Currently receiving the Fulbright Doctoral Degree (PhD) Scholarship at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Liene is from Valmiera and started her career at Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences as a student and continues on as a lecturer, teaching "Mass Communication," "Public Speech," "Creative Writing" and "Culture and Communication." As her favourite place in Valmiera she names Dzirnavu lake - a place that holds a lot of dear memories of the paths Liene has taken in her life.
What is your favourite place in Valmiera?
One of my favourite places is Dzirnavu lake, which is on the way to my main milestones both in my early childhood and now. When you go to the Dzirnavu lake, you can see the place where I have studied – Valmiera’s 5th Secondary School. Also, the music school building in my childhood was on the same side of the lake but I lived on the other side of the lake at that time. Now it is on my way from one university building to another, and even then, it is necessary to walk along it [laughs]. It is especially possible to observe how seasons change in the vicinity of the Dzirnavu lake, to see if the fountain is turned on or not. I remember that there was a small plenary at the school at a time, where I sat and draw trees and houses. All my roads led and still lead along this place.
What distinguishes Valmiera from other Latvian cities?
I have to say that I have not tried to live in other cities except Rīga. Consequently, my comparisons are made more with the capital city and not so much with other places in Latvia. I would say that Valmiera is a place where there is enough of everything, but at the same time is is also so pleasantly small.
It boasts active cultural life, but at the same time it is also possible to spend a lot of timeby the nature, there are enough people, but at the same time there is also a lot of quiet places. It feels like a big city, but it is just a 10 minute-walk to get out of the centre. There is a good balance between the civilisation and silence. Of course, Valmiera is one of the few regional places where there is a university, which definitely adds to its charm. It is full of students and therefore has a vibrant feel.
How did you get to work in Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences?
I have graduated from Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences with a degree in Public Relations. It is logical that the first job I started to work at was a public relations agency in Rīga. I cameback to Valmiera, because at one point I realised that the agency had given me enough extensive experience, although it was relatively short, and made it possible to understand what was important to me.
It was important for me to work as a public relations specialist in one institution, rather than serving a large number of clients. This also coincided with the time when the university was looking for a public relations specialist, and that's how I got to this position.
Quite logical to have a lecturer position, because while I was working as a public relations officer in a cabinet with an international division, I was given an interesting offer to study a Master's programme "Intercultural Communication" in Finland, which at that moment was a new thing in Latvia. Coming back from studying, I slowly got offers to teach those courses, because it was an actuality and there were not many people who could talk about this topic. For a moment, when combining my public relations specialist's duties with teaching, I realised that I like teaching. It's very difficult to work at the university and at some point not be pulled into teaching [laughs]. Then followed the PhD studies - I became interested in communicating in the broader sense, not only as a public relations specialist but also looking at cultural issues and interpersonal communication.
To what do you pay the most attention on a daily basis in your work?
To my students! Everything is about and around the students! [Laughing.] I make sure that they focus on studies, are motivated and study with a clear purpose. It is important that a student clearly knows what is expected from them. Like it or not, but there is a saying, "God is hiding in the details”, and I feel that I'm focused on the details, which in my opinion is the consequence of my first job, where it is quite clear that from some slight neglect there can be very, very huge consequences.
Therefore, in some matters, such as a description of the tasks for students, I know that if I have not been clear enough in my statements and in my expressions, then I will see confused faces, many questions that unnecessarily complicate life for both me and the students. So it's good to focus on those details right from the start so everything is clear. Of course, at the same time, without being subjected to any extreme and without becoming a slave to details.
Do you have any special methods which help you to deal with difficult situations? What are they?
I will not give anything original here. When I have more and more difficult work or a complicated life situation, I try to eat more properly and sleep properly. Also, I may have some sort of self-defence response. If I'm really very bad, then I'm going to go to bed to make important decisions with a clear head, because nobody - me most of all - will not be good if I'm overthinking and feeling bad about anything all night. In order to cope with the difficulties, I must be in the best possible position for both relaxation and a healthy lifestyle.
What inspires and motivates you?
I really like the theatre. I regret that I have very little time and I cannot schedule regular visits to the Valmiera Drama Theater. Also in the theatre, from time to time, I need some of the performances that cause me a lot of shock. I don't like something fun and entertaining, I need something that pulls my inside out of me and makes me think about it for two weeks. It seems to me that this is the task of art – knocking everyone out of their comfort zones.
What is the taste of Valmiera?
The taste of Valmiera, in my opinion, is something that can be eaten mostly in the summer, all kinds of cold soups. Especially if you can eat it in your garden under an apple tree.