Līga Ruperte, seen here with her husband Arnolds, has been honored by the World Federation of Free Latvians.
Līga Ruperte, founder of the 3×3 culture camp movement that now is active on three continents, has been named this year’s recipient of the top honor awarded by the World Federation of Free Latvians (Pasaules brīvo latviešu biedrība, or PBLA).
The honor, which includes a cash award of USD 5,000 and a diploma, is announced on Nov. 18, the anniversary of Latvia’s declaration of independence. The honor recognizes Latvians for their noteworthy work in science, politics, the community or the arts. The honor was first bestowed in 1963, according to PBLA’s website.
The first camp was held in 1981 at the Latvian Center Gaŗezers in Michigan. Since then camps have been held also in the Catskill Mountains of New York, in Canada, France, Sweden and Australia, according a PBLA press release. In 1990, the first 3×3 camp was held in Latvia.
Ruperte, who was born in Daugavpils in 1932 and moved to the United States after World War II, developed the culture camp movement in 1980. Leaving maintenance of Latvian identity in exile to the existing system of ethnic education was insufficient, Ruperte suggested. Adults especially needed to be motivated, according to the PBLA press release.
Ruperte’s idea for the 3×3 camp called for a week-long experience in which Latvians of all ages would participate. Although structured, the camps are informal and include a variety of activities and topics, covering areas as politics, foodways, ceramics, music and dance.
Since the first one, a total of 180 3×3 camps have been held around the world, serving 26,000 ethnic Latvians, according to the PBLA. Ruperte herself has led a number of the camps or served as a lecturer. She remains a board member of the camp movement in the United States, Australia and Latvia.
Ruperte earned her doctorate in education in 1973 from the University of Michigan. She has worked as a teacher and school director. Besides her work with 3×3, she also has participated in Latvian summer high schools in the U.S. and Australia, as well as an instructor in the 2×2 camp movement, which is geared toward training young leaders for Latvian communities.
Ruperte also served on the board of the Americn Latvian Association, from 1977-1993 leading the organization’s efforts in extracurricular education. From 1979-2003, she led the PBLA’s education board. In 1995 she founded and until 2003 led the Family Support Coordination Center (Ģimenes atbalsta koordinācijas center) in Latvia.
Ruperte is married to Arnolds Ruperts. They have a son, also named Arnolds, and three grandchildren, Anita, Arnolds and Andrejs.
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