Young Estonian from Siberia: The meaning of Estonian Independence Day
Author: Valerii Krinberg
I am happy to congratulate people of Estonian origin across the world!
24 February has played a great role in my life, bringing me only positivity and strength. At home in Siberia, we always celebrated this day with pride, in line with Estonian traditions. I am and remain and Estonian (Eestlane olen ja eestlaseks jään). This song is sung and cherished beyond Estonia. This is a favourite song for everyone who feel they have a connection with the country of their roots. The Estonian national flag and national costume are an integral part of this sacred day in my home too, in faraway Siberia!
I have moved back to Estonia, so to say, that is, to a place my relatives either left voluntarily or were criminally deported from. It was quite unexpected for me that I was welcome in Estonia. Everyone was friendly and helpful. I acquired so many memorable experiences. I had the strongest feelings at my first song festival in 2017. I could see tears in the eyes of my Estonian relatives when they sang, and they were not used to showing emotion. This is when I was sure I was at home and I wanted to stay here and live with the Estonian people and develop the Estonian state and contribute to society.
Unfortunately, 24 February now symbolises something else apart from Estonia’s Independence Day. It was a great horror when tears of joy became tears of pain a year ago. I am proud that small Estonia has a great heart, and the country and the people are making a maximum effort to help. Estonians know the meaning of occupation, freedom and independence and they cannot sit and watch how others force their inadequate opinions and rule on another country.
However, I would also like to highlight one more thing. People can have different views on things regardless of their citizenship. Perhaps people as groups should not be viewed with preconceived ideas. A person with a different nationality can also be an Estonian patriot.
Independent Estonia has successfully met today’s challenges. Estonia is a digital country with its cool values! I am very glad that Estonia is supporting Estonian communities and young people across the world. Estonia has several scholarships that help young people return to Estonia or move there. And Estonia has accomplished a lot with that. Estonia is expanding and raising its profile in the world. Estonia is a strong country with its own history that has taught us some important things. Estonia is my second home and I am sending you happy wishes from my second home!
Estonian from Siberia, Upper Suetuk
4th year student at the Department of Architecture and Urban Planning at the Estonian Academy of Arts
Member of the board of the Global Estonian Youth Network