Report of focus group research for the project WISE
Two focus group researches were carried out in Lithuania: 1) Foreigners living in Lithuania - 6 persons, 2) Lithuanian locals living in peripheral area – 12 persons.
1. FOREIGNERS (Majority of respondents were Russians – 5 people, some of them live in Lithuania from their childhood. One person was Pole).
- How well (how soon) did you understand local culture? Half of respondents answered that it wasn’t very difficult because they live in Lithuania for quite long time. They have many Lithuanian friends and know Lithuanian language. So it seems to them that they understand local culture quite well (and it wasn’t difficult for them).
Another part of the respondents answered that it was quite difficult to understand local culture because traditions and manners are different from their country. Especially it’s difficult when you don’t know Lithuanian language.
- How well (how soon) did you understand social life?
Those respondents which have Lithuanian families answered that they had and still have some problems related with genetic family of husband or wife. Older people are quite strong regarding traditions and customs. So it took long time to understand it.
Regarding relations with friends and colleagues respondents didn’t have many problems. Knowledge of Lithuanian language helped them much.
- How well (how soon) did you adapted into society? Majority of respondents answered that they feel fully adapted into Lithuanian society. They work in Lithuanian organizations, have Lithuanian friends and some of them have Lithuanian families. Those who arrived to Lithuania recently feel a little bit abandoned and hope to learn Lithuanian language soon. They say that it is essential to speak Lithuanian if you want to find friends and to get a better job.
- Do you present your own culture in Lithuania? Minority of respondents said that they take part in Russian ethnical union. It means that they represent their own culture as members of this union – take part in different festivals, etc. Other respondents answered that they represent their culture only in close circle of their families – make traditional dishes, celebrate traditional holidays.
- Do you think that local people are interested into knowing other cultures and your culture? Majority of respondents answered that Lithuanians are not very eager to know about different cultures. Respondents think that they are quite familiar with Russian culture because of long period in Soviet Union. So majority of them don’t seek to know about it more.
- Which specific aspects of your culture do you think local people want to know the most? Almost all respondents had difficulties answering this question. Some of them thought that it could be national food and traditions.
- What are the most suitable channels to be introducing other cultures for locals? Most respondents said that it could be the activity of Ethnical unions – for example Russian and others. They can make big festivals introducing national art, national holidays and food. It could be the easiest way to introduce other cultures for locals.
- Do you think that foreigners in Lithuania are educated about local culture? All respondents answered that there are no means for foreigners to be educated about local culture in Lithuania. If person is really interested there is only one way – personal experience and contacts with local people.
2. LITHUANIANS – LOCAL PEOPLE FROM PERIPHERAL AREA. 12 people have participated in this focus group.
- What do you know about foreigners living in Lithuania? Majority of the respondents answered that they know quite many foreigners living in Lithuania especially Russians and most of them know Lithuanian language and are full members of society. Some of respondents remember times when Russians pretended that they don’t know Lithuanian language and wanted to talk only in Russian. But now these cases are very rare.
- Are you familiar with culture of those foreigners? - Would you like to know more? Most of respondents are confident in their knowledge about different cultures especially these cultures which are Lithuanian neighbours –Russian, Poland and Baltic countries. All respondents would like to know more about more exotic cultures – American, English, French, Chinese or for example Icelandic culture.
- Do you think that foreigners are ’educated’ about local – Lithuanian – culture? All respondents stated that those foreigners who live in Lithuania for a long time know very much about local culture. Of course they are always different – in their manners, behaviour and traditions. But usually they understand Lithuanian traditions too and get adapted to them.
Those foreigners who stay in Lithuania for a short time are not educated at all. They only work here and stay in close connections only with their countrymen.
- Do you think that Lithuanians would like to know more about foreign cultures? Most of respondents think that Lithuanians are interested in more exotic cultures which aren’t neighbours of Lithuania. They want to know more about Western European cultures or American traditions.
- Which way of ’learning’ about other culture is most attractive /convenient for you?
’Internet’ is most frequent answer especially between younger respondents. They would like to learn foreign language in internet courses, to read about different customs and traditions.
Older people said that it is difficult to know other cultures not living in other country. Sometimes they watch TV, sometimes read articles in magazines but it’s not enough. If they would know English language better it would be easier to communicate with foreigners and therefore to know more about their culture.
- Do you think that foreigners in Lithuania should know more about local culture and social traditions? (Even before they come to Lithuania) All respondents said that it would be easier for foreigners to adapt in Lithuania if they would know more about local culture and social traditions. But otherwise all respondents understand that it is too difficult to get familiar with Lithuania not living in it.
Persona Optima Iceland EFH. This company as an organization is a new in international project arena. This project is perfect opportunity to share our findings with partners and related units of the project; we are establishing relationships with partners from other countries, expanding our knowledge and sharing our own findings with others. Read more...