Bay Area Estonians’ EV102. Photo by Vaido Vald.
On Saturday, February 22nd, Bay Area Estonians gathered again to celebrate Estonia’s independence. One hundred and two years after Estonia first declared its freedom, guests at Plug and Play Tech Center in Sunnyvale were greeted with a program that reflected ongoing activities and new developments in the Bay Area Estonian community, as well as visitors from Canada and Estonia.
Consuls with current and past San Francisco Estonian Society leaders (L to R: Lisa Trei, Mai-Liis Bartling, Consul Kairi Pirk-Vatunen, Head Consul Ann Hänni, Tõnu Viitas, Estonian Society founding member Rutt Sootaru). Photo by Tõnu Viitas
Head Consul Ann Hänni of the Consulate General of Estonia in San Francisco introduced herself and her colleague, Consul Kairi PirkVatunen, and Estonia’s new outpost on the west coast.
Hänni addressed the mission and scope of the consulate’s work. Its main roles are to provide consular services to Estonian citizens and to promote cultural and business ties locally.
Some limited services are already available; however full services will be on hold until the consulate moves from a temporary location on the Embarcadero to its permanent location downtown, later this year.
The evening’s main entertainment came from Valter Soosalu, a young rock musician, singer, and choir conductor, who may be best known for conducting Kadri Voorand’s composition “Ära mind lahti lase” at the 2019 Laulupidu.
San Francisco Estonian Community Choir, photo credit Vaido Vald
Soosalu entertained the audience with tidbits about his musical life in Estonia, in between songs which he accompanied himself with the unique harpejji stringed instrument.
Both Estonian and English-speaking audience members were engaged by his warm and humorous performance.
Also on the program was an update about the International Estonian Centre in Toronto from Tom Koger, independent adviser to the project, and Alar Kongats, the center’s architect. The pair shared the progress and plans for this ambitious undertaking, a joint project by multiple Toronto Estonian organizations.
The San Francisco Estonian Community Choir, directed by Crista Berryessa and accompanied by Mati Otsmaa, also performed several songs, including “Üksi pole keegi” from last summer’s Laulupidu in Tallinn.
The evening was hosted by the San Francisco Estonian Society, Enterprise Estonia Silicon Valley, and Korp! Vironia Lääneranniku Koondis. It ended with a festive reception that gave attendees a chance to mix, meet old friends, and make new contacts, all in the spirit of celebrating Estonia’s freedom with continued friendship among Estonians of all generations in the Bay Area.
Photo by Vaido Vald
For more information about the San Francisco Estonian Society, and to follow our 70th anniversary this year, visit our new website (www.sfestonians.org).