VOICES FROM THE FIELDTHE IRC BLOG
Refugee Journeys: Jurate Kazickas - Lithuania, 1944
December 20, 2010 by The IRC
|Jurate Kazickas Photo: Jim Gaffey|
"I became very interested in the problem of refugees around the world because of my own background and knowing how grateful we were that we were welcomed by America, that we were able to find work and homes and create a new life. You feel that empathy for people going through what you yourself went through."
- Jurate Kazickas
Jurate Kazickas was born in 1943 in Lithuania. Her parents, Joseph and Alexandra Kazickas, were part of the Resistance that opposed Soviet occupation in 1940 as well as the subsequent three-year German occupation. When the Soviet armies returned in 1944, her parents fled westward with their infant daughter. The family lived in several displaced persons camps in Germany until 1947 when Kazickas’ father won a fellowship to Yale university. Ultimately he became a successful businessman and philanthropist.
After graduating from Trinity College the young Kazickas worked in Kenya as a volunteer teacher. She began her journalism career at LOOK magazine and in 1967 went to Vietnam to cover the war as a freelance photojournalist. She was wounded during the battle of Khe Sanh in 1968. Kazickas subsequently spent 10 years as a reporter for the Associated Press, covering the Middle East war, the successful american Bicentennial Everest expedition, and chronicling the women’s liberation movement. In 1977 as a White House correspondent, she covered first lady Rosalynn Carter. She later became a feature writer at The Washington Star.
She is the co-author of a number of books on women’s history, including Susan B. Anthony Slept Here. She co-wrote War Torn: Stories of War from the Women Reporters Who Covered Vietnam and edited Odyssey of Hope, which tells the story of her family’s experiences during World War II and as immigrants to America and recounts the Lithuanian independence movement.
A former board member of the Women’s Refugee Commission, Kazickas has visited survivors of crises in Bosnia, Rwanda, Pakistan and Afghanistan and has lobbied in Washington on behalf of refugees.
After the reestablishment of Lithuania’s independence in 1991, she and her family started the Kazickas family foundation, with offices in Vilnius and New York, which sponsors educational projects, scholarships and cultural programs in Lithuania.
Kazickas is the co-founder of Teach the World Online/ Haiti, which was launched in response to the January 2010 earthquake that devastated many of the country’s schools. The project enables volunteers in the United States to give daily English lessons for hundreds of Haitian school children. Her dream is to expand the project to impoverished countries worldwide.
Kazickas is married to Roger C. Altman, chairman of Evercore Partners. They have three children and live in New York City.
Jurate Kazickas is one of 10 distinguished refugees who were honored by the International Rescue Committee at our 2010 Freedom Award Dinner in New York City. Check back each Monday for a new story of a refugee who has fled tyranny and persecution and who has made the most of the opportunity to begin again and thrive in the U.S. You can see all of the stories posted so far here.