Rainer Sternfeld: Global Estonians podcast and thoughts on global Estonians
The programmes are published every Friday on our website www.globaalsedeestlased.org and on all main podcast channels ( Apple / Google / Spotify). There are 44 + shows so far and you can listen to them whenever you wish.
On 27 November, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs held a virtual conference for Global Estonians to discuss ways of binding the Estonian diaspora into a single greater network. A nation that has been occupied for 50 years and previously lived under foreign rule for centuries may have, as Hemingway said, an Estonian in every port, but building its active global diaspora is still in its infancy.
In a closed system, we were all forced to concentrate on survival to preserve our language and cultural identity. In an open system, people move freely across the world, make new contacts, and reach new heights in their chosen fields. We are increasingly connected by ideas and activities and depend less and less on a specific city or country. At the same time, the sense of an Estonian identity has not only been preserved over time, it has become stronger.
President Toomas Hendrik Ilves had the idea of using digital technology to expand the opportunities of a small state and it has helped put Estonia on the world map. These ideas have been so prudent that 30 years after the restoration of our independence, the whole world (including us) has understood how a pragmatic solution from the 1990s for making our own administration more convenient has become a social contract of mutual responsibility between the citizens and the state. This allows every Estonian in every corner of the world to stay connected to Estonia because the internet makes physical distance disappear.
Now, in the 2020s, when the internet is becoming (re)decentralised, we have a chance to make Estonia more resilient, independent and connected than ever before. Our culture retains its close link to nature and combined with digital technologies, it offers us a chance to build a society for the 21st century. The same mindset helps us engage with friends – considering our e-residents, let us imagine what the same amount of e-residents would bring to our diaspora of 1.5 million people? How about 10 million e-residents?
This is why our programme is looking for Estonians and friends of Estonia across the world who have led exciting lives, who can teach us a lot and who can help bring us closer to each other. Every person has their own network, friends and desire to contribute to Estonia.