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On November 17 the global students’ community commemorates an important celebration. Its origin dates back to 1941 London, when during an international student meeting against fascism it was decided to proclaim the International Student Day. On this occasion, students from all over the world, regardless of race, language and tradition, are invited to talk about common problems and celebrate the victories of the student community. This year with the world locked down by the pandemic, this commemoration has a new meaning. The empty halls of high education institutions and silence that lingers in the hallways of universities undoubtedly testifies to the unity of students from all over the world, speaks to the increased responsibility of those seeking and providing education, and shows the sincere joint work of distance learning. Tautvydas Petkus, the Chairman of the Vilnius University Student Representation at the Faculty of Medicine (VU SA MF), is convinced that the mission to be a student today is indeed possible and special.

Tautvydas Petkus, a third-year medical student from Vilnius, who took the wheel of the VU SA MF in the spring of this year, is actively working in the Student Representation. "It would be difficult to describe today's student briefly, because everyone is engaged in infinitely different things, pursues different goals, even counts and uses their time very differently," Tautvydas says. "However, I can say with confidence that all students are particularly active and are happy to engage in different activities that not only help them become better professionals in their future specialty fields, but also develop their personalities."

The world’s population nowadays is most concerned about the current epidemiological situation, recent and especially future changes in our lives. According to Tautvydas, a modern student understands that the best way to predict the future is ... to create it by yourself. Vilnius University is a world-renowned prestigious Lithuanian science and studies institution, which develops world-class science and offers science-based, international level studies. "The students of our ALMA MATER are always characterized by the ability to create the future of our country, remain true to the academic ideals, maintain high motivation and be useful to the Homeland and the world," the Chairman of VU SA MF says with pride.

He is convinced that in all times, and especially in times of health threats, the mission of the students of the Faculty of Medicine has been and remains exceptional. They are entrusted to take care of the most important thing at any historical moment, in any part of the world – human health. Even now, with the shortage of medical staff on the front lines of the COVID-19 battle, the students of the Faculty of Medicine are the first who rush to provide assistance.

According to Tautvydas, it is quite difficult to be a student today: you have to learn a lot, you have to adapt to the new challenges that have arisen during the transition to distance learning. Absorbing a large amount of up-to-date information often takes a lot of time, but the current technologies allow for unlimited interest in your field. "As you move forward, it is important not to get burned out not to be afraid of new challenges and to set as many goals as possible," the young man who responsibly represents the interests of MF students advises sincerely.

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Tautvydas calls the coronavirus a "surprise that no one expected or wanted". The VU community is actively learning to adapt to new conditions. "Obviously, students studying at the Faculty of Medicine cannot learn everything only remotely, because all study programs are in one way or another related to human care and direct contact, but in such an epidemiological situation, all that remains is to protect the health and hope for the best!"

Currently, the Faculty of Medicine is one of the largest and most significant in Vilnius University. The Faculty of Medicine employs more than 800 pedagogical, scientific and support staff, more than 470 academic staff and others. Academic youth of the Faculty is also active: more than 3,000 students, more than 800 residents are studying in integrated, bachelor's and master's studies, more than 100 doctoral students are studying in various fields of medical science. The Faculty also has more than 550 students from foreign countries: Germany, Sweden, Brazil, Israel, Poland, Italy, Singapore, etc.

Speaking about the plans of the Student Representation at the Faculty of Medicine, its chairman highlights the further improvement of the quality of distance learning. As long as "live" practical sessions are not possible, there is a growing emphasis on study subjects that need more attention, where better student involvement is necessary or lack of the live contact needs to be compensated for.

"Only by working together we, the students, and our beloved ALMA MATER community will do our best to overcome the challenges of studies and student life with consensus, sincere work and a responsible attitude," Tautvydas Petkus states, wishing everyone health and a quicker return to "our old way of life", improved with respect to the new requirements. - Dear students, let us become an example for others by protecting our own health and the health of those around us. Let's study diligently, let's not give up and let's not forget that success is always born out of the enthusiasm that we have not lost after facing a failure.”

International Student Day was born in a whirlwind of painful historical events

Currently November 17th is a friendly and non-political celebration in many countries, marking the unity of students. Its roots lie in a very painful period for Europe. On that day in 1939 the Nazis sieged Czech (then Czechoslovak) universities, killed many of their students, and sent more than 1,000 to concentration camps. In 1941 Members of the International Student Council, which existed in London at the time, including many war refugees, agreed with Allied commanders that the 17th of November will become the International Student Day. This tradition stuck to this day.

In 1989, 50 years later, the atrocities happened again, but this time they were no longer perpetrated by the Nazis but by the supporters of communism. On November 17th of that year, Czechoslovak students organized a celebration of the International Student Day. 15 thousand people participated. The event became an opportunity for many students to express dissatisfaction with the Czechoslovak Communist Party. The peaceful demonstration saw an outbreak of violence: police units were used to quell the riots, other law enforcement officers and Communist Party supporters began beating the demonstrators at dusk. The very next day, students and theater actors began to strike. The events of those days helped ignite a revolution against the communist regime in Czechoslovakia. And now, after the separation of the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993, November 17 is a public holiday in those countries. In the 21st century the International Student Day has been celebrated in many countries in Europe and the world, including Lithuania.

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