EAM in Tallinn 2014

EAM – The EAM (European Alumni Meeting) is a European get together for Up with People alumni from all over the world. It is held every year in a location in Europe and is mostly held during April or May. Main goals of the EAM are getting updates about Up with People, have a great time with your friends, make new ones and discover a city the way you have never done before. One of the additional goals for EAM Tallinn team was to have more Estonian students in UWP program in coming years and to see an UWP cast perform and get involved in communities in Estonia again. We can now say that things are looking really good with those additional goals, so let’ s keep our fingers crossed.
Simply put, EAM is a time to enjoy with fellow UWP alumni. Also during Tallinn EAM the Board of Governors (BOG) of Up with People Alumni Association (UWPIAA) held one of their meetings here. It was important for Tallinn because being in quite the remote part of Europe many of them had never been here before and arrived from as far as the United States and New Zealand. It was a time when the Ukraine war issues were particularly hot and we took the time also to talk about that and the historic background of Estonia and explain to the BOG members what the situation is like for us and how we live over here. Everyone is always positively surprised because coming from West people seem to think that this is a remote corner of the world, which it absolutely is not. And they find that we are actually more innovative in many areas than the “old world”.
During EAM we offered activities for all tastes! We took a tour to the Estonian Parliament, got to sit on the seats of the Parliament members and got a history lesson from Estonian politician Eerik-Niiles Kross and a welcome also from Urmas Reinsalu who was the Minister of Defense of Estonia at the time. After the visit we performed a “sit circle” at the Parliament courtyard – now that was so UWP and brought back nostalgic memories for everyone.
We had a blast in the evening at Kaval-Antsu event venue near the hotel where we “danced the night away”! And not just danced, we had a personal dance instructor – Jalmar Vabarna – an amazing Estonian folk enthusiast who collected some 6 prizes at Estonian Music Awards in 2015. We probably could not afford to hire him today! His music went with our people to Europe – many really liked the folk-flavored music of his band Curly Strings. Our own boys, the Estonian EAM team members pulled off a great surprise to us, performing a folk dance! Dancers of folk group SÕLEKE performed to us as well and that was simply breathtakingly beautiful.
We also held meetings of UWP, discussed important issues, formed a co-operative relationship between UWPIAA and our Chamber of Goodwill.
We also offered a variety of CI (community involvement) opportunities. Some people helped out at a JUKS center for disabled youth where our people managed to do some heavy-duty gardening – extra sets of strong hands came in very handy for the JUKS crew. Technology enthusiasts could visit the technology center Mektory. Culture and history were experienced at KUMU (Estonian Art Museum) and KGB Museum. Later on we offered a guided tour to the old town Tallinn with an opportunity to have your photos taken by a professional photographer.
We ended the fun-filled days with a Saturday Night Fever themed banquet at the hotel on the last evening. Rocked with a cool local band, shared memories, created new friendships and just had a great time. Last but not least also had a “Skype bridge” with a traveling UWP cast. What a blast! By the way, did you know that Skype was originally invented in Estonia?