‘Twas a pretty good Forest University (Metsaülikool)! Estonian Life
By Karl Martin Sinijärv and translated by Alja Pirosok
Let us start from the conclusion – ‘twas a pretty good Forest University! The mere fact that such a large number of people are able to find a time and are bent on coming to such an out of the way place for an entire week to exchange ideas in the Estonian language – and for nearly half a century already – shows we are dealing with a phenomenon. Or more officially speaking: the format works. There is likely a need for this for quite a lot of people. Yes, quite a few of those who in their time laid the foundation for Forest University are still very spry and full of energy and desire. Yet, at no point was one left with the impression that the thing had turned into a get-together among themselves for the once young or today’s elderly. There were people of all ages and I believe, as in other areas, there won’t be a problem here with the smooth handing on of a working format to new young people, when the time comes.
Nowadays it is really good to spend some time in an environment where the internet does not work nor does the phone ring every moment and everywhere. People just talk among themselves. And since there are many people, and they are different, they keep talking. For at least a week. I believe for even longer and I hope that the stories also find their way into written form. My gut feeling says I heard not only such stories that have been told for forty or fifty years running, but also those which arose from memory for the first time. They are all worthy of recording and being made accessible. I spoke in passing in my presentations of the Estonia e-book reading environment Elisa Raamat and the limited edition printing shop Dipri, with which I am currently involved. I am convinced that precisely the joining of e-books with need-based printing can bring about a new wave in publishing, and a great many books to the light of day which until now would have been either too expensive or too troublesome to issue in paper. Anyone who wants to bring something well-forgotten old or really new to readers, especially to the readers of Estonia, kindly write me at and we will find an opportunity.
People actually had lots of ideas. I especially recommend not forgetting the idea that we not forget those Estonians who perhaps no longer speak the Estonian language, but are strong and exciting practitioners in their fields. An English-medium Forest University could be organized in Estonia for them. So they could speak freely of their experiences among themselves and also to Estonians in Estonia.
At the same time I thank everyone who looked after things all those days in the kitchen. I know very well that in rustic conditions cooking well for a hundred people is not easy. They managed splendidly. Which reminds me, since a great many splendid restaurants have emerged in recent years in Estonia, that it would be interesting to invite some new generation Estonian chef to Forest University. Someone who would speak about the renewal of Estonia’s food culture and put their powers to the test in the Forest University kitchen.
Lovely it was, but it came to an end. Until we meet again!