One of the biggest differences I have seen between the American mentality and the Estonian/ Narva mentality is the sense of national pride. Growing up I was accustomed to seeing the American flag being waved proudly in front of the homes of my neighborhood. Walking down the aisles of a clothing store just before summer and seeing a plethora of red, white and blue shirts and shorts ready for people stoked to represent their country. In Estonia, however, is different. Either I have been talking to the wrong people or interpreted their actions wrong, but I have not seen the same amount of pride as I see in the States. In Narva it is common for the Russian flag to be flying on a higher more central pole than the Estonian flag even well away from the border. I have seen far more American and other country’s flag shirts worn here than than I have seen Estonian flags. I think this is one of the reasons why our July 9th Celebration of Independence Day meant so much to my fellow students and myself. It was good to finally be able to openly express our national pride without drawing to much attention to ourselves out in public.
Before I begin describing the festivities I want to thank the staff working with us here in Narva for putting this event together. It was great to feel closer to the US after being away from home for a couple weeks. The event itself took place at the Narva Castle right on the border of Estonia and Russia. I showed up early to help set up the balloons with Connor, David and Diane. It was windy which made the balloons entirely uncooperative so we needed a place to tie down the balloons so they didn’t fly away. After much deliberation we decided that tying the balloons to Connor as an anchor was the solution to a problem. Check out the picture for reference.
“I am become balloon” – Connor
We were provided Burgers, Coca-Cola and the ability to socialize with other Americans in Estonia. We had the ability to talk with a few interns working in Tallinn at the embassy as well as an Ambassador. It was refreshing to hear our home language and meet some other high school students from the state department also studying at the University of Tartu at Narva. The night ended off with a firework show on the castle walls facing the Russian side. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and definitely a celebration worthy of an American Independence day! Here is our Project GO family below, thanks for reading!