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Arūnas Valinskas

Eastern Europe and Russian Studies student, member of Seimas

You completed your bachelor studies outside Lithuania: through this process, you lived in the United Kingdom as well as Japan. Did you have any thoughts of staying abroad and continuing your studies or starting your career there?  

I believe that the best way to serve my country is to shape personality, which is formed by the widest possible range of experiences, toughened by the challenges we face not only within the walls of our homes, but also beyond them. Traveling and living abroad is one of the best schools of life, which not only allows to vividly experience daily routines of people living elsewhere or the reality that shapes them, but also helps to reveal the traveler himself or herself. Sometimes the obstacles you experience are the road that you should take. 

Sometimes, looking at everything exclusively from our point of view, we may not understand or not even try to understand why the societies of other countries behave in the way they do.  Living beyond your homeland is one of the best antidotes to bias. Still, after spending a lot of time abroad, I just wanted to go home, but I could not say that the door to foreign countries is closed forever. 

You have entered the last stage of studies at IIRPS VU: in just a few months you will receive your master’s degree. What expectations led you to the Institute? 

If one learns, one lives. Of course, in order to study, you can do it on your own, but it is dangerous to think that you know everything or everything you can still learn is only in books, and there is no need to discuss with colleagues, academics or professionals. 

Being able to learn from and debate with experts in their fieldsask for their advice not only on specific knowledge, but also on learning and information selection were one of the main reasons for continuing studies.  

IIRPS VU is one of the most prestigious education institutions in Lithuania. A lot of my colleagues in the Lithuanian Parliament (Seimas) graduated from there, some of them were or still are teaching in the Institute, thus I did not have too many doubts before making decision on where to study. 

You have decided to perform voluntary service in the Lithuanian Armed Forces. Although some time has passed since then, you often mention it as a very important life experience. Why did you make this decision and how did it change you? 

There would be no war in a perfect world, but until we reach this stage, we must learn to respond appropriately to certain inevitable things. We live in a country, which, as history reveals, has rarely been able to choose which conflicts to intervene in and which to stay away from. They were often imposed on and the inability to prepare for them led towards very sad consequences. 

The threat of conflict is real today as well, so every citizen should find a personal answer to the question: “What can I do to prepare myself?”. A citizen, who has completed military service, is one of the strongest and the most universal pieces of the country’s defense, capable of participating in both passive resistance and, if necessary, defending oneself, ones’ relatives, and country with a weapon. This was probably the most important reason for choosing to serve in the army. 

This year you were elected to the Lithuanian Parliament, throughout the electoral campaign you have constantly shared the moments of it on social networks. What became the main discovery or the most important lesson for you during this campaign? 

raised my candidacy in the constituency of Tauragė, where I was not a local. Of course, this was a particular obstacle, but during the electoral campaign I had a chance to meet a lot of sincere people who, despite some prejudices, were ready to support, help, and contribute not only minimally, but a lot. 

Sometimes in politics it is easy to lose sight of the most important things and be carried away by the stream of daily routines or competition. Friendships and acquaintances made in Tauragė are one of the things that help to remember that even in this activity you can meet people, who are honestly ready to help, regardless the attitudes or distances that sometimes exist between cities, but not between people. 

Although you were elected to the Parliament only this year, before that you have also worked as an assistant to a member of the Seimas. What motivated you to get actively involved in politics and what do you see as your biggest goal and challenge in this work? 

It is impossible to avoid politics in any activity, so all that remains for us is to establish our relationship with it. I do not treat my role in the state only as a passive consumer: I see myself as an active participant. This relation was formed through my studies and long-term career, which includes my work as an advisor to a member of the Parliamentbeing a member of the Vilnius City Municipal Council, and now – a member of the Parliament. To paraphrase the Prime Minister I. Šimonytė: if you often talk with or scream on the news that you hear on TV in the evening, maybe it is worth giving a try to solve the problems that worries you.  

Without going into much detail, I would like to try to improve the quality of the political product that we will inevitably have to use. That can be a challenge, especially given the current circumstances caused by the pandemic, which require great urgencyprecision, and unpleasant compromises. 

You combine work, studies and family commitments, some time ago you used to grow alpacas. What are your main ways to relax? 

Alpacas are still a part of my life. It takes little effort to come up with a way to break away from reality, because life is enough of distraction itself. Together with my partner Viktorija and daughter Sofija we have a tradition to visit her grandparents and the alpacas who live with them. So, there is really no need to have a big imagination in t