New project «Peoples' bridge between the U.S. and Latvia in culture and education»

In 1990, Latvians living in the U.S. were as overcome with the thrill of impending independence as people in Latvia. They believed they could become part of Latvia’s transition to democracy by sharing their professional and educational experience gained in the U.S. The project «Peoples’ bridge between the U.S. and Latvia in culture and education» will shed light on American-Latvian investment in culture, education, and science by supporting study exchange programs, establishing scholarships, sharing experiences, and contributing to methodological innovations. The project is supported by the U.S. Embassy in Latvia and United States Government Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund. The project leader - Inta Mieriņa, a leading researcher at the University of Latvia, and a member of the Latvian Oral History Association “Life Story”. The project implementation period: June - December 2022.


The project will explore and popularize the contribution of the U.S. diaspora by using the sources of the National Oral History Archive (NOHA) which contain stories of their personal growth in the U.S. and consequent cooperation and support for Latvian society. The development of oral history research is on its own a bright example of how American Latvians have promoted the process of democratization through the strengthening of humanities and social sciences that had been heavily politicized under Soviet rule. NOHA sources offer unique testimony to the individual ties that continue to form a bridge between Latvia and the U.S., and will be used to create 8 digital audio-visual presentations. Each presentation will be dedicated to a specific example of American Latvian activities: support for the education of Latvian doctors; initiative in the establishment of the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia; educational work of the museum and research center «Latvians Abroad»; family summer camps 3x3.

In addition, two interactive seminars and 8 lectures in regional areas of Latvia will provide opportunities for the discussion of the role of American Latvians and the U.S. state programs in supporting the democratization processes in Latvia and will introduce former Fulbright Scholars and their contributions to the development of academic research in Latvia. At the end of the project, a press conference will be organized, which will summarize the findings of seminars and lectures.

Among the project executors are five Fulbright scholarship recipients: Dr. Inta Mieriņa (University of Latvia), Dr. Mara Lazda (Bronx Community College, City University of New York, USA), Dr. Toms Rostoks (Latvian National Defense Academy), Dr. Ieva Zake (Millersville University, USA), Dr. Ieva Puzo (Riga Stradins University). They represent a range of disciplines (history, international relations, migration research, education, sociology and anthropology), thus offering a multifaceted view of the US contribution to Latvia’s development. The project partners include the Latvian Association of Oral History Researchers «Life Story», University of Latvia Centre for Diaspora and Migration Research, Institute of Philosophy and Sociology at the University of Latvia, Museum and Research center «Latvians Abroad», Museum of the Occupation of Latvia, Latvian Association of Anthropologists, World Federation of Free Latvians, Ambassador-at-Large for the Diaspora at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Elita Gavele. The links established within the project between academic and non-academic, Latvian and the U.S. partners will create a basis for further cooperation.