Diary of volunteers in Laulupidu in Estonia
By 15 European Voluntary Service volunteers – Andrea (Hungary), Aneta (Bulgaria), Almudena (Spain), Beth (UK), Elvijs (Latvia), Erika (Hungary), Giulio (Italy), Juanjo (Spain), Juste (Lithuania), Kim (Sweden), Lelde (Latvia), Leo (France), Manuel (Austria), Stratos (Greece), Tony (France)
This week brought us many new experiences.
Monday June 8 - as the first day of a week, as the beginning of hard work, was more or less rest. In the morning we were split in two groups. Our leaders – Lii and Kadi – made us getting to know Tallinn and Estonians better. We were playing games, singing Estonian children songs and solving many kind of tasks in the city. It made lot of fun for us and gave us some new knowledge about the place we will be living in for two months.
All of us were waiting for the second day of this week, because it was the first visit to Song and Dance Foundation Office. For the first time we met our Hosting organisation and the people who invited us to come to Estonia. While Aive (representative of Song and Dance Foundation Office) was talking and telling us about the plans of the next weeks, we got our first task – we bended the envelopes for festival invitations to invited guests. We were introduced to the Office, to some of the people who are working for the Foundation Office and to the main aim of our Project.
Later the same day we had the first Estonian language lesson. First words in Estonian, first basic skills to communicate or at least understand something in that strange Northern language.
Tuesday June 9 - evening came with a really nice dinner. We went all together to the Olde Hansa located in the heart of Oldtown. Thanks to our mentors for such a nice dinner! Everyone will bring home only good memories from this evening. Lots of tasty food, big choice and very nice atmosphere.
Wednesday June 10. In the morning we had a nice activity outside of the Office. Kairi, our supervisor, took as to the Kalev Stadion, where the Dance Festival is taking place, and to the Lauluväljak, where Song Festival will go on. We saw two of the most important places for us, for our aim here in Tallinn.
In the afternoon we had a guest from the Estonian National Agency, Marit. The information we got from her interested all of us. Some knew something about European program Youth in Action and about possibilities that we can use in our life, but others didn’t know so much. It was one of the most useful times we have spent.
After lunch we had some more guests. There were three people comming to teach us some Estonian national dances. Some enjoyed that very much, some didn’t. But still it was nice to move a little bit after many hours sitting and listening to others. What a surprise, that dancing is not a thing we couldn’t do!
At 8 p.m. we all came together for an intercultural evening. It took many hours for everybody to tell something about their country, to show pictures, some videos and taste some snacks from other countries. Intercultural evening was only a beginning of a nice and funny night for all together in Oldtown.
Every week we have two free days. Usually they should be Saturday and Sunday, but because this Saturday we are going to visit Tartu, the second biggest Estonian city,
Thursday June 11. It was a holiday for us. Some of us rested, some had their private things to do, but mostly no concrete plans.
Friday June 12. It was an Estonian language day and a little bit of volunteering.
Saturday June 13 was an amazing adventure. It took only two hours to go to Tartu, but many, many hours to spend there. Unfortunately the weather was not the nicest. It was raining all day long. Until noon we escaped from the rain in a museum for an introduction of Estonian ethnographical music and music instruments. After lunch we could hide ourselves under a big tent in the main square of Tartu and listen for an excellent brass band concert. As soon as Kairi gave us the rain coats, we were ready to go to the Tartu Song Festival. The rain didn’t disturb us to enjoy a great song concert. After the concert everyone was very tired and some even fell asleep on our way back to Tallinn.
Sunday June 14 was a nice rest. We could sleep as long as we wished after the late arrival to Tallinn yesterday night.
In week three, many things were getting different. The on-arrival-training was officially over, the lunch was not provided anymore, so the volunteers had to take care for their lunch themselves and the actual work starts.
But the third week started chaotic, because it was planned to divide the people in three different groups. Each group had to help the Laulupidu office with some work with badges, wrist ribbons, billets and other stuff. Unfortunately there was way too less work and group number one worked too fast in the morning. So group number two had almost nothing to do and group three, who was supposed to come at 4.30 pm was free of charge. No one was really happy about it, especially Manuel, who came punctual to work.
So Continuous Action had to react and changed the schedule for the whole week.
Tuesday - we started with 3 hours of Estonian language and culture with our language teachers. As always it was a crude mixture of exercises and games, talking about language and culture. In the end the volunteers even received homework. In the afternoon we were talking about DEOR [Dissemination and Exploitation of Results] for the first time. This discussion was just a little overview of the things to come. All the promotional activities related to the project are part of this task. Dorus hang out a poster where people could write their ideas and contributions as well as possible actions [Actually this poster was never used…]
Wednesday - group three got finally their work in the Foundation office which made these people happy, especially Manuel, who came punctual to work [even 15 minutes earlier than the others]. On that day we had the huge “Posters to the city” – action. The three groups were walking to different groups of the city to give posters for the Laulupidu to hotels, cafes, bars and other public places.
Thursday - started with a double celebration: Manuel turned 22 on that day and Andrea turned 24 the weekend before. The whole group of volunteers visited the Open-Air-museum with our language teachers Kadi and Lii, who gave out another home-work. Also Elo went with us.
Friday – in the morning we had again three hours of language and culture. For the last time so we had to say goodbye to Kadi and Lii. As always - games and education. In the afternoon, the volunteers dug in deeper in DEOR and divided themselves into 3 groups – Web&Media, photo exhibition and cultural activities. On that afternoon these groups started with brainstorming and writing down dozens of ideas for upcoming actions.
Not a good interlude to the following week (week four): because this week was almost free because of Jaanipäev (national holiday of Estonia).
The fourth week was free till Thursday because of Jaanipäev (
Traditionally, Jaanipäev is the night you never sleep, so all of the people went out, a few went into the forest, others preferred to go to the beach. The only thing they had in common: it was a terribly long night. Of course, because it never gets really dark during these nights.
Thursday June 26- so, the people met again. To visit the KUMU art museum together with Elo and Ave. It was a great gallery with many impressive painting and sculptures.
Friday June 27- we talked about Youthpass first, the document we write at the end of the project. On that day we received our official black staff shirt (wear it with pride and honour!) along with a bag with info materials and our yellow wrist ribbon for entrance everywhere and free public transport during the festival days! Some guys could not wait and put on the shirt immediately. In the afternoon we got the schedule for the highly awaited festival week which brought many-many mixed emotions with it.
Sunday June 28- the festival week started already on Sunday, June 28. In the afternoon, the group of volunteers were working in Kalevi stadium, marking the spots where it was to celebrate the event. Placing visual signals of red and black on the lawn so that the dancers would know where they should be. A small group of volunteers cleared the ground and the edge of the area which was left to the dancers.
Monday June 29 – at 10, a group of volunteers worked the ground Kalevi stadium for the dance festival, similar to the previous day only this time in the field where it was going to celebrate the event. Put marks on the stage, black and blue served as a guide to members of dance groups. In the afternoon we had the day off.
Tuesday June 30 - at 8:30 in the morning a small group of volunteers, we continue our work. Once the work is completed in the field we began preparing the area around the stadium, putting banks at the highest point of the stands. A small group of volunteers, we were busy in the interior of the centre sports stadium Kalevi, placing tables and chairs for dance groups. Volunteers from
Wednesday July 1 - during the night a small group of volunteers were working in a different spot. In the port of sadam in a small grass field where it is planned to hold a smaller festival before the big dance festival Laulupidu. That same day, a small group of volunteers comprising Juanjo, Kim, Elvijs, Aneta, Lelde and Tony, thoroughly clean the area where the activity would take place the following day. Took turns work, rest and three other three with a rake weeds, beer cans and bottles that had broken on the floor. At noon there was a break in the terreeno to eat the food they brought us hot soup and a yoghurt from Estonian volunteers after the glorious food we started work again in terreeno. At the end we managed to pick up 9 sacks caergados leaf herbs and other things.
Thursday July 2 - on this day, at the beginning of the morning, three volunteers, Elvijs, Juanjo and Tony, were the team to work with the concert to be held in the central plaza and last until 10 pm. We started putting the chairs for the members of the bands, the tent roof early in the morning and later around noon volunteers that read, Stratos and Giulio came to the square to place benches to the public before the tent. Volunteers helping the group among the intermediates that were helping people to increase or decrease the instruments on stage or that some members in need for our help. At exactly noon, we left work and went to center stage where after the musicians left their instruments and received a well deserved meal which was hand out by Andrea and Erika to all members of the groups and the other volunteers who participated in the concert and after lunch we continued with our stuff. Up to six in the afternoon Giulio and Stratos continued to work to help musicians with the tools and change the number of chairs for the groups for the concert. From six o’clock on Manuel, Juanjo, Juste and Kim relived Stratos and Giulio to rest and continued work in the concert. Until 10 or so, it was doing the same work and at the end, we went to the port to enjoy the dance concert to be held in the evening until midnight. At the end of the concert, the volunteers proceeded to remove the benches that had been placed in the periphery of where the event was held. During the concert the volunteers enjoyed the good music and were dancing also dances of the country besides making positions with pictures so funny.
Friday July 3 - this day was the prelude to the festival of song. On this day the group got together with voluntary groups both regional and other groups from different countries and enjoy the test prior to the celebration of the festival of song to be held the next day
Saturday July 4 - all volunteers participate in the parade of Laulupidu representing Continuous Action, together with other singing groups from other countries and the same Estonia. The parade began on the streets and ended in the same Laulupidu field with a triumphal entry. At the end of this, we went to a dinner area to all the people involved in the festival. After a good dinner, some went to
Sunday July 5 - on this day, the last song of the festival, the volunteers enjoyed the dance festival in the morning, certainly very well prepared, and at the end of this, volunteers work in the field where it had been developed to remove all marks and let the grass as it was before the festival. Some volunteers collected the benches had placed higher in the stands for people. This morning, during the afternoon and enjoyed the festival of song until ten or so.
Monday July 6 - volunteers went to the stadium of Laulupidu to work in, we gathered a group of blocks that held the wires in the hallways to the speakers and stacked pallets in a few, and later we head to the dining area. Participants of the festival and we were picking up chairs and tables, after which we went to a booth where we were offered chocolate, and we expect a lot of boxes with shirts that volunteers should be prepared for different destinations. Finally, we went to eat. Physically it was a long day but we could still move. It was a good day!