Sõrve Sõbrad komitee liikmed vaskult paremale, tagumises reas: Rolf Poole, Alar Leht- salu, Kaili Lehtsalu, Kati Koreneff, Toni Lehtsalu (laekur). Esimeses reas: Kaili Metani (kirjatoimetaja), Indrek Tults (esimees), Maie Pikkat, Siiri Iismaa. Puuduvad Thomas Lipping ja Marilin Ilp. Foto: Siiri Iismaa erakogu
Building upon your second successful election as president, what milestones were achieved last year that you would like to implement this time round?
Indrek Tults: Thank you for your kind words and for the continuous support of Meie Kodu, the cornerstone of the Estonian Community in Australia and despite recent trends in social media it is more than ever the forum for sharing information in our diverse community young and old. Without question our major milestones for each and every year are our fundraising events as not only do these generate much need funding for Sõrve they are always an opportunity for us to keep the magic alive and a strong community focus on our activities. As always we encourage all members of the Estonian community to come and join these events and get involved. Most importantly, we would like to see new families come along and become part of the Sõrve family.
As you know the XXIV Eesti Päevad are in December 2012 in Sydney and we are blessed with the calendar dates working in our favour with only four days between the end of the festivities and the start of Sõrve which is on the 4th of January. Our theme for this year is 'Why not make it a double - Tulge mõlemale! ' and we encourage everyone to take the opportunity whilst in Sydney to spend the week experiencing the magic of Sõrve. Further details and visitor packages will be advertised as soon as they become available.
What are the cornerstones for Sõrve's continual support? What strategies do you have to build and sustain interest in Sõrve?
Indrek Tults: The core values of the Sõrve Sõbrad association in the context of your question is to maintain and promote Estonian culture, language, customs, traditions and community amongst young people of an Estonian background in Australia. Furthermore, it is our objective to maintain a safe and enjoyable environment for families to participate in our Estonian community in Australia with both cultural and sporting activities.
Also I have always maintained that a healthy Sõrve Sõbrad is essential to a healthy Estonian community in Australia and this year one of our strategic goals is to increase our membership. We will be implementing a number of initiatives and incentives to become a member of Sõrve Sõbrad and contribute to the magic of Sõrve so please tell your Estonian friends and family that we want you to come and join us.
We are keen to also appeal to some of our "Old School" members of the Estonian community in Australia. Sõrve is undergoing a generational change at the moment and we are seeing that there are a number of families, typically of my generation, that have been to Sõrve as children in the past and now have children of their own. We are appealing to these families to come along and reconnect with what was an essential part of their childhood growing up as Estonians in Australia and to provide a similar cultural (snapshot) opportunity for the sake of their children as well. Please look out for the promotions and incentives this year for people to come and reconnect, see how much things have changed and evolved with the times.
We are particularly excited about the announcement that Marilin Ilp has accepted a role on the committee for this year and her primary task will be to connect with the New Estonians in our community and we encourage everyone to come and experience the magic of Sõrve.
Last year Sõrve Sõbrad committee introduced two different campaigns. Sinise toa sponsorlus and New Zealand campaign. How successful were they?
Indrek Tults: The Sinise toa sponsorlus is back and we are specifically targeting new Estonians to come and join us and experience the magic of Sõrve. This is without question a fantastic leadership opportunity for a new Estonian who has never been involved in Sõrve to come and join the Juhtkond. Further details will be advertised as soon as they become available.
Last year we made some strong connections with community leaders in a number of strategic area's being New Zealand, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth. We will be maintaining these connections throughout the year with our promotions and advertising however as always we welcome any inquiries from all families about our activities and come and experience the magic of Sõrve.
With the language of choice being English in Sõrve camp, newly arrived Estonians find it hard to comprehend and justify sending their children to the camp. Instead, they could send them back to Eesti to visit their grandparents (Meie Kodu, 22/02). Are there any ways to change the mindsets of these parents? How can we introduce and encourage the use of Estonian language in the camp?
Indrek Tults: To put it in to context this will be our 52nd year of Sõrve at Point Wolstoncroft and in times gone by Estonian was the only spoken language at Sõrve. However the realties are that we live in an English speaking country for 51 weeks of the year, the majority of the children currently come for 2nd and 3rd generations of Estonians in Australia and often from mixed (nationality) relationships and it is therefore impossible for us to expect that the children speak Estonian as a requirement to attend camp. In saying that, we are very proud of our heritage, culture and history and there is a constant theme for us to promote the language and more importantly the culture in a practical and sensible manner during the course of the camp and part of our ongoing success is that we have evolved with the times and implemented strategies to maintain the interest in the camp aligned with community values in Australia.
In our recent past we have had a number of Estonian families that have been on holiday in Australia stop over for the week and their experiences have been extremely supportive and positive of our initiatives. A healthy Sõrve is an important part of a healthy Estonian community in Australia and the cultural exchange that occurs at Sõrve every year is only enhanced by the diverse range of its participants so again all children and families of Estonian background are always welcome.
To all of the new Estonian families in Australia, where are you? Being a part of Sõrve Sõbrad is a fantastic opportunity to join the longest continuously running camp in NSW and Australia and is a unique opportunity for you to connect with other aspects of our existing well established community.
Come once and you will come again.