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IU celebrates 93rd Estonian Independence Day

POSTED AT 10:21 PM ON Feb. 23, 2011 

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Commemorating the 93rd anniversary of the Estonian declaration of independence, IU and Bloomington community members gathered Monday in the Indiana Memorial Union to celebrate and experience Estonian culture.

Among the guests was the Ambassador of Estonia to the United States, Väino Reinart, who was delighted to be celebrating on IU’s campus.

“It is a privilege, knowing the Estonian independence day has been celebrated in this room for over 40 years,” Reinart said.

Although the declaration was signed in 1918, Estonia spent decades occupied by the Soviet Union, which kept Estonians from being able to celebrate their independence day at home.

Only in 1991 was the state of Estonia restored. Reinart was happy that although Estonians did not experience freedom at home during the years of occupation, Hoosiers at IU were able to commemorate the holiday in hopes of achieving freedom again.

“Thank you for celebrating the Estonian independence throughout many years, in fact more years then we could celebrate the days back in Estonia,” he said.

Reinart mentioned Estonia’s commitment to helping other nations achieve independence in the future.

“Today our soldiers are fighting next to American soldiers to make freedom flourish. We are very grateful to the American people who have made it possible to keep the Estonian studies and culture here alive,” Reinart said.

Attendees enjoyed a real taste of Estonian culture through food, traditional music and art.

Today marks the date that the declaration of independence was first signed in Estonia. Fortunately, Estonians are able to celebrate their independence and their progress back at home this year.

Professor for Central Eurasian Studies Toivo Raun made remarks on Estonia’s growth.

“By its progress in various important areas, including a democratic political system, a well-functioning market economy and strong achievements in education, Estonia has demonstrated that it fully belongs as an equal member of the international community,” Raun said.

Photographs taken by renowned Estonian photographer Arne Maasik were put on display for the event.

IU community members shared Estonian poetry, and the ceremony included several musical groups.

Siilikesed, a student chorus comprised of members from the Baltic and Finnish Student Association, performed traditional and popular songs. An
instrumental group shared

several Estonian folk tunes, using traditional instruments that were 2,000 years old, including kannels, a plucked string instrument and bagpipes.

After singing the Estonian national anthem, guests enjoyed a traditional Estonian feast.

Students, including master’s student Cody Behles, enjoyed getting a taste of Estonian culture.

“I came to gain Estonian cultural exposure, and I am always impressed with the events that the Inner Asian and Uralic National Resource Center puts on,” Behles said.

By recognizing Estonia’s independence day in a place as far away as Bloomington, IU continued its tradition of commemorating international affairs.

“This celebration reflects and reinforces IUB’s commitment to international studies more broadly,” Raun said. “It certainly honors the memory and vision of our great president, Herman B Wells.”

 

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