Students from Latvia clean up Belarus cemetery

A group of about 60 students from Latvia has traveled to Belarus to clean up an old Latvian cemetery and learn something about history, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reports.

The students, public relations majors at the School of Business Administration Turība and members of the Talavija fraternity, spent April 18-19 in the old Latvian settlement of Vaclavov tending to the cemetery.

The settlement, in the northwest part of Belarus, was founded in the late 19th century and at one time was home to about 90 Latvian families. The settlement got its name from its first inhabitant. Before World War II, the area had a Latvian kolkhoz under the name “Celtne” that included a high school, according to Vilberts Krasnais’ 1938 book Latviešu kolōnijas.

The project to clean up the cemetery was called “400 km vēstures virzienā” (400 Kilometers in the Direction of History) and was organized with help from the Latvian Embassy in Belarus, the Latvian Academy of Sciences and the University of Latvia’s Insitute of History.

Although local authorities had already done some cleanup at the cemetery, the students kept busy during the two days tending to graves and their markers, as well as installing a memorial tablet.

The bus trip from Rīga to Belarus included a 2.5-hour delay at the border. Video of the trip is available on the Internet portal and includes clips of the bus trip and work at the cemetery.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

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