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New forms of collaboration needed to link Estonians at home and abroad better

5. September 2017 - 16:03
Lääneranniku Eesti Päevad
Lääneranniku Eesti Päevad

The XXXIII West Coast Estonian Days in Los Angeles concluded today which brought together Estonians from all over the world . This year’s festival was dedicated to the 100th birthday of the Republic of Estonia. During the four densely filled days, participants got to experience a rich cultural programme and seminars. At the gathering, the role of the Estonian diaspora for the Estonian culture was discussed, and how Estonians living abroad can be more effectively engaged. 

The seminars held within the framework of the XXXIII West Coast Estonian Days, included discussions about culture, economics, integration and politics. The Undersecretary for Cultural Diversity of the Estonian Ministry of Culture, Piret Hartman gave a presentation about developments in Estonian society and challenges in the area of integration, based on the most recent immigration monitoring survey of the Estonian society. She also participated in the discussion panel “Estonian culture and the Estonian language in the Estonian diaspora”. The undersecretary gave an overview of the work done together with the Estonian diaspora and talked about the national compatriot programme for 2014-2020, as well as state support available for Estonians living abroad.

“Our compatriots abroad and the Estonian friends everywhere are the ambassadors of the Estonian culture in the world. The more people foster it, the more vital Estonian culture is,” emphasized Hartman.

In his presentation, the Enterprise Estonia foreign representative to Silicon Valley Andrus Viirg said that business doesn’t work without culture and vice versa. “It is time to take our relations with our global compatriots to a new level. It is important to create platforms and networks that would, on the one hand, involve young people and, on the other hand, create new values,” said Viirg.

“Our compatriots have a competitive advantage – they know the Estonian culture, in addition to being well versed in the society of another country, and through their knowledge we can build multifaceted relations. This would also help raise interest in the Estonian culture and, consequently, the Estonian state and economy as well. This, in turn, will provide a great opportunity to develop the Estonian creative industry,” added Hartman.

According to the 2017 Human Development Report, over 200 000 Estonians live outside Estonia. “We need new, smart ways of working together, for the connection with the Estonian diaspora to be strong and effective. It would allow us to utilise the large and rich resource of compatriots for the benefit of Estonia to the maximum,” emphasized Hartman.

Since 1953, the West Coast Estonian Days are organized every other year, alternating between Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, and Seattle in the USA and Vancouver Canada. The programme for the Days included several concerts, a song festival, a film programme as well as many thematic presentations and seminars. This was also the largest event celebrating the centenary of the Estonian Republic in North America, with over five hundred people participating. The Ministry of Culture supported the participation of the Estonian cultural collectives at the festival with nearly 53 000 euros.

Read more about the XXXIII West Coast Estonian Days here.


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