Roman Zorska on Lithuanian Immigration

The following clip relates to the Ohio Department of Education curriculum for Social Studies education through:

  • Modern World History Content Statement #19 – Treaties and agreements at the end of World War II changed national boundaries and created multinational organizations.
  • Modern World History Content Statement #23 – The breakup of the Soviet Union ended the Cold War and created challenges for its former allies, the former Soviet republics, Europe, the United States and the non-aligned world.
  • World Geography Content Statement #8 – Physical, cultural, economic, and political factors contribute to human migrations (e.g. drought, religious conflicts, job opportunities, immigration laws)

 

Abstract:

Roman Zorska is a Lithuanian immigrant. He arrived in Cleveland in 1949 and now serves as a delegate of the Lithuanian Cultural Garden. In this clip he recounts the history of Lithuanian immigration to the United States. He describes three separate waves of immigrants; the first around the turn of the 20th century, the second after World War II, and the third after the Lithuanian independence movement in the early 1990s. He describes each wave as being different from each other in terms of the type of person immigrating and their motivations. The first wave consisted of mostly farmers seeking opportunity, the second wave was more educated civil servants fleeing Soviet oppression, and the third were younger individuals seeking economic opportunities. He also touches on the importance of having a presence in the Cleveland Cultural Gardens because the people immigrating were Lithuanians without a country to call their own.

Potential Classroom Applications:

This story clip illustrates some of the various reasons why an individual would choose, or be forced, to leave their native country and hints at the tumultuous history of Eastern Europe throughout the entire 20th century. The fact that many of Lithuanian immigrants came to the United States at a time when they had a culture but no country illustrates the changing nature of world geography and the arbitrary shifting of borders depending on who is in control.

See this clip used in a model lesson plan on socialstudies.clevelandhistory.org.

Follow this link for the full interview: Roman Zorska Interview, 30 November 2009

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