BaltHerNet youth seminars have become a reliable presence in Baltic diaspora research over the past five years. In November a small but significant jubilee took place in the North-Estonian countryside – Kuusalu became the stage for the 20th youth seminar.
The location was chosen to further enrich the geographical and institutional diversity that youth seminars are known for. In the past these gatherings where young minds can test their ideas with a friendly forum of junior and senior colleagues have taken place in different memory institutions located in Tallinn, Riga, Vilnius, Tartu and Kaunas. Kuusalu is not even a city, but it does have something unique to offer. A few years ago it became home to a small but unique archival collection and an accompanying book collection created by Väino Esken – an Estonian who spent most of his adult life in Sweden.
The first presentation of the day focused on the contents and history of the fund which is now part of Kuusalu library. Director Elle Ots not only discussed the intricacies of the project but also showcased some of the more unique features of the collection. Film director Jaanis Valk was the next to present. He talked about his latest documentary project which is focused on an Estonian world-traveller Ahto Walter. Jaanis walked the listeners through his research process which has led him from Estonia to The United Kingdom, Canada, US Virgin Islands, and South Africa.
The seminar was topped off by a movie session at the Kuusalu Cinema Society. The cosy but diverse group of seminar participants enjoyed Elen Lotman’s documentary “Andy Stands Up” which is centred around a San Francisco Estonian stand-up comedian Andy Valvur’s first show in his native land. After that it was time to enjoy a set of archival footage from the vaults of the Estonian Film Archive. All of the clips were tied in with Estonian diaspora issues and spanned from the inter war period until 1989.