Category Archives: International

Elena’s story

Lithuania – a country of blue lakes, green fields, and impassable forests. For long centuries these poet chanted and its rulers praised forests were giving shelter and defending its people from grievous dangers. In a small 14th century town called Birstonas, now known as the royal resort for its spa centres, we meet the protagonist of our story – Elena Gecioniene.


Elena, her husband, and son

“At the time I was living in a village located nearby – on the other side of the river. My mother Veronika and father Mykolas were farmers. Besides me, there were six other children in the family. Three older sisters, two younger sisters and a younger brother, so I was in the middle.” – begins to tell her story Elena and takes us to the 50s Lithuania – one of the most painful periods of the country.

To set the background to the story, in 1940 Lithuania was occupied by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics ruled by Joseph Stalin. In 1941 the armed forces of Nazi Germany stepped in and took the land to itself. In 1944 soldiers of the red army drove Germans out and once again, Lithuania fell under the repression of the Soviet Union. The aim of Russians was to Russify the citizens and eventually make it a part of the huge empire. It became compulsory to learn Russian language and to praise the great leader Stalin. All of the Lithuanian symbols, including the flag, got banned, the Lithuanian history and their heroes became forbidden to speak about as well. Anyone, who would proudly show off their Lithuanian patriotism would be called a public enemy and be sorely punished, with words of all – banished to Siberia or one of the gulag camps. To find out about such enemies, the government established The People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs also known as NKVD.

“When the Russians came, my father became a partisan.” – proudly declares Elena. “One day I and my siblings came back from school and saw father packing a bag. Later, we all sat at the table for the dinner, it was the moment when father announced about leaving to the forests, to fight for the freedom of our  homeland.” Everyone at that table was in shock, describes the woman, no one had any clue about this decision of the head of their family. “He told us to tell everyone that he left the family and we don’t know where to find him. It was for our own safety.” Everyone cried themselves to sleep that night. Going to fight for resistance was almost the same as a death sentence. “When we woke up next morning, the father was gone. It was one of the saddest moments of my life.” – she adds.



Elena and her children in 1979


From that moment none of the kids had a chance to see or speak to their beloved father ever again. Only on some occasions the mother would go out somewhere to those dark forests always bringing a basket filled with the best food they could have as well as the necessities such as warm clothes. As much as children would beg the mother, she would never give a positive answer to the question whether they can meet their father.

Weeks and months passed, life with only their mother was getting harder and harder, so “my two oldest sisters, who had just graduated from the school, decided not to seek to get a higher education and start to work to help support the family. Then the winter came, we had a fire in our barn, till this day no-one knows what caused the fire.” – tells Elena describing the hard times. Then the spring came, as the heavy winter snow was melting, the grass was getting green again and flowers were starting to bloom. By the end of March, it started to seem that the better days are finally coming. However, that was not the case at all.

“One afternoon I and all of my siblings were all at home. We were cleaning the house when my mother ran inside and slammed the door. All of her clothes were dirty and she was crying as if she has just seen something indescribably terrible. After a moment she invited my oldest sisters – Monika and Dana – and told something to them. They looked shocked. Then the rest of us were told to grab all that was precious to us and as much food as we could.” After approximately an hour all of them left the house and ran into our cache. Before the Russians even marched into the country, Mykolas Gecionis build a small bunker under a hill located at the very end of their backyard. As our protagonist describes it was just a small door outside covered with moss, so it was almost invisible. Inside it was like in a basement – cold, damp and dark. There was some conserved food left there in case of emergency, so they were not starving. “My mother told us by no means not to leave the hiding-place. She said that we were in a danger. After a couple of hours when she got calmer, she told everyone what happened. It was the worst that we could hear…”

Apparently, the mother went to visit the father, however, she had no chance to really talk to him. On the way to their meeting spot, she heard obtuse sighs. As she found where they were coming from, she found, the father. He was laying in a pit. He was shot. He was not really conscious anymore. Veronika Gecioniene witnessed her husband to take his last breath that time. She did not know what actually happened, but she decided that it will be safer to take her kids out of the house for some time in case the NKVD agents ar their collaborants would show up.



Ekena (right) and her family on a holiday


“I think that we spent around two days in that place hiding, although I can not be too sure how long has it passed because it looked like an eternity for me as a child. All I had was my family, my plush doll and a tragedy on my mind.” – tells Elena. “After that time mother left and came back in 20 minutes. She said that it was safe to go out now. We went back home and saw more horror. Everything was turned into a huge mess. Everything from drawers and wardrobes was toppled down. There were shatters from dishes and other ceramics as well as a kitchen window on the floor. Each of us packed some clothes and some of our belongings and went to the yard. I took a long look at the house. Then we went to the bus stop and left the village.”

The family went to stay with the sister of their mothers until they would get back on their feet. They never saw their home again. It was too dangerous to come back at the time in case they would be really related to the ‘crimes’ of their father. They gained their land back after the country regained independence in the 90s, but by that time it was just a field.

“We left our lives fleeting like some criminals when actually we were not. Our father was a hero and even though the resistance forces were captured eventually, they gave its hope that one day we will beat the Soviets and be free again.”- says Elena. “And yes, losing my father was the biggest tragedy, however, he did what he had to do – he fought for all of us – and I will be forever thankful for that.”



Elena and her husband (right) with her sister and brother-in-law (left)



Finance in post-Brexit: battle has already started

“We’re seeing a lot of uncertainty ahead of us,” Charles-Edouard Bouée, the chief  executive of Europe’s largest management consultancy Roland Berger said to The Times, “In this case I don’t think we have seen such a disentanglement in the last 50 years anywhere in the world.”

The impact of Brexit on financial services industry in the UK is significant. Many believe as a result, Britain will be cut off from the European market. One of Germany’s top banking regulators warned that London could lose its status as “Gateway to Europe”.

With possible lose of financial passporting rights, which means losing the ability to provide services across the EU from a base in London, banks are already considering their options in the future.

Lloyds Bank reportedly chose Berlin as the location for its European hub after the UK leaves the EU, meanwhile, Barclays also operated to move its EU headquarters to Dublin. In post-Brexit, UK has already suffered from losing job chances in those transnational corporations.


Canary Wharf, the matrix of London’s global banking center taken by Andrew Testa.

The result of French election seems to make it even harder for Britain to negotiate with EU. Macron’s win tights EU together again and leaves the UK isolationism. The youngest president in French history, who describes Brexit as “a serious mistake”, has been called an EU fanatic on Twitter.

In fact, the former economy minister has already urged overseas banks to quit London for Paris after Brexit for a long time.

Though a new research by Colliers International shows that it will be “too impractical” for companies to leave London at high risk of losing high skilled graduates, uncertainty of economy in this former EU financial center may leave them no choice.

Graduate recruitment to fall under Brexit

Several job sectors are expected to be negatively affected by Brexit, with concerns over implications on the graduate labour market. Graduate recruitment has been steadily decreasing since 2016.

The certainty of landing a job is now a serious concern for a growing number of UK and EU nationals just entering the job market.

Data from Prospects reveals that the number of 21-year-olds entering the job market is projected to fall from 845,000 in 2015 to 742,000 in 2023 and is not expected to return to the optimum until 2028.

While Brexit has already affected the number of EU-born applicants, with a seven per cent fall since Brexit, it is also expected to have implications for graduate employment. This year’s university graduates will enter a job market, which is lacking stability as well as available vacancies.

A report by The Recruitment and Employment Confederation has revealed that there is a shortage of available candidates to fill available vacancies even before Brexit has hit the economy. Although that is a general concern, certain sectors will feel the shortage more severely and are expected to either tighten budgets or reduce staff.

The current state of the UK job market might have serious consequences for graduate employment and the overall availability of certain sectors.

Job sectors, which are likely to be negatively affected by Brexit in terms of work force, are accountancy, banking and finance, law, retail and media, communications and advertising and PR. Finding a job will arguably be harder for graduates, which will go into employment after graduating.


Infographic: Asya Gadzheva

The media sector will experience the economic impact of Brexit, whereby less funding will go into the sector. Less money would inevitably lead to less hired employees.

For journalism and other media students, this will mean a shortage of available vacancies and a reluctance to hire fresh talent, which could prove damaging both for the creative input of the industry and the motivation of media graduates to enter into it.

Donald Trump has never posted fake news online … or maybe he has

General election is a very important topic when affecting a country. Journalists have their say, users share their opinions online, but also celebrities decide to stand alongside their favorite candidate.


If you think a politician should be always trustworthy, reliable and most of all … loyal, well, you’re definitely not talking about Donald Trump.

Trump has always been very famous and active on social networks for his untruthful facts, exaggerations and incredible falsehoods.

Follow us on this round up of the most fake news the most hated men on the planet had happened to create for him to become the current President of the United States.


  1. The New York Times’ publisher and executive editor sent a letter to the paper’s subscribers promising to “rededicate ourselves to the fundamental mission of Times ” But the letter did not apologize to its readers, nor did it suggest its coverage of Trump was bad.

2. “The last [campaign rally] ended at 1 o’clock in the morning in Michigan. And we had 31,000 people, 17,000 or 18,000 inside and the rest outside.”
Police told Breitbart News that they estimated 6,000 people attended Trump’s final campaign rally at the DeVos center in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

3. “We ended up close to 15 points [of the African American vote, as you know.” (November 20 during an interview with the New York Times)
Donald Trump received approximately 8 percent of the black vote, according to polling data. Clinton won approximately 88 percent of the black vote.

4. Screen Shot 2017-05-12 at 1.57.59 PM

Trump’s tweet is part of his argument that Russia’s role in election hacking remains unknown, but it’s inaccurate on two counts.
First, CrowdStrike, the cybersecurity firm that initially connected the Democratic National Committee hack to the Russian government, did catch the hackers in the act.

Dear Donald Trump, let’s fight spreading fake news together. What do you think?

Post-Brexit recruitment: should I stay or should I go?

There is a sharp decline in interest of EU graduates looking for jobs in the UK after referendum: the number falls by 18% according to Linkedln data.

Oversea graduates are concerned about Brexit’s effect on themselves. They believe they will enter a job market that’s more challenging than they might have expected in the UK. As a result,  a research from Korn Ferry Hay Group shows that almost a quarter of them have changed their career plan.

Three quarters of respondents in a poll from WikiJob believe their job prospects have become worse and 34% of EU participants are now less likely to look for work in the UK.


Infographic: WikiJob


Infographic: WikiJob

The biggest problem for those young graduates is uncertainty. Ben, who is studying at the University of Southampton, said: “I don’t know what my job’s going to be like over the next ten years because the people who are leading Brexit have no idea.”

Brexit does not only affect young graduates but also worries British companies themselves.

According to a report from Department for Education, more than half of graduates and over 70% postgraduates go for high skilled employment in the UK. Due to the Brexit fear and possible lack of trained EU graduates, UK’s shortage in some high skilled talent can really affect local market.


Infographic: Asya Gadzheva

Facing a skills gap emerging, especially for those industries with high requirement on employees’ intelligence, “They will need to foster a culture of entrepreneurialism and technological innovation and open their doors to a generation of young and tech-savvy professionals,” says Noeleen Cowley, Banking Partner at KPMG.

It is predictable that the lose of brainpower due to Brexit can slow down development in a wide range of disciplines.

Bye Bye Bye? The House votes to repeal and replace Obamacare

On Thursday, House Republicans voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace its key parts. After having fought for this for months, the bill now will go to the Senate and Trump feels confident about it.

The bill passed with a vote of 217-213, with all 192 Democrats voting to oppose it and 20 Republicans joining them. The changes made by the GOP Proposal would alter some major factors that Obamacare had established.


Essential health benefits such as emergency room visits and women’s health services would not be a given, instead it would up to single states to choose what benefits to keep or whether to opt out of all of them.

Older people would have to pay up to five times more than younger consumers for fewer benefits. The new American Health Care Act repeals the Employer Mandate, which required all businesses with more than 50 employees to offer health insurance.

Pre-existing conditions have been a big debate also thanks to Jimmy Kimmel’s speech about his newborn’s heart surgery. With Obama backing him up, but also with conservatives criticizing his approach and ideas.

Donald Trump has reassured that insurance for people with illnesses such as cancer or diabetes will be reduced. Earlier this week the President stated that this new healthcare plan “will be every bit as good on pre-existing conditions as Obamacare”. The Republican Plan maintains the requirement that allows people under 26 to be covered by their parents’ insurance.

Since Obamacare became effective in 2010, it reduced the number of uninsured people by 20 million, with patients less likely to skip needed care. Given these premises it would have been difficult to introduce any new health care plan, let alone one with these conditions.

From words to activism

Marta Guerreiro, is a Portuguese writer that came to London three years ago, “I wanted to study abroad, in a place where I would have more opportunities, where I could have my freedom and my independence.” She is studying journalism at the University of East London, but her career started way before that.

How did that the book started?
I had a lot of free time; I was finishing the second year of high school in Portug226045_109673569131279_8215099_nal. Instead of going out I decide to stay home during the summer. I never harsh about it as a book, but just a story. But when I finish I realise it was big enough, and that was good, I send it to publishers, and one of them wanted to publish the book, and some days later it was on sale in bookstores.

How was it deal with fame at such a young age?
It was weird. I never thought that something that I wrote would become so famous in my country. After the interview that I did for a Portuguese channel, everyone knew who I was, but not for a long time. It was strange because by the time I was just 15, and my book was related to the subject of cerebral palsy and depression. For me, at that age, it was hard to answer questions related to this topic, just because I was not able to give them the right answer at that time because I was so young.

Can you tell me a little more about the questions? What was the hardest question that someone asked you, or the one that you remember the most?
Well, the one that I remember the most was this lady that accused me of using my sister to get money, what is wrong, because or you are already a successful writer, or is hard to get money from your first book. About the questions once there was this email from a lovely lady, that her mother had a disability, her husband tries to commit suicide she was desperate asking me for help, help that I didn’t know how to give. That was the time that I said to my mum that I had to stop to receive this kind of emails, it was not healthy, at least not for me. I was not the person to ask this kind of things; I didn’t know anything at the time, I was just a kid. But there was one that I really could help; it was a lady, with two children, one with cerebral palsy and the other one healthy, she asked me If I could talk to the healthy one to help him out on how to deal with the situation. That moment gave me straights because it shows that my book could and can help people, I just felt such a bliss.

“I couldn’t handle the subjects that I was writing about”

Situations evolve, so where were you after all this?
After I write the book, I felt a lot of pressure from the editor, my friends and all the people525845_285509671547667_3114445_n that follow me on social media. So, I wrote the second one, not because I wanted but just because of the pressure. As a result, I never read that book because I don’t like it, I don’t even like to look at it. Is not something that I’m proud. After that experience I quite writing, I wanted nothing to do with that. I wanted to be as far as I could from writing because people always associated me with that young girl that wrote about something so mature. So, I spend about four years without writing, just writing some things on my blog but not in the same way that I use to write.

So how do you look at that girl now? And how you see yourself in the future?
Now, I look at that girl as a girl that had an amazing experience and a privilege for having something publish so young, but in my future projects, I don’t want to have the same experience the way I had before (like that girl). I want to do something that I’m proud of and about something that I can handle. At that time, I couldn’t handle the subjects that I was writing about; it was supposed to be something personal and become something famous. Right now, I’m back to writing, for magazines and blogs but is an activist kind of writing; now I’m different Marta.

You told before that you add a break of 4 years of writing, but was in that four years that you become an activist. How was that change?
When I stop writing, I felt that I should be something that I wanted to be, not the perfect child that write a book, and every parent want it. I was perfect for the other people eyes, that wasn’t the truth I had a lot of difficulties, as a person and people didn’t know that they were expecting something of me that was not me able to give. After that experience, I became an LGBT+ activist, because I want it to shout out loud that you can be a writer, do amazing projects and still have your voice. You don’t have to be the perfect person that society wants you to be and being activist an LGBT+ person, and still, do amazing things, so one thing does lien to another, you can be queer, have tattoos, pricings, whatever and still be a foreign student, a writer. I have the impression that people aren’t aware of that when I was writing the first book.


“If people are anti-feminism at least they heard about it”


How was your activism? Where you a part of any group or association?

I was a volunteer for a group of family planning since I was 12 till I was 16, mostly of what I did was go to school and events talk to young people the importance of protecting yourself, and offering condoms in the end. With that, I work with LGBT+ people, in events as the Pride where I had the contact with the community.

The LGBT+ society changes a lot since then till now. Does this society still rep17806996_697783313726269_1670027891_nresent what you believe?
I am a part of this community (LGBT+), but I understand that inside of the community there’s a lot of homophobia, racism, transphobia. I’m still part of the community, but I’m aware of the problems that exist inside of the community, it doesn’t mean that doesn’t represent me, but at the same time I want to be sure that I know the problems inside the community and I want to be able to deal when this kind of situations happen.

Talking about other activism that you do, being a feminist, you saw the evolution of this movement. How this affect you has a woman and as a writer?
I think feminism become so mainstream because the social network is a tool now that did exist back in the days, but this social network as a great importance because it makes you share information, reaching young people and reaching the right meaning of feminism. I don’t think it was awesome for the word to be an underdog, I don’t even know for real that it was that underdog because I was so young, but when I was 16, I saw a lot of grown up women fighting for feminism. Maybe it was mainstream for us as young people, but now that I’m aware that a lot of individuals are feminism and a lot of individuals are anti-feminism I find it more mainstream. It is essential that we talk about it, the fact that people think is a bad word it means that the word is out there, people are reading it, people know about it. If people are anti-feminism at least they heard about it, they are just misinformed or are just sexists, but at least they know it exists is not a taboo anymore.17807183_697783317059602_909501900_n

To finish, do think we live in a men’s world?
I don’t think I know for sure if you see politics is about them. For example, men can be described as good actors, but women normally are described as a hot actress, the pay gap is also a good example. But what show me that we live in a men’s world is the different way that we judge different genders, as the men are more likely to be judged by their character, the women are more judge by their looks. It hurts me because I see amazing women, that have fantastic ideas, but they are cut down because they aren’t man. There was a lot of women doing amazing thing for science, maths and other areas but they are not recognised in the same way as men, as you can see in the film High Figures for example. Women are still considered guilty for being rape; women are killed in some countries because they try to fight for their rights. So obviously is a men’s world and I end up suffering for being a woman. The politic situation now shows that the world is not a safe place for us and we still need to continue fighting.

<p><a href=”″>International Women’s Day</a> from <a href=”″>Marta Guerreiro</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

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