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September shines the spotlight on national minorities
Five reasons to attend the ‘National Cultures Creative Pot’ festival

Lone-wolf cultural associations to work together as a pack

Nominations for annual integration awards also open to young people
Make a note in your diaries: international integration conference to be held on 15 & 16 November
Organiser of Estonian language courses for teachers from Ida-Viru County announced
Want to practise your Estonian? Register for our language cafés!
A cultural integration programme in Tartu kicks off in September
App planned to help people practise Estonian
Want to get to grips with Estonian culture? Take your first ‘Culture Step’!
Need a shot of courage to take the citizenship exam?
New director for Implementation Centre
Who is the director of the Estonian Language Centre in Tallinn? 
Who is the director of the Estonian Language Centre in Narva?

September shines the spotlight on national minorities


September is National Minorities Month in Estonia, encouraging people to acknowledge the many and varied ethnic backgrounds that are represented in the country. Estonia is home to people of 194 nationalities, making the month the perfect opportunity to discover their cultures, handicrafts and cuisines.


The month is jam-packed with events showcasing minority culture in Tallinn, Jõhvi, Pärnu, Haapsalu and elsewhere. In addition to concerts and exhibitions there will be a wide range of workshops – anyone wishing to can try their hand at making Turkish coffee and Udmurt cuisine, learning Lezgin dances or fashioning traditional Russian rag dolls.


Irene Käosaar, the director of the Integration Foundation, says that more than 300 cultural associations and 30 Sunday schools of different nationalities operate in Estonia, keeping their mother tongues, customs and handicraft skills alive. “The people from these associations who hold the traditions of their own forefathers so dear also have a lot of respect for Estonian customs and culture,” she added.

The biggest national groups in the country besides Estonians themselves are Russians, Ukrainians, Belarusians and Finns. Large numbers of Tatars, Jews, Lithuanians, Poles, Germans and Armenians also reside in Estonia. According to the most recent census, the numbers of Ukrainian, Georgian, Azeri, Swedish, British, American, Italian, French, Dutch and Chinese people living in the country have all increased.

"Estonia’s greatest assets are its people, its diverse cultural heritage and its traditions,” said Piret Hartman, Deputy Secretary General for Cultural Diversity with the Estonian Ministry of Culture. “The more we recognise that fact, the more we value those assets, strive to preserve them, and foster contact between us, the stronger and happier we’ll be as a society.”

«With 2018 being European Year of Cultural Heritage, the spotlight is being shone on the rich and diverse history of culture all over the continent. September has therefore been designated National Minorities Month in Estonia,“ said Annela Laaneots, the project manager for Estonia for the European Year of Cultural Heritage and the Head of Information with the Estonian Folklore Council.


One of the most eagerly awaited events of National Minorities Month is the ethnofair and concert being organised by the Estonian Union of National Minorities on Town Hall Square in Tallinn from 10:00-18:00 on 22 & 23 September. The fair will offer traditional food and drinks and handicraft items for sale, while singing groups from national minority cultural associations will be taking to the stage for the concert.


The 15th national minority cultural festival ‘National Cultures Creative Pot’ will also be taking place on that weekend, at Jõhvi Concert Hall on 23 September.

Most of the events are free of charge.

More detailed information about the events can be found online HERE



Five reasons to attend the ‘National Cultures Creative Pot’ festival


September is National Cultures Month, which shines the spotlight on the national minorities living in Estonia. One of the most colourful events during the month will be the ‘National Cultures Creative Pot’ festival to be held at Jõhvi Concert Hall on 23 September. This important event in the calendar of the national minorities who live in Ida-Viru County is being organised for the 15th time. 


1. You can try a wide range of national dishes!

This year the organisers have added national dishes to the festival’s menu. Early birds will have the chance to try a variety of dishes from the buffet in the foyer of the concert hall. Come and find out what Uzbek, Jewish, Russian, Polish and other national dishes taste like!


The Noot café at the concert hall has also adapted its menu in honour of the festival and will be offering national dishes every day during the week leading up to the event.


2. You can buy a truly unique stamp!

A commemorative postage stamp is being issued to mark the 15th anniversary of the festival, along with a specially designed envelope and a unique postmark. The stamp will be unveiled at the Jõhvikas shopping centre in Jõhvi on 18 September but will also be available to buy at the festival itself. Anyone wishing to purchase a stamp should make sure they have some cash on them. 


The stamp is being issued in a limited print-run, making it particularly unique. Why not come along to the festival and send a letter using both the stamp and its matching envelope?


3. You can test your skills in exciting handicrafts!

Remember how your grandmother would sit in her chair working away with her fingers and saying how relaxing it was? Perhaps you should give it a go yourself! And where better to start than at the ‘Creative Pot’ festival, where you can learn how to embroider the way the Tartars do, make dolls and add images to ceramics? Narva Lace School will be hosting an amazing exhibition at the festival entitled ‘Lace as an Art’, and anyone interested in giving it a try for themselves is more than welcome to: Olga Kublitskaja from the school will be on hand to share her knowledge and skills.


4. You can take part in a mini-song festival!

Adding a splash of colour to the festival’s gala concert will be visiting collectives from Poland and Belarus, as well as Tallinn Boys’ Choir, led by Lydia Rahula. You yourself can join in with the singing, since folk musicians Ervin Lember, Illar Vimberg and Anatoli Zamahhov have been invited to take part and will be leading a powerful singing experience in which everyone will be encouraged to take part. Many traditional and much-loved songs will be sung as one during the concert.


5. You can enjoy a slice of birthday cake!

This year’s festival will be a sweet experience from start to finish: at the end of the day everyone will be offered a slice of the cake marking the 15th anniversary of the event. So don’t be in a rush to get home or you’ll miss out on coffee and cake – which will be offered on not one floor of the concert hall, but two! As you’re leaving, take a moment to thank festival organisers Anne Uttendorf from Jõhvi Culture & Hobby Centre and Aleksandr Dusman from Ida-Viru County Integration Centre for a great day.






Lone-wolf cultural associations to work together as a pack


National minority and Estonian umbrella organisations have taken the decision to start working together more closely. At 11:00 on Friday 7 September they will be gathering at Mooste Manor to start putting together joint projects.

Russians, Ukrainians, Mordvans, Tatars, Belarusians, Azeris, Armenians, Ingrian Finns, Estonians and other nationalities will be represented, with 65 participants in total.

The Integration Foundation’s Head of Partnership Relations Kristina Pirgop says that the first sizeable gathering of Estonian and national minority umbrella organisations took place a year ago. During that meeting the participants expressed their wish to continue holding such get-togethers, which is why the Integration Foundation is working with the Ministry of Culture and the Estonian Folklore Council to organise the gathering in Mooste.

“Last year we saw that discussions between people from different cultural backgrounds can be an amazing platform for new ideas and undertakings,” she said. “This time they’ll be working together to come up with joint projects, and they’ll then vote on them to decide which ones they can make a start on straight away. We’re providing 6000 euros in support for the best projects to help them along.”

During the gathering the attendees will also be discussing the topic ‘What can you do to ensure that your cultural heritage speaks to as many people as possible?’, since 2018 is European Year of Cultural Heritage and September is National Minorities Month in Estonia.




Nominations for annual integration awards also open to young people

The Integration Foundation has launched the competition for the 2017-2018 media and development awards in the field of integration. The foundation is looking to recognise anyone – be they individuals or organisations – who has encouraged people from different ethnic backgrounds to do things together in the last year. The prize fund is 4000 euros.


The media and development prizes in the field of integration are awarded in four categories:

  • Promotion to the general public of the cultures of the national minorities living in Estonia. One prize valued at 1000 euros is awarded in this category.
  • Fostering contact between people who speak Estonian and people who speak languages other than Estonian. One prize valued at 1000 euros is awarded in this category.
  • Shaping attitudes that support integration through media projects, radio programmes or articles. One prize valued at 1000 euros is awarded in this category.
  • Youth prize for contributing to the development of the field of integration or national minority culture (nominees up to and including 26 years of age). One prize valued at 1000 euros is awarded in this category.


Kristina Pirgop, the Head of Partnership Relations with the Integration Foundation, says that nominations are eagerly awaited for everyone who has contributed to the field of integration. “We’re particularly looking forward to receiving nominations for young people who have gotten those from different ethnic backgrounds in Estonia doing things together or whose actions and efforts have helped break down stereotypes,” she explained. “We want to recognise and reward them publicly, too.”


To lodge a nomination, fill in the appropriate application form on the Integration Foundation website at


The deadline for nominations is 16:00 on 10 October 2018.


The winners will be announced at the awards ceremony being held on 15 November. The names of the prize winners will be published on the website of the Integration Foundation.


The Integration Foundation has been awarding the development prizes since 1999, while media prizes were first presented in 2009. The awards are funded by the Ministry of Culture.


For further information please contact:

Kristina Pirgop, Head of Partnership Relations, telephone: +372 659 9024, e-mail:



Make a note in your diaries: international integration conference to be held on 15 & 16 November


This year’s conference is entitled ‘My Home, Our Home: What Unites Us in a Multicultural Community’ and will be held at Radisson Blu Sky Hotel (Rävala pst 3, Tallinn) on 15 & 16 November.


One of the most notable speakers at the conference will be David Laitin, a professor in political science at Stanford University in the United States, who heads up the Immigration Policy Lab evaluating and designing immigration policies ( Professor Laitin is also a published author whose works include Identity in Formation: The Russian-Speaking Populations in the Near Abroad, which analyses the identity of the Russian-speaking population in the post-Soviet era in Estonia, Latvia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine.


Also speaking at the conference will be Keith Banting from Queen’s University in Canada, one of the developers of the Multiculturalism Policy Index; Marie Gillespie, a professor of sociology at the Open University in the UK and one of the directors of the Centre for Research on Socio-Cultural Change (, who is also one of the people behind the ‘Dialogues Across Borders’ project; and Human Library creator Ronni Abergel from Denmark. The Human Library format is one in which people ‘lend out’ their own stories in lieu of books.




Organiser of Estonian language courses for teachers from Ida-Viru County announced

This autumn 120 teachers from Ida-Viru County will be taking part in Estonian language courses that are being organised by Eterna Koolituskeskus OÜ. Education workers from schools and kindergartens in the county can contact the Integration Foundation to register for the courses until 9 September.


There will be a total of 10 groups on the courses, which will be held in Narva, Sillamäe, Kohtla-Järve, Ahtme and Jõhvi. Each course will last for 250 academic hours, of which 210 will comprise classroom-based lessons and 40 non-formal learning. There will also be five training days to repeat and consolidate what has been learnt, as well as excursions around the country.


All of the tasks included in the course programme are closely linked to boosting the language abilities of the teachers, who will be practising their listening, speaking and writing skills.


The courses will start in late September and run through until May 2019. At the end of the course each participant will be required to take the state language exam at either the intermediate or advanced level.


Estonian language training for teachers from Ida-Viru County is financed to the value of €100,800 by the Ministry of Education and Research via the state budget.


For further information please contact:

Jana Tondi | Head of Language and Cultural Immersion | E-mail: | Telephone: +372 659 9069




Want to practise your Estonian? Register for our language cafés!


The Integration Foundation invites everyone who’s in need of encouragement to actively use their Estonian to attend our language cafés. Come and develop your listening and speaking skills and learn new words and expressions while discussing everyday issues in a relaxed environment.


The Integration Foundation has been running language cafés for three years. Experience has shown that participants quickly become bolder and more self-assured when talking about such topics as their travels, pets and hobbies. It doesn’t take long before they realise that they can get by in Estonian and that learning the language isn’t as difficult as they feared.


You can attend one of the language cafés in the following towns and cities: Tallinn, Maardu, Keila, Paldiski, Narva, Kohtla-Järve, Ahtme, Jõhvi, Kiviõli, Sillamäe or Püssi.


Taking part in the cafés is free of charge, but you do need to register online in advance at


Note: You can attend the language cafés up to 15 times over the coming year-and-a-half.


More information about the cafés and how to register for them can be obtained by calling

800 9999 or e-mailing


The language cafés are financed via the European Social Fund project ‘Activities promoting integration in Estonian society’.



A cultural integration programme in Tartu kicks off in September
Learn about Estonian culture


This September, in cooperation with the International House Tartu we will start with a cultural programme for recently arrived foreigners and people of other ethnic backgrounds living in Estonia. The programme runs from September to November 2018 and explores Estonian culture from different perspectives.
“In Estonia, there are communities that do not feel very connected to each other, but a segregated society is vulnerable. To counteract the segregation, we need to know at least a bit about who are the people next to us. Our dynamic course opens different “doors” for experiencing Estonian culture – or rather, cultures,” says Nastja Pertsjonok, the director of International House Tartu.
The programme consists of five training days and five study visits, which give participants an insight into Estonian contemporary life, main historical processes, symbolic cultural objects and nature. The programme also includes diverse workshops.
“Estonian National Museum is home to Estonian culture, we carry the fundamental values of the nation, and stand for the continuity,” says Virve Tuubel, the programme manager at Estonian National Museum. “Estonian National Museum also has the world´s biggest Fenno-Ugric collection. Museum´s new building and the expositions are the perfect meeting point for people and cultures!”
The participants will also be able to share their culture, widen their networks and learn the stories of people who have come to live in Estonia.
The programme runs twice a week from September to November and the participants can choose between several time slots. In 2018, the programme will host 150 participants in total.  Participation is free of charge.
More information and registration here.
The programme also invites Estonian volunteers to participate, share their view on Estonian culture, and learn about other cultures. For volunteering, please contact the museum via

Further information from the Educational Centre of the museum:

The Integration Foundation funds the programme through the European Social Fund’s project “Activities supporting integration in Estonian society”. The Estonian National Museum, the International House Tartu and the Society of Friends of the Estonian National Museum carry out the programme.




App planned to help people practise Estonian


The “Let’s Speak in Estonian, Please!” project is developing new opportunities to boost the confidence of speakers of the language at lower levels to communicate in Estonian.


The project presents a challenge to those who are learning and want to speak the language but lack the courage to do so. It is not the case that people are not speaking Estonian because there are not enough courses: they are not speaking the language because... they are not speaking it. They do not have anyone to speak the language with, or they lack the courage to try. The average ‘normal Estonian’ does not put up with error-riddled Estonian for long when they hear it – they either break off the conversation or switch to Russian or English.


We are asking disabled people, those with reduced capacity for work, pensioners, students and those temporarily at home with their children whether they have more time and patience to speak in Estonian. If they do, we can offer them our help and attention in return. We hope to get shops, cafés and banks involved that are prepared to speak to their clients in Estonian warmly, patiently and consistently. We will create a registration list and then a new app that will bring people together. There is no reason why people who speak languages other than Estonian and disabled people and pensioners who speak Estonian as their first language could not be of help to one another, whether face to face, over Skype or over the phone. In this way, the skills of those taking part in spoken Estonian could well grow at a rapid rate.


The project comprises the programming of the language practice app with a geo-search feature, a public media campaign and survey of the target group (a questionnaire with which pairs can be matched up based on language, how and where they wish to practise, which channels they prefer to use, their needs and their interests) and inclusion in social life and cultural events. Estonians with reduced capacity for work could be reached via the network of the Board of Disabled People, the Unemployment Insurance Fund and the Helpific platform, while the support of the Ministry of Social Affairs would add a network of volunteers.


We are looking for friends to help with Estonian language practice: those who are only just learning it and those who speak it as their mother tongue. Join us on Facebook at and be one of the first to use the app.


On cooperation-related matters, e-mail or call +372 56 65 822.




Want to get to grips with Estonian culture? Take your first ‘Culture Step’!


The Estonian Institute, which to date has primarily promoted Estonian culture abroad, is launching a new project in September entitled ‘Culture Step’ – a series of study trips, lectures and discussions for less-integrated residents and immigrants in Tallinn and Harju County.


Estonian Institute CEO Katrin Maiste says it is becoming increasingly clear that people living in Estonia who speak other languages also need information related to culture. “You only truly get to know what Estonians’ lives are like and the way they think about things by experiencing it yourself – making bread, hiking in a bog and singing Estonian songs,” she said.


A total of 300 people are being invited to take part in the project, which will launch this September and continue into next year. Each participant will attend five study trips and training sessions. The Estonian Institute’s partners in the project are local cultural and civic organisations (including the Estonian Open Air Museum, the Museum of Estonian Architecture, the Museum of Tallinn, Estonishing Evenings and Linnalabor) and Estonian volunteers. Should you wish to register as a volunteer, please e-mail


Registration for the ‘Culture Step’ Russian-language group is open at and for the English-language group at


The project is being financed via the European Social Fund project ‘Activities promoting integration in Estonian society’.


For further information please contact:

Valeria Mihhailova | E-mail: (Russian)

Lea Kreinin | E-mail: (English)




Need a shot of courage to take the citizenship exam?

If you’re at least 18 years old and you don’t have Estonian citizenship, you’re welcome to register for a two-day preparatory course for the state citizenship exam.


The courses will be held in Tallinn, Jõhvi, Narva and Tartu. Information about the programme is available online at or by calling +372 5660 4379. The courses are being run by Paurman & Partnerid Õigusbüroo OÜ and the Estonian Entrepreneurship University of Applied Sciences in cooperation with the Integration Foundation.

The organisers are promising an in-depth and enjoyable course culminating in a fun excursion.


More than 100 people took part in the courses in the first half of 2018, many of whom not only went on to take the citizenship exam, but passed it with flying colours! Those who have taken part in the course said it gave them the shot of courage and self-confidence they needed to take the exam.

At the end of the course the participants visited the Estonian National Museum in Tartu, where they enjoyed the displays on national history and culture.




New director for Implementation Centre

Overseeing the day-to-day running of the Implementation Centre since 5 July has been Veronika Stepanova.


Veronika is a law graduate who joined the Legal Information Centre for Human Rights in 1999. She then dedicated 14 years of her life to the city of Narva-Jõesuu and Vaivara municipality, where she led self-governing agency offices and played an active role in the planning and implementation of local government administrative reforms. She is currently furthering her education at the University of Tartu.


As the director of the Integration Foundation’s Implementation Centre Veronika is tasked with coordinating the work of the centre, contributing to the assessment process in competitions and procurements and monitoring the fulfilment of contracts.



Who is the director of the Estonian Language Centre in Tallinn?


Taking up the post of director of the Estonian Language Centre in Tallinn on 1 August was Olga Selištševa. Hailing from Lasnamäe in Tallinn, Olga taught Estonian to Russian-speaking students and led a class at Tõnismäe Science School prior to joining the Integration Foundation.

Olga considers education, both formal and non-formal, her life’s calling. She is drawn to modern approaches to teaching and learning that involve games, open communication, studying outside the classroom and more. She had a hand in the establishment of the Open School and continues to support her old colleagues by instructing hobby groups and through other activities. She promotes volunteering among her students and she herself contributes to a number of voluntary initiatives, the biggest being the ideas conference TEDxLasnamäe, in the organisation of which she plays a central role.

She is a seasoned traveller, eagerly exploring the globe, but love of her job always brings her back home again.



Who is the director of the Estonian Language Centre in Narva?


Taking up the post of director of the Estonian Language Centre in Narva on 1 August was Aljona Kordontšuk. Aljona is Narva born and bred, having been raised, educated and employed in the border city.

Aljona graduated from Narva Language Lyceum (then Narva Secondary School of Humanities) in 2002 before continuing to study Estonian in Viljandi, from which she returned with skills in the language and a love for her country, its language and its culture. In 2012 she completed further studies at Narva College of the University of Tartu, alongside which she worked as an Estonian language teacher.

As the head of the Estonian Language Centre in Narva Aljona is responsible for working with her team to ensure that people living in Ida-Viru County have more opportunities to learn Estonian and grow more aware of what is happening in the country.