VMU Promotes Individuality and Self-Expression
Vytautas Magnus University provides all the necessary conditions for students’ self-realization and leisure. It encourages student initiatives to create, nurture, start new and continue previous cultural, social and sports activities.
Currently there are a few dozens of various clubs functioning at VMU, bringing together lovers of sports, nature, history, philosophy, politics, literature, etc. In April of 2010, another club filled their ranks – the Pablo Neruda Spanish Language and Culture Club. The club, which was founded by the initiative of the students and lecturers at the VMU Centre of Centre of Foreign Languages, seeks to popularize Spanish language and culture, introduce people to the history, literature, culture and traditions of Spanish-speaking countries and nations.
Collegium Artes Liberales (CAL) is also relaunching its activities. Spreading the humanitarian culture of VMU, seeking interdisciplinary relations, building an academic space for exchanging ideas and opinions, CAL promises many interesting discussions and other significant events.
The Cradle of Higher Music Education Retains Its Place
Also emphasising the expression of the principles of liberal arts and the educational philosophy upheld by VMU is the Kaunas Faculty of the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre, which was integrated into Vytautas Magnus University this year – the VMU Music Academy has been established, breathing a lot of life into Kaunas’ traditions of music education, nurturing musical talents who can spread the fame of Kaunas and Lithuania all around the world.
“Integrating into the VMU study system, we think that the studies will become more attractive, more opportunities will arise. Also, we will be able to offer musical subjects to other students of the university as well. As the goal of retaining the cradle of higher music education in Kaunas is achieved, I hope that it will all not just survive but grow together with the expanding cultural identity of the city”, the Dean of the Music Academy Assoc. Prof. Dr. Saulius Gerulis said.
University Is Enjoying International Fame
The VMU Arts Centre is also actively seeking to make the Lithuanian cultural life more interesting and colourful: the student folklore ensemble “Linago” (representing performing arts), folkdance ensemble “Žilvitis”, girls’ chamber choir and other collectives brought fame to VMU by participating in contests and festivals in Scandinavian and Baltic countries, Western Europe, the USA, Canada. In 2010, the name of VMU rang out thanks to quite a few of university’s collectives. At the 11th Moscow International Children’s and Youth Choir Festival “Moscow Sounds”, held on 27 April – 2 May, the VMU girls’ chamber choir took the first place. 21 choirs participated in the contest, including mixed, girls’ and youth choirs from Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Russia and Serbia. In 2010 the Arts Centre organized folklore festival “O Kieno Žali Sodai”, while the most hard-working volunteers of the centre won an audition for the project “Nice to Meet You!” in Romania and participated in the cultural campaign “Einam Kaunas 2010”.
At the VMU Sports Centre – Attention to Individual Needs
The university’s Sports Centre supplies VMU community with optimum conditions for physical training, maintaining and improving one’s health and work efficiency, representing the university at national and international events. “The VMU Sports Centre offers interesting study programmes, gives opportunities for self-expression and communication. According to individual needs, the centre collaborates with and mediates for other institutions – for a lower fee, possibilities can be provided for playing even those sports for which the VMU facilities do not have the necessary conditions, for instance, swimming or skating”, the Director of the VMU Sports Centre Liucija Kalvaitienė said. The director claims that this centre is the first in Lithuania to have started using a system in which Physical Education is an optional subject. “The system proved itself and is already applied at other schools of higher education as well”, Kalvaitienė said.
University students take part in events organized by the Lithuanian Students Sports Association and in tournaments and championships of various sports (judo, track and field athletics, orienteering, shooting, fencing, tennis, table tennis). Basketball and football tournaments are held at VMU, where teams compete for the Rector’s Cup. The university also hosts the Olympic festival and the festival Sports for Everyone. There are plenty of other events too, allowing fans of various sports to compete or talk with each other and spend spare time in an active and meaningful way.
Impressive Victories of the VMU Basketball Team
“When the Lithuanian Students’ Basketball League (LSBL) was established in 1998, interest in student basketball increased substantially, as well as requirements for the universities’ basketball teams and the sports skills of the players. Vytautas Magnus University did not remain in the sidelines of these changes. That was the time when the university’s basketball teams started to be taken more seriously, while ensuring a proper representation of the university in the LSBL and other competitions became an objective”, the coach and the head of the VMU men’s basketball team, Vladas Juknevičius, said.
In the words of Juknevičius, “the university paying more attention to the most popular sports among the students – basketball – did not go to waste. Vytautas Magnus University’s men’s basketball team today is one of the most distinguished student basketball teams in Lithuania and Europe”. On April 15, in the finals of the Lithuanian Students’ Basketball League, VMU players became the LSBL champions for the fifth time in a row and ninth in history. Vytautas Magnus University’s players won the match against Kaunas University of Technology 86:74. Meanwhile, in the finals of the LSBL first women’s division, the VMU team settled for the honourable second place after a close battle.
VMU men’s basketball team has won the LSBL championship in 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011, and came in second twice (in 2003 and 2006). The university’s team is four-time gold medalist of the European Universities Basketball Championship. They have won 3 gold (2006, 2008, 2010), 1 silver (2007) and 3 bronze medals (2003, 2004, 2009) in the SELL Student Games, a competition of Baltic universities.
The Lithuanian Students Sports Association titled the basketball team of VMU the best students sports team of 2010. Žygimantas Janavičius and Marina Solopova were named the best student basketball players.
Tremendous Support for Student Initiatives
Vytautas Magnus University encourages and backs student initiatives. In the near future, the university will hold competitions and provide financial aid in support of student projects.
In 2010, three centres of arts were established by the students: the Reading Room Café of the Arts Centre, the Art Kitchen and the Theatre Club. The efforts of the persistent students working at the Arts Centre gave birth to a cosy site at the VMU main building and the VMU academic courtyard, which held on to the water theme in its interiors (a fountain used to function here). The water was substituted with rays of light, symbolizing the educational mission of the courtyard, while bathtubs were inventively used instead of seats, beckoning to come and bathe in the waters of art.
In 2009, the idea to establish VMU Radio was born, and it made its first sounds in February of 2010, saying “VMU Radio is here with you” to its listeners. The participants of the project create radio shows themselves, talk and discuss issues relevant to university students, make playlists and socialize.
The first-ever specialized Philosophy Reading Room in Kaunas was opened at Vytautas Magnus University in 2010, thanks to the efforts of the students. Its shelves offered the visitors more than 3000 books on philosophy. About 300 were donated during the campaign 100×100, a few hundreds more were bought using collected funds.
A section of the Erasmus Student Network (ESN) was established at Vytautas Magnus University in 2009 (ESN VMU). ESN is one of the largest international non-profit student organizations in Europe, functioning in 34 countries. It supports student mobility and assists the incoming students in their integration into the new environment, while the local students have an opportunity to get acquainted with their colleagues from different cultures.
The ESN VMU section unites more than 50 VMU students who are actively involved in the organization’s work: they help the incoming foreign students integrate into local environment (with the mentor’s programme), organize various cultural (International Dinner), educational (Language Tandem) and social (Social Erasmus) events. They are also eagerly participating in national and international events where they represent Vytautas Magnus University.
VMU SRC: Representing the Students’ Interests
For sixteen years already, Vytautas Magnus University students are represented and taken care of by the VMU Students’ Representative Council. The Council continues working on the already traditional tasks – in the areas of academic-social affairs, culture, public relations, finances, projects and international relations, human resources – and takes on new challenges as well. In 2010, the VMU SRC began publishing student newspaper Studis, brought together a student rowing team, which competed with teams of other Lithuanian universities in the Neris’ Regatta. Traditionally, VMU SRC prepares the freshmen summer camp Camp For Well-Balanced Freshmen (Subalansuoto Fuxo Stovykla), event of nominations for the lecturers V2. Marking the International Students’ Day, the management of SRC elects a student-rector and affirms his team, allowing them to hold the reins of the university for one day.
In 2010, the VMU Students’ Representative Council was named the best non-governmental youth organization in Kaunas and awarded for the encouragement of voluntary blood donations.
VMU Is Inseparable Part of City’s Cultural Life
The students of Vytautas Magnus University gladly get involved in the projects outside of VMU. University’s faculties and offices have several hundreds of student volunteers, who enthusiastically lend a hand in the events organized by VMU and its partners (Kaunas International Film Festival, Kaunas Dance Theatre Aura, Vilnius International Film Festival Kino Pavasaris, etc.). In the Christmas season, when the Kaunas City Municipality provided universities with an opportunity to decorate the Christmas trees in city squares, VMU student’s idea was used to decorate the tree in Vienybės square with toys symbolising the faculties of VMU.
VMU is the location of significant cultural events and festivals every year; cultural, educational and public activities of various kinds are carried out here, projects and exhibitions unmasking cultural and historical context of art are held, the university is also an attraction for lovers of non-commercial cinema.
Entertainment and Culture: For the University and the City
For the academic community and the general public, VMU prepares the annual festival VMU Jazz Connections, which boasts an ambitious and effective programme. Previously considered “young”, “small” and “chamber”, it stormed the city for the third time in 2010 with large crowds of jazz lovers coming to concerts – those who wanted to hear the music could barely fit in various locations of Kaunas, which were swinging with jazz music. “The festival has grown a lot, the events were attended by people of various ages, who, seeking to listen to music they like, made themselves “a home” out of various places at the Kaunas State Drama Theatre and the Jazz Palepe”, Julijus Grickevičius, the head of the VMU Jazz Connections, said remembering the last year’s festival.
In 2010, marking the International Day of Museums, for the first time ever VMU was included into the programme of the festival Kaunas Night of Museums. The doors of the museums at Vytautas Magnus University were open to the attending public of the event.
VMU Kaunas Botanical Garden organizes traditional events to the community of the university and the city. The New Year’s celebration, holidays of Winter, Mardi Gras and Saint Jonas’ Festival, fairs, exhibitions, academic festivities of VMU, schoolchildren’s summer camps, etc. are all offered here.
Contributing to the internationality, cultural discovery, tolerance and openness of the university, the VMU Centre of Foreign Languages pays exceptional attention to the popularisation of language learning and nurturing of multilingualism. The event held annually on the Day of European Languages at the university grew into a week-long series of events including public lectures, the election of multilingual student at VMU, book presentations, colourful and inventive shows by the students.