Archive for January, 2012


[UPDATE (Jan. 12, 2012): A link to two KLENK 2011 photo galleries located on the Estonian National Association of South Florida (Lõuna Florida Eestlaste Koondis) web site has been added to this article. Links to many of the authors’ presentations also were added today. Please continue reading.]

Setting the record for attendance in the 21st Century, 150 participants responding to the invitation to share their love of Estonia and Estonian culture attended KLENK’s annual Sõpruspäevad and conference in St. Petersburg, Florida’s Magnuson Hotel Marina Cove Conference Center, January 6 and 7, 2012. Co-hosted by the Estonian Society of Central Florida (Kesk Florida Eesti Selts) and the Estonian National Association of South Florida (Lõuna Florida Eestlaste Koondis) and held outside its traditional Midwestern location at a new time of year, old and new friends came together from 15 states (from Florida to Washington and New York to California), Canada and Estonia, and students from Augsburg and Geislingen reunited.

Geislingen students reunite at KLENK 2011 Photo: Maare Kuuskvere

The program was tihe (jam packed). For the first time, sessions were offered mostly in English. Planning Committee members decided it was important to be inclusive to our non-English speaking spouses and friends. They also tested the hypothesis that English might draw participants from KLENK’s next generation, and it did.

KLENK 2011 Program Presenters: (front row, l to r) Kersti Linask, Lisa Mets, Sirje Kiin, Carina Diamond; (second row, l to r) Taavo Virkhaus, Nelli Vahter, Carl Orav, Monika Orumaa, Arno Kallas, Arne Kalm, Ain Haas. Missing: Linda Einpaul, Loit Maripuu, Tonu Toomepuu, Helve and Heiki Parts, Juri Toomepuu, Eric Sibul, January 7, 2012 Photo: Tiit Treude

To view two amazing collections of photographs of KLENK 2011, taken by the very talented Monica Kallas, please visit the photo gallery posted on the web site of the Estonian National Association of South Florida (Lõuna Florida Eestlaste Koondis (LFEF)). Please click on this link to be re-directed to the LFEK photo galleries:Lõuna Florida Eestlaste Koondis KLENK 2011 Photo Galleries.

To give KLENK 2011 participants time to travel to this new Florida location, Friday was planned as a travel day. The KLENK 2011 Planning Committee scheduled KLENK 2011’s official opening at 5:00 pm, Friday afternoon, January 6, 2012. Lisa Mets, KLENK 2011 Planning Committee chair, launched KLENK 2011 with welcoming remarks. The remarks celebrated KLENK 2011 — in 2012; with KLENK’s 54th program in its 53rd year. Yes, the numbers are right.

The stage is set for KLENK 2011 Photo: Lisa Mets

Lisa Mets, KLENK 2011 Planning Committee Chair, launches KLENK 2011 Photo: Erkki Taada

Õp. Nelli Vahter, Linda Einpaul, Loit Maripuu and Lisa Mets officially opened KLENK Friday evening with a memorial program honoring KLENK founders who passed away in 2011: Gunnar Auksi, Urve Auksi and Reet Ülper Maripuu. Their spirit and legacy inspired the weekend.

Loit Maripuu remembers Reet Ülper Maripuu at KLENK 2011's memorial program honoring Gunnar Auksi, Urve Auksi and Reet Ülper Maripuu Photo: Maare Kuuskvere

Two themes provided the framework for Saturday’s lectures and theatrical skit. Views and Experiences of Estonian Americans and Estonians in America in Light of 20 Years of Estonian Independence shaped the morning’s presentations; the afternoon’s presentations highlighted topics that are Distinctively Estonian. KLENK 2011 Planning Committee Chair Lisa Mets introduced the framework and laid the stage for each speaker through her introductions.

Lisa Mets, KLENK 2011 planning committee chair, lays the framework and introductions for Saturday's speakers Photo: Tiit Treude

A welcome from the presidents of the two Florida Estonian associations started Saturday morning’s program. Tõnu Toomepuu brought greetings from the Estonian Society of Central Florida (Kesk Florida Eesti Selts), which organized all arrangements. Arno Kallas brought greetings from the Estonian National Association of South Florida (Lõuna Florida Eestlaste Koondis).

Tõnu Toomepuu, President of the Estonian Society of Central Florida Photo: Tiit Treude

Arno Kallas, President of the Estonian National Association of South Florida Photo: Tiit Treude

Saturday morning’s academic program began with an engaging conversation on Responses to the 2011 Survey by the Estonian American National Council (Eesti Rahvuskomitee Ühendriikides), led by ERKÜ members Monika Orumaa, Kersti Linask, and Arne Kalm (the chair of ERKÜ’s new strategic planning committee). An article from the Estonian American National Council (Eesti Rahvuskomitee Ühendrikkes (ERKÜ)) is forthcoming.

Arne Kalm, Chair of ERKÜ's strategic planning committee Photo: Lisa Mets

Arne Kalm, Chair of ERKÜ's strategic planning committee Photo: Tiit Treude

Kersti Linask on the ERKÜ survey results Photo: Tiit Treude

Monika Orumaa on the ERKÜ survey results Photo: Tiit Treude

Professor Ain Haas then shared his research findings built on interviews with Välis-eestlased (Estonian émigrés) who are returning to live in Estonia. The audience was fascinated by the interviewees’ colorful reports of their experiences. Ain Haas’s information in English and Estonian can be found through these three links:
Translation of “Läänest tulnute ootused, üllatused, soovitused” [Expectations, Surprises, and Recommendations of Those Coming from the West]
Tables from Baltic Migration Study
Läänest tulnute ootused, üllatused ja soovitused

Ain Haas on Estonian emigres returning to Estonia Photo: Lisa Mets

Providing excellent advice to members of the audience—for themselves and their family members—financial planner, wealth advisor and Worth columnist Carina Diamond encouraged everyone to reflect on their retirement plans. This session provided a rare opportunity for individuals to hear from a financial planner on retirement planning.

Carina Diamond addresses retirement planning Photo: Tiit Treude

Maintaining the program’s fast pace over lunch, editor Carl Orav presented the outline of his new book recently released in English in the United States and Estonian in Estonia, We Were Estonian Soldiers: World War II exploits of classmates from the Estonian Military Technical Academy. Carl’s presentation was well received as evidenced by the book sales that followed his session. Click on this link to view the outline of Carl Orav’s remarks: We Were Estonian Soldiers.

Carl Orav (back to the camera) addresses the lunch audience on his new book Photo: Lisa Mets

Sirje Kiin, the 2011 prize winning author recognized by the Marie Under and Artur Adson Memorial Foundation, kicked off the afternoon’s lectures with her insight into Marie Under, Estonia’s esteemed poet who sadly was never recognized with a Nobel Prize in literature. The outline of Sirje Kiin’s remarks can be found through this link to her presentation slides: Marie Under: Why Didn’t She Win a Nobel Prize?

Ms. Kiin also continues to be a columnist for Elukiri, which is published monthly in Estonia. Ms. Kiin’s February 2012 column mentions her impressions from KLENK 2011: Kiri Ameerikast.

Sirje Kiin on Marie Under Photo: Lisa Mets

Sirje Kiin on Marie Under Photo: Tiit Treude

Linda Einpaul introduced the program’s next speaker, Taavo Virkhaus, Conductor Emeritus of the Huntsville (AL) Symphony Orchestra. With the visual aid of DVDs, Taavo captivated the audience with three brilliant musical segments showing him conducting the Eesti Riiklik Sümfooniaorkester in 1988, 1990 and 1994.

Linda Einpaul introduces Taavo Virkhaus Photo: Tiit Treude

Taavo Virkhaus Photo: Tiit Treude

In Estonian, Helve and Heiki Parts presented The Flower Vendor as a theatrical interlude. The skit needed no translation and absolutely charmed everyone.

Helve and Heiki Parts offer their theatrical skit, "The Flower Vendor" Photo: Lisa Mets

Heiki and Helve Parts in their theatrical skit, The Flower Vendor Photo: Tiit Treude

Heiki and Helve Parts in their theatrical skit, The Flower Vendor Photo: Tiit Treude

Heiki and Helve Parts in their theatrical skit, The Flower Vendor Photo: Tiit Treude

In response to media stories about recent survey results of Estonians and their views on religion, Jüri Toomepuu explored the elements of maausk, including its translation. This link leads to the full text of Jüri Toomepuu’s remarks: Maausk, the belief system of indigenous Estonians.

Jüri Toomepuu on maausk Photo: Lisa Mets

Pulling the day’s themes together into one–An Estonian American working in Estonia at a unique institution situated in Estonia– Eric Sibul closed the afternoon with his lecture on highlights from the Baltic Defence College. Slides outlining Eric Sibul’s presentation may be viewed through this link: Highlights from the Baltic Defence College.

Eric Sibul on the Baltic Defence College Photo: Lisa Mets

The dinner programs Friday and Saturday evenings featured traditional Estonian folk music, folk dance, and sing-alongs. Highlights included performances by Siilikesed, Ain Haas’s Estonian and Latvian folk music group from Indianapolis; and Saare Vikat, New York’s folk dance group directed by Liisi Vanaselja. Chicago’s Estonian House’s folk dance teacher, Estonian Sirje Press, led audience participation in Perekonna Valss. Sing-alongs were led by vocalist Enn Kiilaspea, key boardist Taavo Virkhaus, and accordionist and force majeure for both evenings’ programs, Kaie Põhi Latterner.

Ain Haas discusses centuries of Estonian folk music Photo: Lisa Mets

Ain Haas plays the torupill Photo: Maare Kuuskvere

Selected instruments played by Siilikesed Photo: Lisa Mets

Siilikesed Photo: Lisa Mets

Siilikesed Photo: Lisa Mets

Siilikesed Photo: Lisa Mets

Saare Vikat, New York's Estonian Folk Dance Group directed by Liisi Vanaselja Photo: Maare Kuuskvere

Enn Kiilaspea, Taavo Virkhaus and Kaie Latterner lead sing-alongs Photo: Lisa Mets

Kaie Latterner leads the evening and the sing-alongs Photo: Lisa Mets

Ilse Meere and Kristi Allpere sing along with the music Photo: Lisa Mets

KLENK 2011 was honored to be joined by the Honorable Sten Schwede, Estonian Consul General in New York, and the recently appointed Honorary Consul in Atlanta, Aadu Allpere, and their family members. Planning Committee members felt privileged to be their hosts.

The Honorable Sten Schwede, Estonian Consul General in New York, addresses KLENK 2011, January 7, 2012, St. Petersburg, FL Photo: Lisa Mets

During Saturday’s dinner program, Peakonsul Schwede offered remarks and graciously recognized and thanked KLENK 2011 planning committee members Lisa Mets, who chaired the KLENK 2011 planning committee; and Maare Kuuskvere, Evi Kallas, Rein Raja and Tõnu Toomepuu, who served in the planning committee’s leadership positions.

Many attended the KLENK conference for their first time. Peakonsul Schwede’s participation in KLENK 2011 from its start Friday evening through its annual meeting on Sunday morning made all attendees feel they were part of something special.

Kringel by perenaised Maare Kuuskvere, Kersti Linask, Ingrid Shipotofsky and Malle Sibul Photo: Maare Kuuskvere

Piparkoogid by perenaised Leena Aare, Maare Kuuskvere and Lisa Mets Photo: Maare Kuuskvere

Indeed, the KLENK 2011 Planning Committee itself wanted everyone to feel special. Supplementing the morning coffee break was kringel baked by KFES members Maare Kuuskvere, Kersti Linask, Ingrid Shipotofsky and Malle Sibul. Leena Aare, Maare Kuuskvere and Lisa Mets baked piparkoogid for the afternoon break. Traditional Estonian rye bread was a deliciously wonderful surprise at dinner Saturday night. Tiiu Slankis and Norma Jean Rebane made the lovely floral centerpieces.

Monika Orumaa calls the winning loterii ticket Photo: Lisa Mets

Ingrid Shipotofsky and Monika Orumaa were in charge of this year’s KLENK loterii. The overflowing loterii tables gave the impression that everyone made a contribution! Thank you!

KLENK 2011 concluded with Sunday morning’s annual meeting. A record 30 participants provided excellent suggestions for future meetings and they took two actions. They voted to hold KLENK 2012 in Michigan and resolved to encourage KLENK, KFES, LFEK and ERKÜ to work together on future programs extending from the model introduced this weekend.

KLENK's annual meeting Photo: Lisa Mets

To bring KLENK 2011 to a close and to express her appreciation to planning committee members, program presenters and annual meeting participants, KLENK 2011 planning committee chair Lisa Mets hosted a champagne reception outside her hotel room on a point overlooking Tampa Bay and the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. The clear blue sky and 73 degrees temperature provided the perfect ending to a wonderful conference.

The KLENK 2011 committee chair's thank-you reception closes KLENK 2011 Photo: Lisa Mets

KLENK 2011 was made possible through these generous sponsors: Eckerd College, Estonian American National Council (ERKÜ), Estonian Society of Central Florida (KFES), Estonian National Association of South Florida (LFEK), and the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church of Central Florida (E.E.L.K.-Kesk Florida). Jaan and Maare Kuuskvere and Lisa and Erkki Taada were private sponsors. Saare Vikat was generously supported by the NY Eesti Abistamiskomitee.

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Dear KLENK 2011 Registrants,

Happy New Year! Head uut aastat!

The KLENK 2011 Planning Committee and program presenters are looking forward to your arrival at the Magnuson Hotel Marina Cove, St. Petersburg, Florida, this week. Here is some information you may find helpful.

1. Some of you will be checking into the hotel Thursday afternoon, January 5, 2012. The KLENK 2011 Planning Committee would like you to know about the following two opportunities on Thursday evening.

a. The Salvador Dali Museum, located in downtown St. Petersburg, is open late on Thursday evenings and offers a reduced admission ($10) after 5:00 pm. That is quite a good deal.

b. Some of us will be having dinner at The Hangar Restaurant and Flight Lounge at 5:00 pm on Thursday. The restaurant, with free and ample parking, is located across the street from the Dali. The menu is varied and reasonably priced, so it would be easy for you to have a quick dinner before going to the museum if you decide you would like to do so. Please send us an email–KLENKFlorida@gmail.com–to let us know if you would like us to keep an eye out for you in the restaurant.

2. The KLENK 2011 Planning Committee will look forward to welcoming you after 3:00 pm, Friday, January 6, 2012, in the Nautilus Room in the Conference Center, Magnuson Hotel Marina Cove. We will have name tags and songbooks/lauliks with the KLENK program/kava. Our program will start promptly at 5:00 pm in the Sand and Sun Rooms next to the Nautilus Room.

3. If you are bringing something for the loterii table–such as a book, CD, DVD, chocolate, eesti pärase asi, easily packable item, etc/jne–please pass it on to Ms. Ingrid Shipotofsky or Ms. Monika Orumaa when you arrive in the Conference Center Friday or Saturday. We are grateful for every donation to the loterii table; we will conduct the loterii on Saturday night.

4. If you are arriving on Saturday, please pick up your materials after 8:15 am in the lobby of the Conference Center. We will start the program promptly at 9:00 am. If you are arriving for the Saturday evening dinner program as your first event, please arrive at 6:00 pm.

5. If you are still in the hotel on Sunday morning, we hope you will join us for the KLENK annual business meeting. Plans for KLENK 2012 and future KLENKs will be discussed and your input will be valuable.

6. Weather: Well, the northerners sent a frigid jet stream down our way for the first time this winter so this week is off to a windy and chilly start. Weather forecasters are telling us in the 7-day forecast that we will have sunny days and be warming up 64 degrees on Friday and 69 degrees on Saturday. You can stay tuned to our extended weather forecast through this link: National Weather Service.

7. Clothing: Please feel free to wear business casual attire. That means men’s suits and ties are optional. Because of air conditioning and the cooler weather, men’s sports coats and ladies’ sweaters will be comfortable in the hotel. When the sun goes down, an overcoat will serve you well. Some KLENK members like to get dressed up on Saturday night, so feel free to follow that tradition if you like.

8. Photographs: We will be taking photographs throughout the conference and posting them on the web and sending them to Vaba Eesti Sõna afterwards. If you do not want to be included in any photos, please be sure to let us know.

9. For your convenience, the KLENK 2011 Program/Kava, updated January 3, 2012, is available here: KLENK 2011 Program/Kava, updated January 3, 2012. While nearly all Saturday lecture sessions are in English, Estonian may be spoken in Prof. Ain Haas’s lecture and the theatrical skit.

You may be breaking a record in attendance at KLENK: Over 140 individuals–from across the US and Canada–are pre-registered! Thank you so much for your overwhelming positive response to the KLENK 2011 program and location. We hope you enjoy the conference as much as we have enjoyed making the preparations.

Please feel free to send an email to KLENKFlorida@gmail.com with any questions you may have.

Safe travels! See you soon! Nägemiseni!

KLENK 2011 Planning Committee

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