The first InterNations Community visits took me to Eastern Europe last January– or, to be more precise, to Chisinau (Moldova) and Vilnius (Lithuania), where we’ve got two of our smaller Local Communities. The one in Vilnius has already grown to 1,600 members by now while there are only 600 InterNations members in Moldova’s capital so far.
Barely one week later after my visit to Moldova, I was on the road again, on my way to Lithuania.
Again, I was accompanied by several other team members, since we were still on the lookout for talented software engineers and had scheduled a number of interviews in Vilnius. I’d actually been there before, to attend one of our early InterNations Events back in 2011, and I was excited to see the city once more.
However, I wasn’t quite prepared for the Baltic weather during a cold front in the middle of January: When we arrived, outdoor temperatures were nearly minus 20°C! Fortunately, the sun was shining, providing us with at least a little warmth – though our software developer from Brazil begged to disagree, poor guy.
However, the city was very pretty to look at under the winter sun, the roofs covered with a light dusting of snow. The historic center of Vilnius is a UNESCO World Heritage site for good reason – it unites an impressive array of Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, and neoclassical architecture.
Our interviews with the IT company, however, took place in an ultra-modern building, a tall glass structure full of offices, which dominates the city’s skyline and gave us a splendid view of the Lithuanian capital. Again, we had some interesting talks with several software developers, who were eager to work on such an exciting project as InterNations.
We were staying at the Comfort Hotel in Vilnius, and it did live up to its name: it was really comfy indeed. Moreover, it was only a short walk from the city center, so, with the freezing temperatures, we didn’t have to go far in search of a nice restaurant.
We had dinner close to the cathedral on Plines Street – a majestic building, which also happens to be the oldest church in Lithuania.
At the restaurant, we were rather thankful for the hot and rich food. A steaming dish like zeppelini – Lithuanian dumplings with pork, bacon, and sour cream – is a good choice when it’s chilly outside!
On the following day, we invited the IT developers to our InterNations Event at the Holiday Inn. The hotel manager, Geerd from Belgium, is also an InterNations member and had kindly agreed to hosting our get-together there.
Of course, it was our Ambassador Team in Vilnius that organized the event: Anthony from France has spent plenty of time abroad, on various trips to Bangladesh, Germany, Indonesia, Norway, and Thailand. He moved to Lithuania over six years ago, for personal reasons, and is working in the local garment industry. Shaan was born in India, raised in the US, and now divides his time between Vilnius and London.
I was pretty impressed by their international credentials, and I could also thank our Ambassadors in person for their success at growing the InterNations Community and creating such a relaxed, familial atmosphere at their events. That night, circa 70 members from 20 different countries attended, which made for a bit of a contrast with our huge and kind of busy parties in Munich.
Quite a few of the guests are on the NATO staff or work for various EU organizations, as I found out while circulating and chatting. Meanwhile, our IT team seized the chance to gather some feedback on our online platform directly from our members, which resulted in a fruitful exchange of comments and ideas.
But we weren’t only “all work and no play”! When the official part of the event was winding down, some friendly Vilnius members took us to Pabo Latino, a Latin bar, where we danced the night away to some hot rhythms that defied the icy weather.
All in all, we liked the city a lot. And who knows? Perhaps we’ll soon have a reason to come to Vilnius more often…
by Malte Zeeck, InterNations Founder