Gabija’s emigration essay wins top all-Ireland prize

Gabija Ziberataite receives her prize from Lisa Blevins, manager of Eason's store at Rushmere as Rotary President Kate Adams looks on.
Gabija Ziberataite receives her prize from Lisa Blevins, manager of Eason's store at Rushmere as Rotary President Kate Adams looks on.

It is a great credit to Gabija Ziberataite’s linguistic skills – and to Hart Memorial PS - that the P7 pupil, originally from Lithuania, has won an all-Ireland essay competition.

Gabija (11) moved to Northern Ireland just five years ago, “all lonely and sad” and without any English. Now, she speaks it fluently with a Northern Ireland accent, often translating for adult members of the family.

Her essay ‘My New Life Journey’ topped the lot in the Rotary Club event, which was open to around 80 clubs.

Not only did it land a £50 gift card from Eason’s of Rushmere for Gabija, but Portadown Rotary Club also gave The Hart a literary prize.

The story gives a child’s insight into the upheaval of being uprooted from her native country, and it also shows the flexibility of children throughout Europe.

She writes, “It’s pretty scary for a six-year-old girl, and that was me when we first got to Northern Ireland. But in school I found friends and even best friends who I love and care about. It rains a lot in Northern Ireland with heavy winds.” She points out that the seasons in Lithuania are more pronounced, and that they celebrate Christmas Eve with a special dinner.

Gabija continues, “Also in Lithuania, not many schools wear schools uniforms. I like it because you look much smarter than with ordinary clothes. I was used to eating ordinary food in Lithuania, but then I saw how much fast foods are in Northern Ireland and I don’t like that much. I’m happy to live here and meet new people. I do appreciate this country a lot.”

Her teacher at The Hart, Jonathan Guy, is delighted at the achievement of Gabija.

Rotary Club pesident Kate Adams said, “Gabija won the junior section of the competition and obviously the judges – like us – found her entry very touching. The Hart is a regular supporter of the event and we congratulate the school for producing such a worthy winner. We are indebted to Lisa Blevins, manager of Eason’s Rushmere store, for her and the company’s interest.”