Among the students learning about Latvian language and culture is 22-year-old Ian Pumpurs from Florida, USA, whose grandparents went to the United States during the Second World War. He had heard a lot about his roots coming from Latvia in family stories, but now is in Riga to attend a summer school for diaspora youth.
"I've dreamed all my life about coming to Latvia and the opportunity to learn the culture, which I could never do as an ordinary tourist. I cannot really learn the language at home because my grandmother lives very far away. I really want to learn more about folklore.
Another student, Ella Lutere from Washington has just participated in the Song and Dance Celebration with a diaspora dance group.
"My grandparents were teenagers when they left Latvia, from the Soviet Union to the United States. They are active in the Latvian community, but I am not their child, so it was not their decision to enrol me and to learn the language. I made this choice myself," says Lutere.
The Latvian language and culture summer school is being held for the first time at the University of Latvia. During two weeks the participants will learn Latvian language intensively - in the first half of the day they will learn grammar, but in the second half of the day they will discuss Latvian history, culture, art and folklore. Various museum visits are also planned, explains Sarmīte Miltiņa, Director of the Pre-Study Center at the University of Latvia.
24 people have enrolled for the course, which runs until July 24 and includes students from the USA, Sweden, Norway, Russia, Italy and Brazil whose parents or grandparents were Latvians who, for various reasons, emigrated from Latvia.