In Search of Jackboots
Arvamus 28 Sep 2010  EWR
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Scott Diel, ERR

The Exam
On a snowy Sunday in February I sat in a classroom in Pae Gymnasium. Motivated by a desire to vote in local elections, I had registered for Estonia’s B1 language exam. It’s a bit unjust, I’d always thought, that a European citizen, who speaks not a word of Estonian and understands not a single issue, is entitled to vote in local elections. Yet an American, who speaks the language more or less fluently and legally resides in the country, must pass a language exam. But the law is the law, and so I took the exam to prove my proficiency in the Estonian language.

And so, in my assigned classroom, I sat at a student’s desk surrounded by mostly native Russian speakers, as two proctors explained the rules of the exam in deliberate Estonian. Instructions given, I was ordered to remove my bag from the desktop, silence was requested, and the first part of the exam was begun.

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