An interview with young people from Tallinn

Interview conducted in Taizé in May 2024 with Matilda, Mihkel, Jaagup, Luukas and Marge - four students and a teacher from Kaarli Kool secondary school in Tallinn.

1/ What is the most beautiful/interesting place in Estonia?
  • • Mihkel: The Tallinn skyline over the bay that I see each morning coming from my Viimsi home to the city centre.
  • • Marge: The Meenikunno swamp.
  • • Jaagup: The first thing that comes to mind is the sea, because it’s just so beautiful. Another place that comes to mind is Nõva, in Läänemaa district. The nature there is beautiful and there are a lot of forest trails to walk on. It also has the oldest wooden church in the mainland of Estonia that was built by fishermen after they were saved from a terrible storm at sea, and their prayer was heard.
  • • Luukas: For me I think it would be the Hiiumaa island. It has beautiful nature and stunning beaches. It’s not only the case in summer. When the winter is cold enough and there’s enough ice, one can drive over the sea from Rohuküla port to Heltermaa port. It’s also a very interesting experience to travel through the ice on a ferry.
  • • Matilda: Kuressaare on Saaremaa island. It’s a bit like home because my roots are from there. Most of the island is covered with forest, so in winter time everything is very pretty and the locals like to have snow fights.

2/ What is the most meaningful place in Tallinn? Why?
  • • Marge : Roterman quarter. A new district build in old factories with stylish modern architecture apartments, offices, boutiques…
  • • Jaagup: The obvious answer is the Tallinn old town, because it’s so beautiful and cool. The old town is so well preserved that walking around in it is like going back in time. You could explore for hours. Another answer would be the Reidi tee « promenade ». It’s a nice walk by the sea, where you can also watch the ferries come to/ leave Tallinn and there is a beautiful view of the Tallinn skyline at the end. Also from there you could easily go to the beautiful Kadrioru park.
  • • Luukas: I would also agree with Jaagup that a sight to behold is the Tallinn old town. With its interesting history and the ghost stories that come along with it. Another magnificent sight to see would be to go to the viewing platforms that overlook Tallinn. Also somewhere to go in the old town would be the different parks and gardens like Taani kuninga aed or Vanalinn and three bronze monks with a height of 2.5 meters are standing in the King of Denmark Garden: Ambrosius the “Waiting Monk”, Bartholomeus the “Praying Monk” and Claudius, the “Observing Monk”. The statues are supplemented by a light solution and an information board on the city wall. Many ghost stories are attached to them.
  • • Mihkel : The home beach and the city skyline that I have seen since my first years.
  • • Matilda: Kadriorg palace, our president’s official house. And it has a really pretty park around it. It also has a cool art museum nearby. 

3/ What is the most beautiful cultural creation of Estonian people throughout their history and today?
  • • All students together : Song festival and also handycraft.
  • • Mihkel : Independence day parade on 24 of February.
  • • Luukas: For me I first think of the song festival as well but another really beautiful thing happens on the 24th of February, our independence day. People from all over Tallinn and some from further away come, really early in the morning, when the sun is about to rise, to the Pikk Hermann tower to see the flag raised alongside the rising sun. During the raising of the flag everyone there sings the national anthem. The whole thing takes about 40 minutes and includes the reading of the manifest of independence and singing more patriotic songs. It really creates a sense of community and belonging to see fellow citizens come together and celebrate.
  • • Jaagup: Our Sauna culture. When you go to the sauna cleans your body, but it also cleans your soul. It’s a place where you can talk with other people with confidence, but also a place where you can sit in silence and be with your own thoughts. There used to be a competition: who stays longer in the sauna? The record is an Estonian who stayed 16 minutes in a sauna with 140°C temperature and water poured on the hot stones every 30 seconds. Usually the optimal temperature is 70-90°C. An Estonian company has developed igloo-saunas which are sold all over the world.
  • • Matilda: We also have an ice plunge culture which is usually done right after coming out of the sauna to shock our bodies. I also think the Baltic Chain is a very powerful thing and plays a big role in our culture and life to this day.
  • • Mihkel : Another unique cultural creation of our people is our infamous “Kalevipoeg”, the central hero of estonian folklore. “Kalevipoeg” is a strong and courageous figure, often depicted as a giant, who embarked on epic quests and battles against supernatural foes to protect his people. Since Kalevipoeg is such an epic hero, I feel like most Estonian boys try to be like him. Wich immensely supports and preserves our culture.

4/ What would Estonia like to contribute and share to build a common future in culture, science, technology?
  • • Luukas: Bolt was founded in Estonia by two brothers, Markus and Martin Villig. So far, Estonia has been the birthplace of 10 unicorns (companies that are worth more than 1 billion dollars): Skype, Playtech, Wise, Bolt, Pipedrive, Zego, ID.me and Gelato, Veriff and Glia.
  • • Matilda: Self driving buses that are on our university campuses. 
  • • Jaakup : Pipedrive web application and mobile app is a sales customer relationship management tool. The company has more than 1,000 employees in its eight offices across Europe and two offices in the US. It is used by over 100,000 customers around the world.
  • • Marge : Robot deliveries. People help the robots in winter time when they get stuck in snow or when they are confused and do not manage to cross the street.
  • • Mihkel : Estonians are known to be the most innovative people in EU. We have 1090 start-ups per million inhabitants. Personally, I would like to enrich our country by building myself and being myself. I want also to become a renowned figure in the world. Being recognised is one thing, but what is even more important is to be respected. I want my people to be proud of me. My mission : inspire, teach and grow all the time until the end of my days.

5/ What are the most important challenges of young people today in Estonia?
  • • Mihkel : Personally it has been school and even more important, finding myself. Until now what I have been struggling with is being myself and building my own identity.
  • • Jaagup: I think a pretty big problem for a lot of young people in Estonia is addiction. A lot of young people get addicted to things that aren’t good for them (like nicotine or alcohol) at a very young age.
  • • Matilda: Anxiety, depression, and addiction are something that most young people suffer from today. Mostly because people feel the need to be excellent in a variety of fields and they can’t set their focus on one thing only to master it.
  • • Several students : fear of the war.
  • • Luukas: A current challenge is the change in the education system, especially for the Russian speaking population (26 % of the total population) because politicians want to go fully to learning in Estonian. There also was recently an article about Russian parents complaining that they aren’t able to help the children with schoolwork, because it’s in an unknown language for them. and there are not enough Estonian-speaking teachers.

6/ Who are the people around you who are a light because their make life beautiful for others?
  • • Jaagup: My family. They are always there when I need them. They always support me, no matter what I do.
  • • Matilda: My sisters, they are always there to listen to me. I am not scared to share with them. They know what to say and when to say it. 
  • • Marge. My church people. As I am the only Christian in my family it more my church that I can share life with.
  • • Luukas: For me I would first think of my siblings. Because I am the eldest, I am able to support them and I live with the mentality that I make memories with them and I want them to remember me as loving and caring. We also have had a lot of fun and great memories with each other.
  • • Mihkel. My two brothers. They can become friends with every one. They could even make a Christian and a Satanist talk together.

7/ If Jesus would come today in Tallinn who are the people he would visit in priority to proclaim his hope, healing and freedom?
  • • Several voices : He would go to Lastnamae and he would visit the boat with the thousands refugees from Ukraine
  • • Jaagup: I think he would go to Tammsaare park. A lot of people pass through there and also a lot of young people hang out around there.
  • • Matilda: I see him going to Kopli to help all the addicts and homeless. A lot of people who struggle are found there. 
Last updated: 31 May 2024