LITHUANIAN QUARTERLY JOURNAL OF ARTS AND SCIENCES
Volume 38, No.2 - Summer 1992
Editor of this issue: Antanas Klimas, University of Rochester
Copyright © 1992 LITUANUS Foundation, Inc.
THE SEVENTH LITHUANIAN SYMPOSIUM ON ARTS AND SCIENCES
Stasys Bačkaitis, Ph.D.
When the First Lithuanian Symposium on Sciences and Creativity was convened in Chicago during the 1969 Thanksgiving weekend, its purpose was to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the establishment of the first institution of higher education in Vilnius, and to bring together young scientists and engineers of Lithuanian descent who are engaged in scholarly work in the United States and Canada for the purpose of exploring the possibility of organizing a World Lithuanian Science Association. Fifty-five individuals participated with scientific and technical contributions. Few of the attendees could have foreseen that this gathering would develop into one of the most important events in Lithuania's cultural and scientific life. While subsequent symposia grew in size and scope, no one could have even dreamt that the Sixth Symposium (6MKS) in 1989 would draw over 200 scholarly contributions from scientific and arts disciplines by individuals from the Western World and an additional 110 contributions by attendees from the Soviet-occupied Lithuania. It is even more astounding that certain politically oriented participants would disclose during one of the plenary sessions Lithuania's intention to declare the restoration of its independence, an event which occurred three months later on March 11,1990. One of the keynote speakers noted that Lithuania as a nation has come to a fateful crossroad in history to be or not to be. Here, the philosopher R. Ozolas, a member of the Lithuanian parliament, said that "the road to freedom is a walk on the razor's edge and to succeed, we must find for our being a perfect space for existence, we must walk and believe that we will not fail." These words foretold with great precision Lithuania's heroic fight for survival against overwhelming odds on January 13, 1991, in Vilnius during the bloody defense of its parliament and during the last murderous assault on the Medininkai border post on July 31, 1991, which was the final attempt by the Moscow-backed communist party to break the will of the Lithuanian people.
The proceedings of the 6MKS in Chicago demonstrated to many participants from Lithuania that the symposium embodies an immense unifying force between them and their over-seas brethren, who in spite of living worlds apart are alike in thought and in their quest for freedom for the Lithuanian nation. They expressed the desire to hold the Seventh Symposium in Lithuania. The Council that was responsible for organizing the 6MKS endorsed the suggestion. The Seventh Symposium on Arts and Sciences (7PLMKS) which commenced on May 23, 1991, in Vilnius and Kaunas was the realization of that suggestion.
Mr. M. Černiauskas, director of the Committee for International Relations in Vilnius, was selected to organize the Seventh Symposium. He was assisted by a staff of seven. The symposium's Advisory Council, consisting of 14 members, was chaired by Mr. R. Ozolas. The Honorary Committee was composed of Prof. A. Avižienis, and academicians J. Kubilius and J. Požela. The Program Committee was chaired by Prof. V. Domarkas chancellor of Kaunas Technological University, Prof. R. Pavilionischancellor of Vilnius university, and V. Radžvilaschairman of the Philosophy department of the Vilnius Arts Academy.
The program of the symposium, which began on May 23 and ended on May 30,1991, was composed of four principal parts:
1. The opening ceremonies followed by three plenary sessions all at the Vilnius sports palace,
2. Scientific and Arts sessions in Kaunas and Vilnius,
3. Closing ceremonies at the Kaunas Vytautas Magnus university,
4. Cultural program.
At the conclusion of the orricial program, participants from foreign countries were given the opportunity to take part in a "get acquainted" tour of Lithuania's countryside, such as the Nemunas downriver and its delta regions, Lithuania Minor and the Baltic sea shore regions, and the Žemaitija region.
The Lithuanian government, the parliament, and nearly all of the institutions of higher learning paid extraordinary attention to the symposium. Its importance was noted by membership on the Advisory Council of large numbers of government ministers, parliamentarians, and academicians. The government supported the symposium with a financial grant, and assisted in securing the needed meeting and lodging facilities. The proceedings were also widely attended by key members of the parliament and the executive branch.
The opening ceremonies took place on May 23, 1991, at the Vilnius sports palace. Here, in the immensely large basketball arena, with flags of Lithuania and participating countries swaying from roof trusses and the speakers' platform engulfed in a wide assortment of colorful flowers, convened several hundred participants and an audience of approximately three thousand. An ancient folksong, whose echoes seemed to be rolling in from ages ago into our midst, reminded the audience that the 50-year-old curtain of darkness and silence between the two separated parts of the nation had finally fallen and that no power would ever separate them again. These thoughts were echoed in short, emotionally filled, and joyous welcoming speeches by Mr. R. Ozolas and Mr. A. Kerelis (chairman of the 6MKS council) who also presented to the organizing committee the flag of the United States of America as a symbol of freedom. Upon completion of short remarks regarding the order and the schedule of the symposium, the first plenary session was called to order. The session was chaired by Mr. R. Ozolas.
The first speaker, the prime minister of the Lithuanian Republic, Mr. G. Vagnorius, discussed the difficulties that the government faces introducing a market economy while still operating within the structure of the command economy. Academician E. Vilkas made an analysis of problems encountered in the conduct of scholarly research, its future perspectives in the context of serious financial limitations and methods of managing scientific activities. President of the Lithuanian parliament, Prof. V. Landsbergis, in a typically quiet and widely encompassing speech, discussed Lithuania's problems on the road to independence and pointed out the need to escalate efforts to attain complete sovereignty. The president of the Lithuanian World Community, Prof. V. Bieliauskas, highlighted the contributions by scientists of Lithuanian origin in foreign countries to Lithuania's culture, their active participation in Lithuania's struggle for independence, and their current assistance to Lithuania to support the attainment of complete sovereignty. The first plenary session was ended by Prof. A. Gaižutis's discussion entitled "The Status of Lithuania's Culture and Freedom to Create."
The morning meeting during the second day of plenary sessions was chaired by academician J. Kubilius. Oral presentations were made by Mr. R. Ozolas on 'The Future of Democracy in Lithuania;" by Prof. R. Pavilionis on "The Vilnius University: Its Role and Value as a Cultural Institution;" by education minister D. Kuolys on "Guidelines for Educational Reforms;" and by Prof. Č. Kudaba on "Ecology Problems in Lithuania."
The third plenary session was chaired by academician E. Vilkas, replacing academician R. Rajeckas who was temporarily incapacitated by illness. Academician J. Kubilius provided a thorough review of scholarship at the institutions of higher learning in Lithuania: its past, present and future. A. Brazauskas (parliamentarian and president of Lithuania's Democratic Labor Party formerly Lithuania's Communist Party) provided his interpretation of problems Lithuania is facing in its quest for independence in view of forthcoming economic demands and political pressures by the Soviet Union. A. Matulevičius, the president of Lithuania's Manufacturers Association, reviewed the current status of Lithuania's manufacturing industry and its future in view of shortages of raw materials, lack of coordination between users and suppliers, and high taxation on manufacturing income. A very thorough discussion was given on one of the most important subjects in the life of the Lithuanian nation Reforms of Lithuania's Agriculture by Mr. R. Kužulis, director of Lithuania's Agrarian Economics Institute. This presentation concluded the three plenary sessions in Vilnius.
Scientific programs were conducted in the cities of Kaunas and Vilnius between May 27 and 29. Partitioning of the program and location of specific sessions reflected the scholarly orientation of the institutions of higher learning in either Kaunas or Vilnius. Sessions in Vilnius covered the following disciplines:
1. Architecture and Civil Engineering, chmn. Prof. E. Zavadskas,
2. Economics, Business and Management, chmn. Prof. R. Rajeckas,
3. Ecology and Biology, chmn. Dr. J. Virbickas,
4. Physics and Mathematics, chmn. Prof. J. Vaitkus,
5. Geography and Geodesic Sc., chmn. Prof. C Kudaba,
6. History and Archives, chmn. Prof. A. Bumblauskas,
7. Arts and Culture, chmn. Prof. A. Gaižutis,
8. Lithuanistics and Ethnical Culture, chmn. Prof. A. Rosinas,
9. Education, Pedagogy, Psychology, chmn. Prof. S. Razma,
10. Philosophy, Theology, Political Sciences, Sociology and Law, chmn. Prof. A. Matulionis.
Scientific sessions in Kaunas included the following disciplines:
1. Information sciences, chmn. Prof. R. Šeinauskas,
2. Engineering and Technology, chmn. Prof. K. Kriščiūnas,
3. Medicine, chmn. Prof. P. Praškevičius,
4. Earth, Water and Forest sciences, chmn. Prof. L. Kadžiulis.
The final plenary session and the closing ceremony took place in the large auditorium of the Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas. After a short welcoming speech by chancellor A. Avižienis, the poet Bernardas Brazdžionis from Los Angeles, California, urged the Lithuanian nation in a fiery soul reaching address to love its land and its people and to strive for the God-given right to exist as free men. The keynote speech was given by chancellor A. Avižienis in which he ad-dressed Lithuania's road to the western world of science and its university family. He noted that the current educational system in Lithuanian fails to prepare good scholarly and aspiring scientists and technical specialists. He maintained that those educated in Lithuania do not differ much from those educated in third word countries. One of the ways to improve this situation is to reduce the teaching load of the professors. Graduate and doctoral work must be conducted in an environment of high academic scholarship and creativity where each student is guided by several professor-advisors and not the reverse of it. Subsequently, chancellor V. Domarkas spoke on "Applied Sciences in Lithuania's Perspective," the president of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences, Prof. J. Požela, talked about the contributions of the academy to nation's progress, and chancellor R. Pavilionis raised the question on the extent to which Lithuania's scholars in humanities have contributed to the world's culture. In a very dynamic and pointed speech Prof. A. Štromas noted that Lithuania must become not only a free nation, but also a country of free people, which is much more difficult to attain. Lithuania must proceed with privatization, foster a market economy, and remove price controls, and these actions will effectively explode the entire Soviet Union. After a few short remarks in which the chairmen of the Organizing Committee and the Advisory Council thanked everyone for their contributions toward the success of the symposium, the University's chorus performed a brief musical program that served as an appropriate setting for the conclusion of this symposium.
A number of cultural events were held in parallel with the proceedings of the symposium. Of notable mention were a series of art exhibitions, a week-long festival of folkmusic, and the spring festival of poetry. Also, the participants from abroad were given the opportunity to take part during week-ends in get acquainted tours of the Lithuanian countryside. Among them was a tour of the Vilnius historical old town, a visit to the still-barricaded Lithuanian parliament building, the TV tower occupied by Soviet troops, the Vilnius cathedral and archeological excavations in its immediate vicinity, the beautifully restored defense fortress of Trakai that served also as the seat of Lithuania's power in the Middle Ages, and also an excursion tour through the historical region of Eastern Lithuania. The latter two and the post-symposium tour of the Nemunas downriver and the delta regions along with the visit to Lithuania's Baltic sea coast area, stretching from Palanga to Nida, left an unforgettable impression of the country's beauty and its historical role in stemming the "Drang nach Osten" tide by the crusaders. These tours were made infinitely more interesting and significant since they were guided by distinguished university scholars in geography, history, and archeology.
The primary reason and the heart of this world-wide meeting of Lithuanian scholars in arts and sciences was to share their scholarly accomplishments, to exchange ideas, to learn from each other, and to leave a clear document in the history of Lithuania's culture and science that was written by Lithuanians themselves rather than by the hands of other nationals. Its purpose was also to demonstrate that Lithuania's "seedlings" m other countries have not only worked and carried the torch for the restoration of freedom to Lithuania in many parts of the world, but are also capable of carrying on their scholarly and creative work in the framework of Lithuanian tradition and spirit. The evergrowing size and scope of the symposia in 1969,1973,1977,1981,1985 and in 1989 clearly attest their increasing importance. This symposium was not only a significant contribution to Lithuania's culture, arts and sciences, but also an effective reinforcement of the nation's quest for sovereignty.
The scholarly sessions took place in Kaunas and Vilnius on May 27 through 29,1991. In many instances up to 14 different presentations were carried on simultaneously. Any attempt by a single writer to provide a detailed analysis of subjects presented in each session or to evaluate them for their scientific value would represent a futile and an irresponsible effort. The Organizing Committee has promised to issue a separate publication containing abstracts of each paper presented. Those, wishing to provide a critique, will be able to render their assessments when that document is published. However, to give the reader an appreciation of the scope and extent of the presentations, a brief description of each session is provided in subsequent paragraphs.
Architectural and civil engineering sessions began with a mini-symposium dealing with concerns for the quality of education of engineering students at the Kaunas Technology University, problems that the forseeable shortage of structural materials will create in the construction industry, and the development of Lithuania's transportation system. Topics in individual sessions addressed structural materials and construction, architecture and urbanistics, civil engineering, engineering communication, and the highway network.
Biology and Ecology sessions dealt with research in the fields of biology and immunology, and ecological problems that Lithuania faces today and possible solutions.
Economy, Commerce and Business Management sessions began with a mini-symposium addressing the process of economic reforms in Lithuania and their perspectives. Topics in individual sessions discussed issues associated with privatization of Lithuania's industry and agriculture; development of commerce and free markets; creation of management structures for the economy, etc.
Sociology, Political Sciences and the Law sessions consisted of topical sessions dealing with history of philosophy, problems associated with political reforms, restructuring of agriculture and industry, and changes in the social order. Presentations in the Political Science section concentrated on means to reinforce the implementation of democracy in Lithuania; political structures; and economic liberalism. In the law section, topics dwelt on issues associated with reforms of the judicial system, Lithuania's legal position in the international arena, and rights of national minorities, civil laws, etc.
The Physics session included presentations on research conducted on microwaves and ferroelectronics, semiconductors, solid state electronics, atomic structures, radiation, optics, etc. Papers in the Mathematics session covered developments in probability theories, analytical research of differential equations, stochastic process for process control optimization, and topics in financial economics, generalized geometric structures, mathematical logic, etc.
The Geography session dealt with issues relating to Lithuania's water resources, hydrology, terrain and climatic effects. In the geology session, papers were presented on geological developments within Lithuania and the surrounding Baltic region, oil resources within the Baltic sea region, paleontological and neotectonic research in Lithuania, crystal-line substructure within Lithuania's territory, etc. The agenda of this session also included a two-day trip to geologically important regions of Lithuania's northern and northeastern regions. The geodesic session included reports on research performed by Lithuania's geodesic and cartographic service.
Sessions on Informatics and Communications covered a wide array of topics relating to numbers and computing theories, computer structures, development of logistics models, automated design, design of very large integrated circuits, communication satellites, polygraphy, recognition of biosignals, modeling of very complex communication systems, computer recognition of speech patterns, surface acoustics, management of information and control systems in the industrial process, etc.
History and Archives sessions were started with a mini-symposium in Kernavė which included a visit to recently discovered archeological excavation sites. Upon return to Vilnius, presentations touched upon certain actuals of Lithuania's history and ongoing research projects, Lithuania's archives and sources for historical research, Lithuania's liberation from those initiated by nobility in the 19th century to current grass roots movements, Baltic archeology and culture, Lithuania's Grand Duchy politics and structures.
Culture and Arts sessions covered the following general topics: Lithuanian culture: nationalism and universalism; autonomy in arts and the state; arts in music and song; Lithuanian theater and its artistic directions, creativity in art and transpositions, Lithuania's religious art; the artist and the creativity credo.
Lithuanistics and Ethnic Cultures sessions included a series of presentations dealing with Lithuanian folklore: folk art, songs and customs; research into various aspects of Lithuanian language and literature.
The session in Medical Sciences, which had the most presentations in the entire symposium, started with a mini-symposium in which a number of panelists reviewed the status of Lithuania's medical schools, including the quality of teaching.
Scientific sessions covered the following topics:
Internal Medicine and Rheumatology, Endocrinology, Cardiology and Cardiosurgery, Oncology and Radiology, Surgery, Healthy parents healthy children, Medical Ecology and Prophylactics, Neurosurgery and Neurology, Medical and Biological Sciences, Dentistry, Ophthalmology, Pharmaceuticals and Clinical Pharmacology, Psychiatry and Medical Psychology.
Sessions in Education, Pedagogy and psychology covered over a three-day period the following general subjects: Issues in middle school education, Educational Psychology, Reforms in the higher educational system, Education of the handicapped, Academic and professional preparation of teachers, Teaching of morality and ethics, Ethnicity problems, etc. This series of sessions ended with a visit to the Kaunas Pedagogical Museum.
Engineering and Technology sessions, rivaling in numbers the presentations given in the Medical Sciences session, covered the following general topics: Chemistry and Chemical Technology, Food and Food Products Technology, Inorganic Chemistry, Electronics, Electrotechnology, Energetics, Technology in Textile and Footwear and Light Machinery Indus-tries, Mechanics, Radioelectronics, Process Control, Transportation, Vibrotechnology, and a round-table discussion on issues related to effectiveness of and changes needed in the engineering education at Lithuania's technical universities.
Earth, Water and Forestry sessions dealth with Reclamation of Wetlands and Ecology, Veterinary Science and Biotechnology, and Agriculture, Agronomy and Forestry issues. The session was completed with a working visit to the Institute of Gardening and Vegetation.
The Seventh Lithuanian Symposium on Arts and Sciences was indeed a very large meeting of scientists, scholars and cultural workers. In terms of the number of presentations, it would rival the world's largest scientific conferences. Nearly all of Lithuania's institutions of higher learning participated in the program with scholarly contributions. According to the 567-page program publication, which lists biographical pro-files of all participants, presentations were made by at least 946 individuals. The 72 listed participants from foreign countries had the following distribution: USA-42, United Kingdom-3, Australia-4, Czechoslovakia-3, Canada-7, Latvia-1, Poland-2, Russia-54, Sweden-2, Germany-5. Inasmuch as the writer in his limited contacts met several unlisted participants from abroad, it is quite conceivable that the totals from foreign countries could have been larger by at least another dozen or so attendees.
As noted previously, the two largest sessions were Medicine with 167 and Engineering and Technology with 162 presentations. The two smallest were Information and Communication with 28 and Physics and Mathematics with 34 contributors. There were over 400 papers presented in Kaunas and over 500 in Vilnius. The largest number of contributions from abroad were in the Engineering and Technology sessions 12, folowed by 10 presentations in the Economy, Commerce and Business Management sessions. There were no participants from abroad in Physics/Mathematics, only one in Earth/Water/Forestry, and two in the Medical Sciences sessions. By percent distribution, contributors from abroad delivered 13 percent of presentations each in the Culture/Arts, Lithuanistics/Ethnic Cultures, and Economy/Commerce/ Business Management sessions. Least participation occurred in Physics/Mathematics 0 percent, and in Medicine little more than 0.2 percent.
The government of Lithuania and the 7PLMKS Organizing Committee put out a tremendous effort to assure the success of the Symposium. Lithuania's parliament and government saw this meeting also as a political manifestation and moral support in the nation's drive for independence, inasmuch as the Symposium took place in the immediate aftermath of the bloody assault on Lithuania's independence on January 13, 1991, and in the shadows of nightly terror carried out by the brutal OMON forces and a small but militant group of natives supporting the union with the USSR. Although not openly said, the organizers appeared to be somewhat disappointed with such a relatively small participation from foreign countries, especially the USA. While participation from the USA could have been greater in the Engineering and Technology sessions, it is difficult to understand the lack of participants in the Physics/Mathematics and the Medicine sessions. One can rationalize the absence of physicists and mathematicians. They are not very numerous and, since most of them are affiliated with universities, their financial resources might be too limited to cover the relatively large travel expenses. On the other hand, it is very difficult to find a similar rationale for the people from the medical profession. This segment, at least in the USA, is not only the largest professional group, but is also financially the most capable to engage in such activities. One could deduce that the Lithuanian physician abroad is either not research minded or believes that symposia of this nature do not deserve his time and attention. That is a huge contrast to the medical professionals in Lithuania, who put together a very large and excellent program in which the physician from abroad could have found tremendous amounts of useful information.
The symposium, as a whole, appeared to be overloaded with presentations. In some instances, some of the papers closely paralleled each other in content. Elimination of similar papers, as well as those with a weaker content, and the addition of one more day to the proceedings would certainly have added more flexibility and better accessibility to those presentations one would like to hear. Some of the presentations, especially those in plenary sessions, were excessively long and without significant scholarly substance as if written to give an accounting to management or a corporation's stock-holders. It is difficult to understand what such presentations have to do with science and creativity even if they are delivered by scientists and academicians with very impressive credentials. To assure the scholarly integrity of the future symposia, it is essential that organizers set up in advance acceptance criteria for proposed presentations and make se-lections solely on that basis.
Comparing the type of attendees in this symposium with those previously held in Chicago, one could notice the lack of younger faces, especially people of student age. Thus the question arises, why were the university students absent from these meetings? Why did so few younger faculty members and junior professionals from the industry attend the proceedings? Were they not extended the invitation to participate, or are most of them simply not interested in sciences and creative work? It also needs to be noted that presentations were given mostly by relatively seasoned faculty members and by a handful of managers from the industry. Based on such attendance, it would appear that Lithuania's industry has a shortage of engineers and scientists that would be mature enough to participate with examples of their creative work in this type of meeting. If this is true, Lithuania's industrial future may be indeed very bleak. At least in the western world, the most progress in science and technology occurs in industry, government laboratories and various public and private research institutes. Their work must fully respond to the needs dictated by the free market, which even the most astute member of the teaching profession would have considerable difficulty dealing with. This is not meant to imply that there is something wrong with the academic scientist, it is simply the fact that he or she is several layers removed from ever-changing consumer needs. I hope that the lack of young people at the symposium reflected merely inadequate publicity about the possibilities to attend the symposium and to participate in its proceedings. I would think that participation of engineers and scientists from non-academic activities in such a symposium would promote considerable cross-fertilization of ideas, especially when such meetings include participants from foreign countries. Here, the individual from industry can learn how their counterparts use science and apply technological developments in their daily work and how products are created to satisfy free market demands while also taking into account environmental, ecological, and health and safety needs. It is also worth noting that the Call for Papers to overseas countries should not depend upon the results of a one-time announcement in one local Lithuanian language newspaper and by some moderate sales effort of one travel agency to interest someone in a low-cost travel opportunity. To improve communications, the organizing committee should appoint at least one contact point in each country who would be a focus for information and also coordinate the publicity and transmittal of symposium related materials to interested parties.
I also had an opportunity to participate in a round-table discussion on the education and training of engineers at Lithuania's technical universities. Along with issues related to the engineering curriculum, many of the panelists voiced serious faculty concerns about general lack of interest by the students in engineering and sciences and the desire to learn. None of the attendees had a clear idea as to the causes of such indifference. Most faculty members appeared to be understandably concerned with their own future in view of shrinking budgets and uncertainties associated with Lithuania's political and economic instability. Looking at the problem from a distance, indifference to engineering and science education could have several causes, such as admission of students into the program with little technical talent whose main aim is either to escape military obligation or to reap the benefits of free schooling, meals and lodging; inadequate elimination process of those students who fail to satisfy academic requirements; excessive teaching load on the faculty; limited industrial experience by the teaching staff to relate to the needs of the real world; inability of the graduates to find challenging work in the industry; poor financial rewards in relationship to those paid to semiskilled labor; lack of a vision of the future at the technical universities; excessively narrow educational specialization, etc. The above seems to project the characteristics of an isolated and programmed people who were deprived of independence of thought and action. The Lithuanian people and planners of their future must break the bonds of a life that is programmed from above and be given the opportunity to implement technological advancements into goods and services in order to satisfy the needs of Lithuania itself and also those that would foster competition and trade with other free market economices. Bright, enthusiastic and visionary technical leaders are needed to inspire the entire nation in reaching for total renewal and to prepare its entry into the 21st century with appropriate technological prowess, skills, and technological proficiency. Lithuania's technical universities need to develop personalities with broad perspectives, who are not only skilled in sciences and technologies, but also understand, know how to deal with and can evaluate consequences of their actions with respect to ecology, health and safety, economy, energy consumption, availability of materials and their recyclability, transportation, and disposal of process residues without damage to the environment. In this transformation period, this is indeed an extremely difficult task.
We were received and cared for like very welcome and long awaited guests. Our Lithuanian colleagues were very eager to learn about our professional activities, how we deal with rapid advancements in technologies, what management methods we use to control our programs, how the social security system works, how people and the government relate to each other, etc.
Lithuania's towns and villages provide an appealing and a well-ordered look from a distance. Outer peripheries of larger cities are dotted with large numbers of single, private family homes under construction. Some, especially those in Lithuania's seashore region, could rival the more luxurious homes built in the west. In contrast, this view changes considerably in the older sections of towns and cities. Except for a few blocks around the main street, many buildings appear to be badly worn down due to neglect and lack of maintenace and repair. Breaks and deep erosions in walls, some buildings in partial or complete state of collapse, illfitting and distorted doors, gaps between window frames and building walls, water faucets that either do not operate or spew rust tainted water, trash in containers not removed for weeks or months, building materials at public building sites dispersed in great disorder, etc., are constant reminders of the legacy of the communist ordered way of life.
Above and beyond these problems, Lithuania's transportation infrastructure is undergoing a visibly dangerous erosion and in a few years, unless major corrective actions are instituted, it will enter a very critical stage. For example, the major auto traffic bridge in Kaunas over the river Nemunas, has lost its structural integrity. Major repairs are needed to replace failing structural steel beams. Unfortunately, Lithuania lacks the needed materials and has neither the appropriate welding technology for high grade steels nor the hard currency to acquire them for making even temporary repairs. To extend the life of the bridge, the traffic on it is now reduced from four to two lanes. As a consequence, traffic into and out of the city of Kaunas is now backed up most of the time for at least a kilometer, and more during rush hours. During my two weeks stay, I did not see a single bus that did not have either a cracked or badly stone-nicked windshield which seriously obstructs the driver's visibility. Most of the buses are of Hungarian make and replacement windshields can only be obtained by hard currency which Lithuania for all practical purposes does not have. Similar replacement problems are encountered with tires, axles, bearings, and other parts which wear out as the vehicles accumulate mileage. The railway track system, according to Lithuania's Transport minister, is dangerously worn out and needs to be reconstructed in the near future. However, this is virtually impossible at current economic conditions. In the mean time, massive transfer of Soviet heavy military equipment from former East Germany and the constant movement of supplies from the Soviet Union to the Kaliningrad region are adding immensely to the rapid deterioration of Lithuania's railroad tracks. The resolution of environmental problems also seems to be at a standstill. For example, the construction of a sewage treatment plant for the city of Kaunas appears not to have progressed much further than the talking stage. The construction of the Klaipėda plant is in limbo for lack of hard currency to pay the Polish contractor, and there is apparently some doubt about the effectiveness of the sewage treatment plant built by the city of Vilnius. It was even more amazing to have encountered total silence at the Symposium on the safety aspects of the Chernobil type atomic power plant in Ignalina, which, under circumstances of failure, could devastate more than a third of Lithuania, one half of Latvia, and a good part of Byelorussia.
The 7PLMKS left us, the participants from overseas, a deep and unforgettable impression. The long-awaited dream to hold such a symposium in Lithuania has been finally realized. After many years of waiting, we were able to share in this symposium our professional knowledge and experience with our brethren-colleagues in now independent Lithuania.
Did the 7PLMKS fulfill its intended mission? I would be reluctant to speculate, because I had neither an opportunity to discuss these questions with the organizing committee, nor to obtain the opinions of the participants in a statistically meaningful sample. Personally, I would think the answer is more yes than no. We, the Lithuanians from abroad, saw with our own eyes the problems that Lithuania's people must deal with on a daily basis, their limited opportunities to take independent action, their technical limitations to operate in a free market economy, and the type of assistance needed to improve Lithuania's technical capabilities. In turn, the participants from abroad shared with their colleagues in Lithuania a considerable amount of knowledge and experience, which we hope will be effectively used to advance their technical prowess. Although our colleagues in Lithuania have many good and admirably strong characteristics, understandably, 50 years of Soviet domination left a deep imprint of provincialism, individual insecurity, skepticism about the future, and nearly total reliance on the command system for action. I feel that participants from abroad, who in general have a much broader outlook on life and experience in western operating methods, gave the Lithuanian people a better feel on the benefits of operating in an environment free of restrictions, the problems that are encountered under such conditions, what is done differently in the west, the directions and types of art, music, literature that Lithuanians developed while abroad and the kind of research that was conducted by scholars and scientists in Lithuanian history, folklore, anthropology, economics, politics, etc. I believe this symposium provided the Lithuanian people an opportunity to learn about the accomplishments of Lithuanians in foreign lands and will now permit the integration of their contributions into the annals of Lithuania's cultural and scientific history. I trust that participation of Lithuanians from abroad, in the shadows of deadly Soviet terror and threats, provided a convincing demonstration to the people of Lithuania that they are not alone in the fight for the country's independence, and that this gathering is a confirmation of our close kinship and belief in a bright and exciting future for the Lithuanian nation.
List of References
1. Lietuvos Tarptautinių Organizacijų Komitetas. Program, Seventh Lithuanian Symposium on Arts and Sciences, Vilnius-Kaunas, 1991, printed by "Vilties" publishers, Vilnius, Lithuania.
2. Lietuvos Tarptautinių Organizacijų Komitetas. Biographical Profiles of Participants, Seventh Lithuanian Symposium on Arts and Sciences, Vilnius-Kaunas 1991, printed by "Vilties" publishers, Vilnius, Lithuania.
3. Antanas Klimas. Notes and Comments: "Symposium on Science and Creativity," Lituanus, The Lithuanian Quarterly, Vol. 15, No. 3, Pall 1969, Chicago, 111.
4. Stasys Bačkaitis. "Šeštojo Mokslo ir Kūrybos Simpoziumo Uždangai Nusileidus," Aidai-Lithuanian Cultural Journal, No. 1, 1990, Franciscan Press, Brooklyn, N.Y.