Summit, scholarship on president’s travel agenda

Latvian President Vaira-Vīķe Freiberga has scheduled a weeklong visit to the United States and Canada, during which she will participate in the 44th Annual International Achievement Summit, meet with United Nations officials and unveil a new scholarship named for her.

The president travels May 30 to New York, where her first order of business will be to meet with U.N. officials, including Secretary-General Kofi Annan, according to the president’s press office. Vīķe-Freiberga in April was named one of five envoys charged with promoting Annan’s reform agenda.

She also is to meet with Gen. Joseph Ralston, former NATO commander in Europe, to whom the president will present the Order of Viesturs, Latvia’s highest military honor.

From June 1-4 Vīķe-Freiberga is to attend the achievement summit in New York. The summit, hosted by the Washington, D.C.-based Academy of Achievement, each year brings together a small group of graduate students with men and women from various fields who have achieved greatness. In 2000, Vīķe-Freiberga was among recipients of the academy’s Golden Plate award for achievement in public service.

After the summit, Vīķe-Freiberga heads to Toronto, where she will attend a fundraising event that will establish a scholarship fund in her name. The June 4 event, “Latvians in the New World,” is organized by the Latvian sorority Spīdola and the Latvian Canadian Cultural Centre with support from the Latvian National Federation in Canada. The president is a member of the Spīdola sorority, which was formed in Germany in 1947.

The Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga Endowment Fund will support postgraduate study in Latvian language education.

“Our goal in establishing the Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga Endowment Fund was to raise $30,000 as a starting point,” Inese Flude, president of Spīdola’s Toronto chapter, said in a press release. “However, based on the response we have received from the private sector, individual donors and community organizations, we are on track to raise much more than that.”

During her time in Canada, Vīķe-Freiberga also is expected to meet with students from four Toronto-area Latvian schools.

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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