Dozens of young foreign Estonians to attend language and culture camps in Viljandi County this summer

The Integration Foundation runs Estonian language and culture camps for young foreign Estonians in July and August each year. This year, with the help of our partner NPO HeadEst, the foundation will be hosting 66 youngsters at three camps.

The youngsters will be descending on Viljandi County from 17 countries: Portugal, the United States, Norway, Denmark, Ireland, Germany, Serbia, Italy, Belgium, Sweden, Finland, Luxembourg, France, the United Kingdom, Ukraine, Romania and Russia (from the Krasnoyarsk region, Kaliningrad, Moscow and St Petersburg).

In total 143 youngsters living abroad applied via the Integration Foundation website for the summer camps being held in 2019. First and foremost, those who have never attended a camp before, including those who have never been to Estonia, were accepted. In early April we selected the applicants to take part based on their Estonian skills, their motivation, how old they are, how long they have lived outside of Estonia and the number of times they have attended camps in the past.

For young people aged 13-18 who have an Estonian background but live in other countries, the camps are an opportunity to study the language, get to know Estonian kids their own age and learn more about Estonia’s cultural environment. They go sightseeing and on excursions and play sport together. Taking part in the camps alongside their foreign Estonian peers, helping them with their language practice and introducing them to the things kids get up to in the country, will be 24 local Estonian-speaking youngsters.

Jana Tondi, the Head of Language and Cultural Immersion with the Integration Foundation, says that by attending the camps young Estonians who live abroad feel a connection with their homeland and the Estonian language. “What they experience at the camps motivates them to learn more about the country and gets them thinking about whether and how their future lives might be tied to Estonia,” she explained.

Once again this year the camps are being organised by the NPO HeadEst, which has been a partner to the Integration Foundation since 2014.

All three camps will be held at Venevere Holiday Centre in Viljandi County. Organiser Epp Adler describes Venevere as the best place to organise camps in the country. The 1st camp will be held from 8-18 July for youngsters whose Estonian skills are elementary. The 2nd camp will be held from 22 July-1 August for youngsters who speak Estonian at an upper-intermediate level. The 3rd camp will be held from 5-15 August for youngsters who speak Estonian at an upper-intermediate level or are fluent in the language.

The Integration Foundation has been running such camps since 2000.

Language and culture camps for young people with Estonian roots are supported by the Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Education.

More information about according contest is published here.

PHOTO

Estonian language and culture camp in 2018.