Prantslane eestlaste seas, episood 1
Le Mans-Hiiumaa : 3000 km, A Frenchman among Estonians, Episode 1
My name is Hugues, I am 23 years old, and I come from Le Mans, a French city famous for its car race, the 24 Hours of Le Mans. And less known for its old but wonderful town. Before leaving, I was a journalist in the local press, in Ouest-France, the largest newspaper in France. Every day I wrote political, cultural, judicial articles…It was the end of my contract and I wanted to do something else. Passionate about theater, music, circus and engaged in a house of youth and culture, I wanted to go abroad. And doing a European voluntary service has been important to me for a long time. To say that I had thought of Estonia would be lying. I took the proposal from the House of Europe. This is how I became volunteer in the youth center of Kärdla, Hiiumaa’s capital.
“The goal is : 20 estonian words every day !”
As soon as I arrive in Estonia, I have to learn a new language. Unknown. Totally unknown. It does not look like French ! The advantage is that you have to start from the beginning. To question yourself. It is with a certain enthusiasm that I learn Estonian, a language spoken by a million people. I have the goal to leard 20 words every day. And I hope to be able to have a conversation with an Estonian, before the end of my volunteering. The second thing that strikes is the brightness. A natural light that pierces the trees. Then there is the climate. But what an idea to arrive in October! I am quickly made to understand that I missed the most beautiful days of the year. In Estonia, summers are endless, some days culminating in 20 hours of sunshine. But winters are also endless. At the time I write these lines, the sun goes down, it is only 16h.
“Estonia, the country of the clean air”
And then, there are the landscapes and the air we breathe. At first, they do not have much in common. In fact, half of the Estonian territory is covered by an endless forest of trees. These endless coniferous forests represent the air we breathe. My conclusion is…The big spaces, that would be Estonia.
My activity at the youth center is to offer activities with young people. I started to teach some young people to do circus, junggle.. And maybe, to reveal some talents…I find that young Estonians are very respectful. The use of “palun” is very common. Wednesday, we went hiking in the forest at night. It was a first for me. And the sky was so clear that you could see the milky way.
These first days have allowed me especially to take my marks. But I have a lot of ideas. I will soon set up a circus workshop, a percussion workshop, (I had to do it last week but there was nobody,) a
French language learning workshop, and a Breton cooking workshop ! I immediately appreciated that I am allowed a lot of freedom.
In summary, after three weeks of Estonian life, I want more. I still have so much to discover from this fabulous country. At first sight, Estonians will not offer you the brightest smile, except Hiiumaa, of course! But once the language barrier has passed, you will find a deeply good people. And to conclude, I was surprised to see that Estonians are waiting for the green light to cross the road. This is not the case at all in France !!
Viva Kärdla, viva Hiiumaa, viva Estonia !!
Hugues, A Frenchman among Estonians, 1st episode
Projekti toetab SA Archimedese noorteagentuur Erasmus+ programmist.