ERR News – “In and Out of Estonia’s Doors,” a new book by the University of Tartu’s ethics center, describes the emergence of a new generation of people living abroad who have Estonian roots but no longer have ties to Estonian culture or language.
One of the project’s initiators, the ethics center’s director Margit Sutrop, said Estonia must quickly find ways to bridge the gap with those who have moved abroad.
The book was inspired by an event of the same name as the title, held in 2011 by President Toomas Hendrik Ilves. The event called on people who had lived abroad to write in about their experiences. Sutrop and others are most concerned about those who have departed on a bitter note, without the desire to return.
“In short, most of the reasons for leaving are tied to people’s perceptions of a good quality of life and the hope of finding fortune somewhere else,” Sutrop said.
“The attitude that ‘if everyone else is going, why shouldn’t I?’ is most common among the younger generation. If the living conditions that are here do not meet the very high expectations that today’s young people have, then they are sure to put themselves to the test.”
Sutrop expressed concern over the generation of parents who, for one reason or another, are not teaching their children Estonian or about Estonia. This often occurs in families where one parent is not from Estonia, she noted.
“It will become difficult for this generation to return to Estonia because they don’t speak the language that would allow them to adapt here, make friends, continue their studies and find work,” Sutrop said.
“Parents actually carry a very big responsibility in determining whether children who live abroad for some period of time have the same kind of involvement in Estonian culture and society.”