Volunteering Activities Bring International Students Closer to the Local Community
On Saturday, the 9th of April, LSMU International Relations and Study Centre (IRO), Erasmus Student Network (ESN) and International Comittee of SA (ICOSA) invited students to join a trip to the Klajūnas animal shelter. It is a house sheltering animals that operates on a voluntary basis. Thankfully, it is more than just a journey destination; it is a place where one can find a lifelong friend, a place for developing awareness and compassion, a place to learn and develop responsibility.
At 10 a.m. the bus departed heading towards Ukmergė with us students looking forward to having a good day with bags full of food, treats and toys for animals. At the shelter, our group was greeted by Ilma Germanienė, the owner of Klajūnas, and barking of exited dogs. Also, we could not contain our excitement, and it did not take long until everybody was petting the dogs and cats and giving away out treats. During this, we learned more about stories of the animals and what happened to them before they arrived in the shelter. Klajūnas is training dogs that come in, so that they can be placed with a new family, which might be challenging, as they are often scared because of how they were treated by their previous owners. Furthermore, cat people in our group were not disappointed either, because there was a room full of cats that were just waiting to play with us.
Klajūnas is not just about animal care. It is about love and respect for quadrupeds, care, the search for new homes, educational events for all ages, the fight for animal rights. The NO-KILL principle is followed here: animals are not put to sleep, they are cared for regardless of their age, appearance, or character, until their natural death. Four years of operation – and one and a half thousand saved four-legged hearts. Two of the many highlights of the day were the possibility that we could meet puppies that were just a couple days old, and that every student could go for a walk with one of the dogs. We had an amazing day while doing something good, and we realized once more that if you want to get a pet you should adopt, not shop. Big thanks to Klajūnas for letting us visit them and to ESN LSMU, ICOSA and the Erasmus+ coordinator Žydrė Vengalytė for making this trip possible.
Organizers says huge THANK YOU to those, who joined this action by bringing food for these animals. We aren’t the only ones, who are grateful, but you also have big thanks from all workers in that shelter, and of course from animals, who will have a slightly better life. The only way to experience the joy of selfless bonding and love is by visiting the nearest animal shelter today, as rightly said by Anatole France, “Until one has loved an animal, a part of one’s soul remains awakened”.
LSMU IRO with student organizations ESN LSMU and ICOSA is trying to involve international and Erasmus+ students into social and volunteering activities. Such initiatives promote social responsibility among students and facilitate their social integration into the local community while exploring the added value. Volunteering activities enable students to engage in society-beneficial activities bringing them closer to the local community they live in. Through various activities, we promote social awareness towards international students, while at the same time, combining formal and informal education with intercultural experiences.
Text: Agnė Jašauskaitė, LSMU IRO International Programme Coordinator
Text and photos: Lena Pircher, 4th year Medicine and Incoming Erasmus exchange student
at LSMU from the Medical University of Innsbruck, Austria.