polish Cultural Center. Edvaldas was waiting for us in front of the building. We were supposed to meet some people from the organization mentioned before. We talked about lots of topics about Poland and Polish people in Lithuania. A woman who was in charge of that Center told us about the local cultural activity. There are lots of shows and concerts, some Polish theater groups comes there. We had some very nice time there.

After having a cup of tea LORETA left us with a young student called Edvaldas Baltrunas, who was working with LORETA. He had to quit because he went on a student exchange to Bulgaria. He was cheerful, full of energy and a very interesting man. We spent the rest of our free time in his company.

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